The Misuse and Overuse of College Ratings

The college process can be overwhelming in part because of the magnitude of the decision, but also in part because of the volume of information available about each college. Campus tours, information sessions, guide books, video tours, college websites, common data sets, and a multitude of college review sites all provide different slices of information about each college. However, while there are myriad ways to gather honest, relevant, information about colleges, families can tend to put too much weight on colleges’ rankings.

Our colleague, Brennan Barnard, provides an excellent analysis of how these rankings are derived and shares advice offered by deans of admissions from colleges around the country about how students can gather information relevant to their situation in the linked article, which we think you’ll find to provide valuable insights.

Ultimately, we hope students will think carefully about what they want from their college experience and look for the specific ways that colleges will provide the opportunities and resources that they want and need. Colleges rankings rarely provide any real value in a student’s search, but making use of the other, pertinent resources available to evaluate a college will give students the personalized ranking system they need to make the decisions that are right for them.