The rating of the quality of institutions of higher learning such as colleges and universities is done after considering a combination of factors. Besides entire institutions, particular schools, departments and programs are also ranked. Different rankings take into consideration different factors such as academic excellence, research excellence, eventual success, and student choices among others (Babbie, 2010). While some rankings assess learning institutions in a single country, others carry out an evaluation of institutions worldwide. There has been a heated debate with regards to the accuracy and usefulness of rankings. In addition, the growing variations in the rating methodologies and their associated disapprovals indicate that there is a lack of consensus within the rating field. This paper looks into the data items (3) that may be included in an index used in rating the quality of colleges and universities.

The data items that will be discussed include academics, fire safety and quality of life. The academic performance of learning institutions is very vital in rating their quality (Babbie, 2010). This index is calculated from the survey results of students, as well as the statistical information that is reported by the administrators. The factors considered under academics include the assessment of students by their lecturers, the ratio of teachers to students, class size, the number of hours spent by students studying out of the classroom, and the quality of students enrolled in the institution.

Quality of life is another data item. It measures the happiness of students with their lives when out of the classroom environment. Numerous factors are considered under this item such as safety, the campus’ location, the quality of food served within the institution, the ease of dealing with administrators and moving around campus, how various student types interact, the relationship of the institution with the local community, and the comfort of the dormitories.

Fire safety measures the preparedness of an institution in responding to/ preventing campus fires (Babbie, 2010). Some of the factors considered under fire safety are; the number of dormitories equipped with fire alarm systems and smoke detectors, and the number of fire cases that have occurred within the institution.

In conclusion, rating the quality of learning institutions like colleges and universities necessitates the consideration of a number of factors.  Despite the significance of rankings, there has been disagreement with regards to its accuracy and usefulness. The data items discussed include fire safety, academics and quality of life.