College rankings suck

So everybody runs to read the annual US News and World Report rankings of colleges and universities only to find the same thing every year – Princeton, Harvard, Yale, blah, blah, blah. Are these really the “best schools” though, or simply the ones with the most name recognition? Or are they simply the ones that spend the most money advertising in the magazine?

Well, the US News rankings are lacking in one very significant way – they don’t take into account what the actual students feel about the schools. Their rankings are heavily skewed towards schools with the largest endowments, so their ranking algorithm could certainly be called into question as well.
The best way to find out what school is best for you, is to ask opinions of the students that actually go to, or have gone to the school. Typically, I have to dig to find Wayne State University anywhere on one of these lists. Yet the more reliable Carnegie Foundation ranking system names Wayne State as one of only three premiere research intensive schools in Michigan. But without the endowment, it doesn’t even place in the same category as far lesser schools.

Another factor that should be at the forefront of anybody’s mind in terms of their education is cost. US News doesn’t properly weigh cost of education. Having MIT on your resume may look great but you could get almost the same quality of education from a highly respected engineering school like Michigan Technological University for $25,000 less per year! We’re talking about arguably two of the top three engineering schools in the United States – why waste the extra $100k+, just to put MIT on your resume? The reality is, once you get into the workplace, an employer is going to recognize your abilities and you will be paid accordingly.

These corporate, so-called “College Rankings” are too dependent on advertising dollars to objectively rank colleges by factors that actually matter to students. This is the reason we have a forum on this site, so that students can share the real skinny on their school. The information on colleges that you get from US News and World Reports is likely to be about as accurate as what you find in the brochure for your school.

The only truly accurate way to objectively compare schools is by rating how effective they are in individual areas. Compare the cost of the education, to the likely return on investment, and listen to the actual college students, not the advertisers themselves – after all, who’s trying to sell you something?

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