Monday, August 18, 2008

Let the Rankings Begin!

Look out, U.S. News and World Report: There's a new competitor in the college rankings game. Forbes has joined the (supposed) effort to help students make informed choices about which college to attend with a ranking methodology that focuses on the satisfaction and success of graduates. While definitely throwing new factors for school comparison into the mix, the nagging questions about the purpose and efficacy of college ranking remain: Do rankings really help students make choices about the colleges that best fit their needs and goals? Or do rankings simply create a selection environment where students pick schools based primarily on the prestige they are granted by a subjective methodology?

While many college admissions counselors, educators and organizations like College That Change Lives advocate ignoring the "rankings game" when exploring possible colleges, students, parents and even alumni continue to be lured by the lists. Does more list makers mean more quality information students can use to make the best choices about where to apply? Or is this just another marketing strategy that encourages students to choose a college based not on which is a sound educational fit, but on which the media tells them are the best?

It's a decision students and families have to make for themselves.