US News Rankings... Are they a true indicator?

<p>How accurate are they? For example, i notice the Fiske has UNC and UVA as 5 star academics, but they are ranked in the 20's on US news. On the other hand, a school like Emory only has a 4 star academic rating, yet it is rated higher on US News. Same with Wash U (although i think its a 4 1/2 academic in Fiske). Are UVA and UNC lowered because they are public, even though they provide better educations? I am just confused.</p>

<p>USNWR takes into account many things other than education for their rankings</p>

<p>neither one should make you decision, dont go to one school because it is ranked 15th and your other choice is 16th. they can give you a rough guide of how a school is perceived and maybe ideas about where to apply (i found my first choice through us news) but it shouldnt be even remotely a deciding factor. go where you want to go, not where some group of people ranking colleges does.</p>

<p>do not count on rankings. use them as a jumping off point and get to know them on your own--the number means nothing if you don't like the college. the two measure different things--USNWR takes what basically amounts to prestige into its rankings and is a very controversial source, especially on this website.</p>

<p>I know that a lot of people, including people in academia, take serious issue with the USNWR rankings. Schools that are often discussed are WUSTL (too high), Emory (too high), Barnard (too low) and Reed (too low). But I think Reed doesn't participate in the surveys - I could be wrong. These aren't necessarily my opinions, but opinions in general.</p>

<p>WUSTL and Emory are DEFINITELY overranked. Seriously! I mean, come on, WUSTL is tied with Cornell for #12? And Emory tied with Rice for #17?! </p>

<p>You have got to be kidding me.</p>

<p>I knew nothing about Wustl emory rice notredame vanderbilt wake forest brandeis lehigh college of will/mary until I saw the ranking.</p>

<p>They're true in that all of the universities on the list are good ones. However, keep in mind that many factors unrelated to quality of education play a part in a college's overall ranking. Just because a university is lower-ranked than another by the USNWR doesn't mean it is inferior.</p>

<p>A lot of what USNWR rates is <em>popularity</em>, which really has nothing to do with the quality of education you will get. They rank how many kids apply, and what percentage are admitted, which can have a lot to do with where they are ranked, and not much to do with how they educate. </p>

<p>Which isn't to say that the schools at the top of the list aren't good schools, it's just that there are lots of good schools, not just USNWR's top 20.</p>

<p>I think US News Rankings is pretty darn accurate. Of course there are going to be controversies and people will think School X should be #13 instead of #17 or whatever, but ranking colleges is a pretty subjective science in the first place. There aren't any gross misrankings (like Harvard at #20 or something totally silly), so while I don't think you should take it as the Bible, it gives you a pretty good general idea of how good a college is.</p>

<p>(I should add though, if you're looking for only educational quality, then USNR is not that accurate. For example, I'd imagine some of the smaller privates listed lower, and LACs would have higher teaching quality than the large universities like Berkeley or UVA, or even a Harvard or Yale, but they lack the brand name and don't have as much resources / open as many doors)</p>

<p>I think they're reasonably useful for giving you a rough idea of where a school falls. The more specific you try to get, the less useful they are - it really doesn't matter whether a school is, say, 15th or 18th.</p>

<p>I think it's probably a bad idea to lean on them to much. The difference between a #20 and #25 school is probably not a lot, if any. And for most students, it all depends on what they choose to take advantage of and how much they decide to study and learn. I have a friend who went to Yale. Now he delivers newspapers for a living. :)</p>

<p>Please use USNWR ranks and data as a starting point and not as some conclusive statement about the relative worth of a college. PLEASE!</p>

<p>USNWR is an excellent source for figuring out which colleges might be a Reach-Match-Safety (Selectivity Data, esp, standardized test scores) and what the nature of the undergraduate experience is going to be (Selectivity again as well as Faculty and Financial Resources data). Use these to get an idea of how strong the student bodies will be and how large or small the classes will be and how much the institution is spending to support students. After that, it is up to you to make a list of what is important to you in the classroom and out of the classroom. IMO, these personal judgments in trying to find the right fit are faaaaaaaaaaaaar more important for a successful undergraduate experience than the absolute USNWR rank. </p>

<p>As for an overall guide, I often suggest that students use the following metrics to compare colleges:</p>

<li> Quality of student bodies (best measured by standardized test scores)</li>
<li> Size of classroom (best measured by Faculty Resources data)</li>
<li> Quality of the Faculty (I'd point more to the classroom teaching rankings even if they are outdated and I'd also look to surveys like NSSE. I don't believe in PA scoring as I don't think it measures the quality of classroom teaching which is far more important to me than what some unnamed academic in some unrelated discipline thinks of a college).</li>
<li> Resources dedicated to students (as measured by Financial Resources data)</li>

<p>If you use the selectivity metrics to decide Reach-Match-Safety, and then do these comparisons and consistently compare your potential college choices, you will likely find colleges that fit your academic level and where you will have a happy undergraduate experience.</p>