#CampusChat Q&A: How College Rankings Can Aid and Mislead Students

college rankings

Any time you broach the topic of college rankings, you’re bound to have a lively debate. Are they helpful? Should parents ignore them? Which ones provide the most reliable information?

Last night’s #CampusChat was no different. Our guest, Niche.com, pointed out that rankings can help students who are undecided with helpful information that can lead to a decision. Whether you believe in rankings, find them helpful, or choose to use them simply as a tool, you should enjoy the Q&A and the complete transcript of the chat here: https://www.hashtracking.com/reports/collegevisit/CampusChat/rankings


Q1 Why does Niche conduct yearly college rankings surveys? #CampusChat

A1 To help students start the process of finding a college that fits their interests #CampusChat

A1 We provide rankings as a starting point for students who don’t yet know which aspects of college are most important to them #CampusChat

A1 This year, 1 in 2 HS seniors will register on Niche to help find their school, and our rankings help the undecided #CampusChat


Q2 How do Niche College Rankings differ from others? #CampusChat

A2 We incorporate over 50 different statistics and millions of real student reviews into our rankings #CampusChat

A2 Our rankings are the most thorough, true-to-life out there #CampusChat

A2 We also release a large list of many different rankings, not just Best Colleges: http://bit.ly/1RPiGvs #CampusChat


Q3 Why do the same colleges always end up at the top of these lists? #CampusChat

A3 While ours include some familiar names, schools that top our lists are a good value and offer a great student experience #CampusChat

A3 Most rankings lists only use a handful of impersonal data points, like test scores and GPA, but ours include way more #CampusChat

A3 Rice University, for example, is #5 on our Best Colleges list. #CampusChat


Q4 How do you choose which colleges to include in your rankings? #CampusChat

A4 We rank as many colleges as possible, as long as they report their data to @USEdGov #CampusChat

A4 We ranked 1164 colleges, graded 1583, and the rest did not have sufficient data to include in the ranking #CampusChat

A4 Colleges were not included in the ranking if they had fewer than 100 students or were outside the US/DC/Puerto Rico #CampusChat


Q5 Why do rankings always include party schools? What is the reasoning behind this? #CampusChat

A5 Party schools tend to be a favorite among our users, since party culture is such an iconic part of the college experience #CampusChat

A5 We want to rank all aspects of the college experience, and the party scene is definitely a part of the campus life #CampusChat

A5 Our Best Party Schools ranking is based on student surveys and access to nightlife #CampusChat


Q6 Do colleges consider these rankings important? How are they involved in your ranking process? #CampusChat

A6 We depend on schools to self-report their data to @USedgov, so if they don’t, we cannot rank them #CampusChat

A6 Colleges are definitely excited when they rank highly on our site, because they know how much goes into their rank #CampusChat

A6 1 in 2 students will research and review colleges on Niche, so Niche rankings reflect what students are really thinking #CampusChat


Q7 How can parents and students use college rankings when preparing their college lists? #CampusChat

A7 They can pick and choose rankings that represent their interests, i.e. Best HBCU Colleges or Best Professors #CampusChat

A7 They can pay attention to how rankings are compiled, making sure the method is in line with their interests #CampusChat

A7 Most of all, students and parents can use college rankings as a guide, but not the absolute truth #CampusChat


Q8 How can college rankings mislead students? #CampusChat

A8 When rankings use only a handful of stats to compile their rankings, they aren’t telling the whole story #CampusChat

A8 Rankings based on academics alone eliminate the human aspect of rankings, aka ‘Do kids like this school?’ #CampusChat

A8 Most college rankings are a numbers game, not accounting for student perceptions #CampusChat


Q9 What do you consider to be the top three rankings parents and students should consider? (i.e. value, academics, diversity) #CampusChat

A9 Value, because college is only getting more expensive, and colleges should be recognized for good financial aid #CampusChat

A9 Diversity, because some of the happiest students go to college at a school that accepts all walks of life #CampusChat

A9 Student Life, Because schools that take care of their students encourage students to perform well #CampusChat


Q10 What are three tips you can give parents about using college rankings? #CampusChat

A10 Always check the methodology to see what went into the ranking #CampusChat

A10 Rankings are a tool, so use them like a tool. On Niche, you can filter by state or school type to find what works for you #CampusChat

A10 Remember to take rankings as a guide and a starting point for the college search. Your intuition is the best tool! #CampusChat


Author: Suzanne Shaffer

Suzanne Shaffer advises parents and students in the college admissions process and the importance of early college preparation at ParentsCountdowntoCollegeCoach.com. She is excited to share her knowledge with the readers of Smart College Visit.

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