Rankings Do More Harm Than Good

“How important are college rankings when choosing a college.”

In the past fifteen years I’ve seen the ranking frenzy reach the level of ridiculous.  Colleges are thinking of ways to skew the data to increase their rank.  Students and parents seeking status too willingly believe the numbers without doing their own research. Who benefits from this?  A handful of schools maintain bragging rights.  Some families can affix the designer label to their admissions achievements.  But do students benefit?  Does education somehow improve at the university that moves up a few spots?  Do students learn less when they attended a second tier school? The heart of the issue is how can students and families find colleges and universities that will be the best fit.  Using rankings to find a good college fit is like trying to find the perfect husband or wife by using only the rankings from the best-dressed list.

My Answer

Rankings have done more harm than good. Selecting a college is—or should be—a totally personalized process that takes into account a student’s unique interests, talents, and personality. College rankings do contain useful data such as graduation rates and average scores, but a complex set of statistics cannot capture the human elements that draw a student to his or her “best-fit” college.  To use rankings effectively as part of the college selection process, families should educate themselves about the factors evaluated and the ranking formulas used.]]>

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