U.S. News recently released its college ranking list where Ithaca College has consistently ranked high on the “Regional Universities North” list. While this achievement is commendable, many colleges and prospective college students put too much pressure and weight on the rank of a college.
Columbia University is currently in the middle of a scandal surrounding the U.S. News report where the university reported inflated and incorrect information in order to gain a higher ranking. Once discovered, Columbia fell from the No. 2 to the No. 18 position on the “Best National Universities” list. Columbia is not the only college or university to face backlash for reporting incorrect information, but this knowledge calls into question the validity of the U.S. News report.
Prospective students and families should take things like the U.S. News rankings with a grain of salt. After Columbia, we now know that colleges have the ability to potentially falsify statistics recorded in the rankings. While Ithaca College has not falsified statistics, self-reported numbers may not always be 100% accurate. It is important to remember that the college’s rankings, which are posted all across social media, are for the “Regional Universities North” list, not the entire country. Ranking No. 12 on that list does not make the college the No. 12 best college in the country and it is important to remember the context the rankings are in.
The rankings of colleges and universities also contribute to a culture of elitism within higher education. Rather than focusing on the rank of a college, prospective students should focus on the quality of programs offered. A college may not be at the top of the rankings in the country, however, it may have the perfect program a student is looking for. If we continue to put such heavy weight on college rankings, students may sacrifice their education because of their drive for the college’s ranking status.