Wednesday’s Parent: 5 Reasons You Should Not Rely on College Ranking Lists


college ranking listsEvery year the college ranking lists roll out: U.S. News-America’s Best Colleges, Forbes list of America’s Top Colleges, Princeton Review’s The Best 379 Colleges and more. Parents often use these lists to create a list of dream colleges for their student. These lists may be jumping off points, but putting too much emphasis on them can harm your student.

Here are five reasons you should NOT rely on college rankings lists:

  1. Colleges and universities often cheat. Read this post from Lynn O’Shaughnessy about the cheating that goes on when colleges send incorrect, inaccurate and inflated data to the list makers. (Colleges and Universities That Cheat)
  2. Rankings don’t measure what sort of job a college or university is doing to graduate its students. No list even attempts to measure the education students receive or the quality of that education.
  3. Rankings encourage colleges to favor the rich. O’Shaunessy explains, “Many teenagers end up as collateral damage in the rankings race because schools that are more selective are rated higher, which encourages them to accept more wealthy students. US News awards schools which generate higher test scores and grade point averages from their freshmen. This focus on selectivity has been a boon for affluent high school students, who tend to enjoy better academic profiles. These teens can afford expensive test-prep courses and are more likely to have attended schools with stronger academic offerings.” The most elite schools boast that they reserve their aid to the families who need financial help to attend college, but most of these institutions offer admissions to a shamefully low percentage of needy students.
  4. The rankings encourage admission tricks. The US News rankings favor schools that spurn more students. Colleges increase rejection rates by recruiting students they have no intention of accepting.
  5. Rankings encourage debt. Rankings ignore how much debt students are incurring at the colleges. The colleges at the top of the lists are expensive and middle income students who aspire to these schools and are accepted are often forced to take out huge student loans in order to pay the high tuition. In this case, the prestige of the college often outweighs the cost in the mind of the student and the minds of the parents.

The bottom line: don’t rely on these rankings to create your college list. Create your own list by researching the data yourself. Websites like CollegeData and CollegeNavigator will provide you with data that is not inaccurately reported or inflated to rank the college higher on a list.

Read Wendy’s post: 7 Great Ways to Use College Rankings Lists


Wednesday’s child may be full of woe but Wednesday’s Parent can substitute action for anxiety. Each Wednesday Wendy and I will provide parent tips to get and keep your student on the college track. It’s never too late or too early to start!

The bonus is on the fourth Wednesday of each month when Wendy and I will host Twitter chat #CampusChat at 9pm ET/6pm PT. We will feature an expert on a topic of interest for parents of the college-bound.

Wednesday’s Parent will give twice the info and double the blog posts on critical parenting issues by clicking on the link at the end of the article from parentscountdowntocollegecoach to and vice versa.

(Visited 50 times, 1 visits today)

Comments are closed.