Hold Your Nose: U.S. News & World Report's New College Rankings Are Out

Whooppeee!!! U.S. News & World Report released its latest college rankings today.

This marks the 25th time that the magazine has issued its numerical rankings on the best colleges and universities in the country.

I’d say that is 25 times too many.

As I mention in my book, The College Solution, and elsewhere on my blog, the rankings are horribly flawed. It’s become a fun sport in the higher ed community to skewer USNWR’s rankings.

The increasing hostility from academia may be one reason why the magazine is trying something new. The magazine released several new categories this year including rankings by high school counselors. That might be a brilliant marketing move, but it doesn’t improve the magazine’s pathetic methodology.

One of the dumbest things that USNWR does is devote a large portion of its numerical rankings to what academics think about competing schools. Aren’t college admininstrators too busy running their own campuses to try to make any meaningful evaluation of other colleges and universities? And why would they really want to? It seems to me they might be more inclined to give their competition lower marks just to make themselves look good.

What’s more, can you really evaluate a school on a system that requires you to sum up an entire college on a 1-to-5 scale? Give me a break.

For the new issue, the magazine asked high school counselors, who are probably even busier than college administrators, to evaluate colleges and universities. The magazine doesn’t seem to care if these counselors have ever visited the schools they are rating. It doesn’t seem to care if these counselors know anything about the schools.

Who cares indeed since the primary goal is to sell magazines.

If USNWR wants to be helpful it should stop focusing on a school’s “reputation” and how many kids it can reject each year. Instead it should focus on trying to measure the quality of the education taking place at schools. That’s what the National Survey on Student Engagement is trying to do now.

Please visit my website at TheCollegeSolution.com.

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