College Rankings: Do We Really Care?
I pored over the U.S. News and World Report’s college rankings when I was a senior in high school. How far up could I go, I wondered? What was the most-highly ranked college I could get into?
I mean, I knew I was Harvard-caliber, I just didn’t have the grades– I was above grades! I could have totally gone Ivy-League if I had wanted to, but I chose the route of a small school with a philosophy, a mission (and a respectable ranking).
My freshman year, I ended up at a small liberal arts school that was ranked #30. Not bad, considering it was ranked #25 in terms of selectivity. I figured its teeny endowment brought the main ranking down. I was satisfied, my family was satisfied, my peers were satisfied. I had landed.
But when I got to college, of course, I realized that these rankings meant absolutely nothing. What did I care about my college’s freshman retention or alumni – giving rate? And the insidiously low student to faculty ratio was moot if you were in a crappy class in which none of the other six students talked. I found myself pining for large, anonymous lecture classes. Did I wanted a lower – ranked education?
The old, corny adage rings true over and over again: college is what you make of it. Seriously. All campuses have pretty trees and old buildings. All student bodies have geniuses and idiots. Yale has a dining hall. Podunk University in Mississippi has a dining hall.
Therefore, I totally support the abolition of college rankings, and it looks as if the movement is picking up some deserved speed. The notoriously antiestablishment Reed College in Oregon (which has been called the most cerebral college in the country) has always shirked the ratings, and more colleges are jumping on its ship. As today’s Chicago Tribune stated: in a letter to colleges across the country, 12 college presidents have announced that they will abstain from filling out U.S. News’s annual survey and risk a fallen rating for the betterment of the college admissions process.
I don’t think too much about prestige or the name-brand of my college now that I’m actually here. Truth be told, the tiny, #30 ranked college I went to is not a whole lot different than Texas, which bears the scar of a different ranking (#1 Party School! yeahhh…). Just goes to show: the important is not where you go, but where you’re going (and, um, graduating).