The eagerly awaited and highly anticipated moment has finally arrived. The U.S. News and World Report Best Colleges 2013 edition is here. Despite my misgivings with the methodology of the rankings and my displeasure with the obsession of using the rankings to determine college preferences, I was as quick as the next guy to review the rankings.
As much as I dislike the way that U.S. News and World Report ranks colleges, I can’t help but look at those rankings. I feel very conflicted actually. On the one hand I need to see where various schools rank because my clients will expect me to have basic knowledge of the current rankings. Also, truth be told, I always scroll immediately to my alma mater (Washington University in St. Louis) to see its ranking. (This year #14.) Whoo hoo! On the other hand I find it incredibly frustrating that in the US and abroad the rankings hold so much water. US News consistently faces criticism over the way the rankings are determined. In fact one of my dear college friends did his senior thesis in economics on the issues facing the US News rankings. I think we can all agree that the rankings are somewhat suspect yet at the same time we are drawn to them like moths to a light. Dangerous, maybe, but titillating, nonetheless.
In my former life as an admission counselor my colleagues and I felt that same love-hate ambivalence towards the rankings. Sure we were always interested to see where our university ranked but at the same time we pooh-poohed the rankings in general. We’d remind visiting students and their parents that rankings aren’t everything, but then in the same breath we’d tell them how highly we were ranked.
So, in honor of the official release of the rankings, I will encourage you to take a look. Parents, see where your alma mater ranks. High schoolers, check out the schools you’re considering. And make me feel a little better by looking into one or two schools you perhaps don’t know. And as always, take those rankings with a grain of salt. They are not the end-all-be-all of the college process.
Gotta run so I can peruse those rankings again…for research purposes.
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