Here is Google’s ranking of medical schools in the United States, offered as another baseline list for future comment and comparison:
- Harvard Medical School
- University of Michigan Medical School
- University of Texas Medical School
- University of Wisconsin School of Medicine*
- University of Massachusetts Medical School
- University of Minnesota Medical School
- Dartmouth Medical School
- Stanford University Medical School
- University of North Dakota School of Medicine
- UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine
*Close study of the Google search results on any topic often reveals irregularities—and outright errors—in the design of websites. The title of the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine’s webpage, as it appears in Google, is just “Medical School”—certainly odd:
When you actually go to the page, you see that the title appearing there is “University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health - Date Last Updated: 12/15/2008.” They may be employing the not uncommon practice of serving different versions of a webpage to different browsers, but in this case they haven’t attended to how Googlebot—which functions as browser itself—”sees” their page. Or it could simply be an error that was in place a few days ago that has been corrected on the site, but the correction hasn’t yet appeared in Google’s results. If we check again in a few days we should be able to tell.
Will the medical school rankings shown above remain constant? No, they will fluctuate. But over time there will be a clear pattern of certain institutions regularly appearing in the top ten, and others that place there for a short time and then drop back down. But the absolute numerical position of a school, in this listing or any other, should never be the sole determining factor for a prospective student. Considerations of geography, specialization, campus climate, student welfare, research and teaching opportunities—all these things and more ought to enter into every decision. Rankings can be the beginning of the process, but they should never be the end.