Wednesday’s Parent: 7 great ways to use college ranking lists

Rank college ranking lists. Photo by Wendy David-Gaines

Rank college ranking lists. Photo by Wendy David-Gaines

“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.”

I wrote this back in January of 2012. The controversy over the use and reliability of college ranking lists continues because of the varying criteria the makers use and the mix of fact and opinion. The fact that there are college ranking lists based on the academic to the absurd, from the best in the world universities to the most clean-shaven campuses, adds to the confusion. But there are ways to salvage some useful info to help the college-bound.

I still believe the best list is the one students and parents create but sometimes I catch myself rubbernecking like a driver on a highway. Curiosity takes over and I take a peek. Since many parents and students will, like me, be looking anyway, I’m listing these seven pros for using college ranking lists.

  1. College ranking lists are fun to read and interesting conversation starters between parents and students.
  2. College ranking lists may include important statistics like graduation rate, freshman retention rate, and alumni donations. They may also include important facts about the college selectivity level via current student prior test scores and class standing.
  3. College ranking lists may include schools families have not yet thought about but are worth considering.
  4. College ranking lists show how schools are portrayed and measured up by the list sponsor according to their criteria. If they give great weight to a factor students care about, the school may be worth looking into.
  5. College ranking lists often emphasize brand names and popular colleges which can inspire a search for lesser known or lower rated but better fit schools. These may offer greater chances for admission and more financial aid because they receive much fewer applications.
  6. College ranking lists can serve as tools to hone student critical thinking skills to separate perception from reality.
  7. College ranking lists can be a blueprint for students to create their own personal college ranking list.

Read Suzanne’s post5 Reasons You Should Not Rely on College Ranking Lists


4 steps to create a personal college ranking list

The right college fit test

Wednesday’s Parent: The prime relationship between college list and college fit


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