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Why is that "rankings don't mean that much?"

fjchowdhuryfjchowdhury Registered User Posts: 535 Member
edited January 2006 in College Confidential Cafe
Okay, we've all seen it. On a post, somebody will say "such and such school is ranked number 10 in the country accroding to US News!" and somebody else will say "well rankings don't really mean that much, so why does it matter?"

My question: WHY don't rankings matter? Obviously most reknowned and prestigious schools are going to be in the top tier.. how does it not matter? And don't rankings take a lot of factors into account, like high school performance, standardized test scores, graduation rate, etc. etc? I can see how a ranking doesn't matter if you're trying to decide between a number 20 school and a number 21 school, for instance, but why is it that so many members on cc dismiss the US News rankings?

Rankings matter a lot to me.. is this wrong? I see all the top schools by word of mouth, research, news, etc etc at the top slots while lesser known schools or less prestigious schools might be second or third tier.

PS: Sorry for the grammatical error in the title, I hope you guys don't jump on me for that..
Post edited by fjchowdhury on

Replies to: Why is that "rankings don't mean that much?"

  • TuftsPleaseTuftsPlease Registered User Posts: 990 Member
    Rankings mean as much as you and that's only it.

    After college and a few years down your life, your accomplishments would come from what you have "used" your college education for. If this accomplishment has been science projects or notable research, that's what you'll be remembered for.

    Afterall, college is what you make it. Nothing less, nothing more. Just think, do you choose not to hang out with people not as popular because they arn't as popular? Same thing with college. Employers must realize that skills can be obtained from students from any college or university. If they don't, well then trust me, they won't be employers very longer :)
  • GoldShadowGoldShadow Registered User Posts: 6,160 Senior Member
    US News takes only numbers into account, such as selectivity (theoretically, a college could have 40 applicants, and choose to accept only one, making it the most selective college in the nation with a 2.5% acceptance rate). There are many other things that are either incorrectly measured by numbers, or that numbers can't measure at all, that affect how good a college is.
  • GleechGleech Registered User Posts: 231 Junior Member
    Because as Tuftsplease said, it's what you make of it. It's not like you'll be damned to have a mediocre college life and then have a lame job if you go to your state university, it's not like you'll be made if you go to harvard. The power of the name means a bit, but not as much in the real world.
  • warblersrulewarblersrule Super Moderator Posts: 9,999 Super Moderator
    Look at the three largest components of the US News ranking:
    "Peer assessment" (25%)
    Average graduation rate (16%)
    Average educational expenditures per student (10%)

    These three factors make up more than half of the US News ranking, and all three are questionable. The 25% peer survey is a particularly dubious method of ranking.

    Furthermore, don't think that US News doesn't tamper with the rankings. Only a few years ago, Reed continually ranked in the top 25 LACs. Reed then decided to stop supplying US News with info and hmm, that strange, Reed is now in the upper 40s. Furthermore, if the rankings didn't change from year to year, the magazine wouldn't sell, would it?


    Here's a good article about rankings and their uselessness:
    http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/200511/shunning-college-rankings

    I can see where you're coming from- most top students (and almost all CC'ers) would rather attend a Harvard than a Furman. However, for many of these students, a less selective school would make them much happier! THAT is why rankings can't be trusted- too many people think that they should attend the "best" school on their list. There is also a misconception on CC (that I abhor) that your dream school has to be a reach. For many, their dream school may be a safety. I think this should be encouraged. Way too many times I've seen a well-qualified applicant on CC with a modest list be encouraged to "add reaches" or "apply to HYP." These don't fit everyone. Attending a highly ranked school won't necessarily make you happy, IMO.
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