We always liked this Wall Street Journal op-ed piece by Dickinson (Pa.) College Professor Christopher Francese on the insignificance of the U.S. News & World Report rankings to students seeking the best possible educational experience. In his article, “Rancorous College Rankings,” Francese gave six reasons why students should not care about the rankings.
- You are an individual, not a product. Different schools embody distinct but equally valid attitudes and values, something that numerical ratings cannot take into account.
- A top school does not guarantee a top education. The value of your education depends far more on your effort than on how many applicants the admissions office turned away this year or how well the student at the next desk did on the Scholastic Aptitude Test.
- We’re comparing top-notch colleges and universities. In this country just under a quarter of the population has graduated from any four-year college. A much smaller proportion has the unbelievable good fortune to end up at a school like Dickinson. It’s awfully unseemly for those blessed few to quarrel among themselves about whose school has the most valedictorians.
- Saying a college is good is like saying the nation’s economy is in good shape. The school where Francese formerly taught was ranked higher than Dickinson, but did not have a modern languages program as good as the one at Dickinson.
- High ratings don’t guarantee good professors. The more prestigious an institution is the more books and articles it can demand its harried scholars publish—and the less time they have to spend on their students.
- Ratings are vulgar. The dirty secret of the ratings game is that it is about the pursuit of social status. If it’s developing your mind that you care about, college ratings and rankings won’t help you very much.