Posts Tagged ‘U.S. News & World Report college rankings’

To Ignore or Not to Ignore College Rankings

Categories: Admissions Advice

Anything that comes in a list of best to, uh, less than best, is fun. I’m not quite sure about the science behind this, but I’m pretty certain somewhere down the line the answer to all war will be solved by producing a massive “Best Of List” to captivate the world’s attention and distract from war for centuries.

The rankings that caught our attention this week came from U.S. News & World Report’s annual college rankings. They’re certainly fun to look at, to compare and contrast, and see who’s winning the race. But, in reality, is the college ranking system really all that accurate or dependable?

Of course, the schools that made this year’s 2012 top 10 colleges ranking are undoubtedly superb schools–Harvard, Princeton, Yale, etc. (you can probably fill in the rest yourselft)–but is there any such thing as the one, singular best college in the nation for every student?

Of course not.

There’s also something that smells a little fishy with the rankings. According to Michael N. Bastedo’s column in the Chronicle, the percentage of responders to the U.S. News survey is declining every year.

On top of this, there is a clear conflict of interest in how the rankings are produced. A huge percentage of the survey takers are college admission folks. Why would college leaders want to give positive evaluations to their competition? It’s like asking you to vote for your opponent in the student body president election.

Another issue is that rankings don’t necessarily mean that much despite the amount of significance we place on them. There are so many schools that are overlooked because they’re not as well known, a lot smaller, in stranger places, whatever the case may be, that leads them to be overshadowed year after year in the college rankings.

If you’ve created a profile on Cappex and connected with your college matches, you were probably pleasantly surprised at how some of your college matches are schools you had never heard of before.

So, yeah, rankings are super fun to look at. And I bet it doesn’t feel too badly to make the top ten list. But, when it comes down to choosing a college, college rankings barely skim the surface of how good school will be for you and your career.

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