The truth behind college ranking lists

Cliché: Pull rank.    
POCS Reality: Pick a criteria, there’s probably a college ranking for that.


Ranking colleges has become a cottage industry with a proliferation of different criteria yielding different college ranking lists. There are plenty of proponents and critics but ultimately the college-bound, stranded in a sea of mixed reviews, must fend for themselves.

You can find college ranking lists based on the academic to the absurd. From the best in the world universities to the most clean-shaven campuses.

How do counseling professionals and colleges feel about all this?

Counseling professionals disagree with the ranking systems according to a recent survey.

Colleges are split on the issue wanting positive publicity and bragging rights unless the ranking generates a negative buzz. According to a Washington Post Local article,

One of the best-known lists is the U.S. News and World Report ranking of top schools, which has a a complex methodology that takes 2,250 words to explain. Many university presidents slam U.S. News for measuring the wrong things — while quietly taking steps to help their schools climb higher.

Some colleges took an additional step, according to another Washington Post Local article, and took this pledge:

Not to mention U.S. News or similar rankings in any of our new publications, since such lists mislead the public into thinking that the complexities of American higher education can be reduced to one number.’

Read more about making your own College Rankings.

POCSmom’s College Prep DIY Insight: When reading college ranking lists, consider the source and method used, and separate fact from opinion. Then write your own successful college ranking list based on the programs, activities and location you want.

2 thoughts on “The truth behind college ranking lists

  1. I’ve been saying this for years that it really is more of an industry to increase magazine sales & application fee revenues. The criteria used is pure junk. I kind of find it hard to believe that all Calif. universities rank so high when their budgets are cut & the state is bleeding. No one examines things like grades, quality of school equipment, research conducted, strength of curricula, number of majors, number of patents obtained. What about just plain good teaching? While endowment may be a factor because a lot of goes toward merit aid now, it should not be the only one. How good is the library system, the internet system on campus, course quality?

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