Why You Should Ignore the US News & World Report College Rankings





I’ve written before about the US News & World Report College Rankings (you can read “Useful tool or misleading hype” here),    but a recent Washington Post article explains the factors that determine which schools rise to the top of the list, noting, “If you still think the rankings mean much of anything after reading the methodology (which is the same as last year’s), then let’s talk about this bridge I have for sale …..”

Here’s just one of the more surprising findings:

22.5% of the ranking is based on academic reputation. That makes sense, until you discover that the reputation is determined by “opinions of those in a position to judge a school’s undergraduate academic excellence. The academic peer assessment survey allows top academics – presidents, provosts and deans of admissions – to account for intangibles at peer institutions such as faculty dedication to teaching.” US News asks competitors to assess each other, on “intangibles” that they have no knowledge of? It’s hard to imagine any other industry using this methodology–can you imagine the Yankees giving high marks to the Red Sox?

The National Association of College Admissions Counselors already weighed in on the rankings (hint: most college counselors don’t think much of them), and they’ve received some scathing media coverage, but they persist. Maybe the Washington Post will help debunk this worthless list once and for all.