Rancorous Rankings and Immolated Ivies

Recent articles that question, and support, the benefits of an Ivy League education have made waves in the media. "Don't Send Your Kids To the Ivy League," William Deresiewicz proclaimed in The New Republic. Steven Pinker countered with "The Trouble With Harvard: The Ivy League is broken and only standardized tests can fix it." The debates about the value of a highly selective college education, and the perceived lack of equity in the admissions process at these and other schools may never end. That's not a bad thing, as far as we're concerned. Frank and open debate and differing opinions are the lifeblood of higher education, after all. Another hot topic - for families, educational consultants and educational institutions themselves - is rankings. US News and World Report just released its much-followed Best Colleges rankings. We're not big fans of rankings: the data is subjective, incomplete, and easily manipulated (read Boston Magazine's article on Northeastern's "gaming" of the rankings for more insight on one institution's approach to improving its position on the list). We understand that they serve as a starting point for many people; our suggestion, if you're going to consider rankings, is that you consider many different rankings, from multiple sources, with diverse data points.

At AHP, we don't make sweeping pronouncements that either condemn or celebrate the Ivies (or any other consortium for that matter) across the board, because what matters most to us as educational consultants is to help our clients find the right fit. For them.That means working one-on-one with high school juniors and seniors to help clarify their strengths and challenges, goals and aspirations, preferences and dislikes, when it comes to the ideal learning and living environment for this next stage of their lives. Our role is to help students create their very own rankings list: one that is just right for them, that takes into account the variables that matter to them and their families. So read the reviews and the rankings and follow the debates if you will, but please rest easy knowing that ultimately there is only #1 college: the one that's the best fit for your child.