Many universities will tout their rankings in their recruitment literature. All too often students will blindly go on their rankings as a way of assessing what school to attend. The reality is that college rankings are very bad indicators of how good a fit a university is for you.
You should develop your own list of criteria in judging a university and then see how the various rankings match these criteria. What you are likely to find is that college rankings rarely reflect the qualities of a university that you judge to be important.
The reality is that college rankings are designed to bring attention (and profits) to the organizations that publish them. In effect they are beauty pageants for higher education. And like beauty pageants, the results of the rankings are very subjective.
Universities have been known to falsify information that goes into the rankings. In other cases, they will base their own strategic direction on doing what it takes to get a higher ranking, even when doing so distorts the fundamental mission of the university.
Here’s how you can do your own ranking:
- Make a list of what you think is important in a university. Some criteria you might consider could include:
- Cost of attending
- Financial aid/scholarships
- Academic support services
- Athletic programs
- Campus environment
- Social life
- Job opportunities before/after graduation
- Honors programs
- Campus safety
- Academic fit
- Research opportunities
- Reputation of the university
- Now give a weighting to each of these so that the total adds up to 100%. See the example in the Attachment A.
- Evaluate each university based upon your criteria. Use the scale shown in Attachment A below.
- Multiply your rating by the weight you gave each item in your criteria list. In the example in Attachment A, University A had a rating of four for cost of attending. Therefore the score for cost of attending would be 4 x 30 = 120.
- Do step (4) for each item on the criteria list and then sum these for each university.
- Use the results from step (5) to narrow down your selection. You don’t necessarily want to go with the university with the highest score but you should ask yourself this question: “what about the other university makes it more attractive than what the score indicates?”
Using your own ranking is a far better approach to use than using rankings based upon factors that are not important to you. Attachment B (below) is a blank template for you to use in your ranking.