US News, Forbes, USA Today, Money Magazine, Princeton Review, and Niche are just a few of the many college rankings available for parents and students to review. Most college experts agree these rankings should have little weight when choosing a college.
But let’s get real for a moment, we all rank everything: from movies, to music, to restaurants, to hotels, to companies.
Consumer reports ranks just about everything known to man: appliances, electronics, automobiles, and more. The New York Times Bestseller lists ranks books. Rankings are a part of our lives.
So what’s all the fuss about college rankings? It’s there because some believe parents and students use rankings for the wrong reason—to choose a college based on a college’s rank. But is that really so horrible? Whichever rankings report you choose, there will be flaws because no ranking system is perfect.
As with all other rankings, we should use them as a place to begin. Looking for a car? Consumer reports ranks cars based on multiple criteria—choose the ones that are important to you. Getting ready to purchase a new computer? Tech magazines and web sites rank them based on performance and functionality. These provide consumers with information for further research.
How are college rankings any different than other rankings? They aren’t. Use them for a base of reference. Add them to part of the process of finding a good fit college for your student. Don’t throw away the baby with the bath water by discounting them altogether. No ranking system is perfect, but they can provide you with a place to begin and a means to rule out colleges that don’t fit your preferences.
Be smart however and do your research. What will you end up with? Your own rankings based on the criteria your student chooses. That means that your rankings are the best!
Check out my guide for parents: Parents Countdown to College Crash Course