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Ask the Times: College rankings, stamp design, 'Miracle on the Hudson' plane

College rankings based on data

How does U.S. News and World Report determine the rankings of the schools for its Best Colleges 2011 edition? Where does it get its information, and how many participate?

The magazine says it places schools into a category based on the school's mission (research university or national liberal arts college) and by region (for universities offering master's programs and colleges focusing on undergraduate education without a particular liberal arts emphasis).

U.S. News gathers data for 1,400-plus accredited schools in 16 areas, covering these categories: peer assessment; student selectivity; retention and graduation; financial resources; faculty resources; alumni giving; and graduation rate performance (for national universities and liberal arts colleges).

Each indicator has a weight, shown in a percentage, based on the magazine's judgment about the most important measures of quality. The colleges are ranked based on their composite weighted score. The magazine publishes the numeric rank of the roughly top three-fourths of schools in each of the 10 "mission" or "region" categories. The lowest-ranked schools are placed into the second tier, based on their overall score in their category, and listed alphabetically. Schools report most of their information by responding to a questionnaire. If schools don't return or completely answer, U.S. News uses comparable outside data, as well as past data collected and information from school websites.

New stamps bring in millions

How much does it cost every time the U.S. Postal Service designs a new stamp?

The Postal Service spends about $40,000 for each stamp design. This investment results in millions of dollars in revenue to the Postal Service each year, said Michael Miles, a spokesman for the U.S. Postal Service in Atlanta.

Stamps introduced this year include those honoring Nobel Peace Prize winner Mother Teresa, actor Katharine Hepburn, Negro League baseball, silver screen cowboys William S. Hart, Tom Mix, Gene Autry and Roy Rogers, the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic Games, abstract expressionist artists, and comic strips such as Archie, Beetle Bailey, Dennis the Menace, Garfield and Calvin and Hobbes.

Plane is off the auction block

Was the US Airways plane that went down in the Hudson River refurbished and put back in service?

The "Miracle on the Hudson" plane, an Airbus A320-214, was to be sold "as is" at an auction at a salvage yard in Kearny, N.J., starting Jan. 21, 2010, but a few weeks later the listing was removed. Bids previously submitted have been suspended until further notice, according to a note posted on the website for Chartis, a property-casualty and general insurance organization. A spokeswoman for Chartis said the auction remains postponed and there are no updates.

Ask the Times: College rankings, stamp design, 'Miracle on the Hudson' plane 09/13/10 [Last modified: Monday, September 13, 2010 2:38pm]
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