Los Angeles Collegian Online

LA City Ranked Among the Most Influential Colleges of the Nation

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Faculty and Students Bonafide

Last Thursday on Forbes, Academic Influence released its first-ever ranking of the best 50 American community colleges of 839 community colleges in the US placing LACC as number sixth in the nation and second in California.

The criteria for the national recognition comes with the observation to be fully accredited; enrolled at least 1,000 students, and that the colleges primarily provided two-year, associate degree programs and with certificate credentials in most cases data crunched through a complex vacuum algorithm exploring student outcome in real time.

“Using concentrated influence gives small and mid-sized schools an opportunity to shine by taking away the size advantage of larger schools. A small school with proportionately more influential faculty than a large school, whose influence in absolute terms may be bigger, will nonetheless score higher in a concentrated influence ranking. Our approach highlights community colleges that truly rank for excellence, regardless of size,” Ph.D Erik J. Larson said, an Academic Influencer editor and author of the book The Myth of Artificial Intelligence: Why Computers Can’t Think the Way We Do.

Academic Influence used the same methodology it’s employed to rank all kinds of higher education institutions, including liberal art colleges, research universities and international institutions. It’s approach is based on the premise that the people affiliated with a school determine its quality. To measure that quality, a trademarked measure termed “Concentrated Influenceis computed.

Using machine-learning technology developed with funding from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, Academic Influence searches open-source data in two massive sources like Wikipedia and CrossRef for papers, chapters, books, and citations to individuals worldwide. Collectively, these databases contain billions of continuously updated data points about millions of individuals’ achievements.

Then, the Concentrated Influence score of a given institution is calculated by combining all the “mentions” of the individuals who’ve been associated with that institution as faculty, administrators or alums. That score is then divided by the school’s total number of students. Adjusting for size this way gives small and mid-sized schools an equal chance of competing with larger colleges. A small school with proportionately more influential faculty than a large school, whose absolute influence may be bigger, will nonetheless score higher using Concentrated Influence rankings.

In order to control for other confounding factors, the searched data are restricted to the past ten years, and the names of famous politicians, artists, performers, etc. are suppressed, solving the problem that they otherwise would exert an inordinate influence on a school’s ranking. Individuals’ influence is tracked constantly in real time, and influence scores are updated quarterly.

California led the nation, with 13 institutions in the top 50. Massachusetts was second with six, and five states, Arizona, Illinois, Maryland, New York and Texas with each had three schools in the top 50.

The full state-by-state list is cited here.

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