Sunday, January 31, 2010

Making fun of college rankings

An entertaining website that parodies college rankings, created by a former Duke professor.

I am in complete agreement that US News churns it rankings to generate press coverage, and that many parents and maybe even more university administrators take the ratings too seriously, but they do contain real information. The key points that most parents miss are that the "within" institution variation is also quite large, as you can have a great experience at a middle ranked school or get lost at a top ranked one, and that how much a student gets out of the university experience depends to a large extent on his or her choices about how hard to study, what courses to take, what extracurricular activities to be involved with and so on.

2 comments:

Millsy said...

Whether or not the rankings contain significant useful information about the college experience is one thing.

But don't they also provide a way of increasing a signal someone might get from a degree at "Top 10 Univeristy X"? If we're to believe those that claim the return to the educational part of college is a big fat 0 (said with skepticism here), wouldn't the most valuable thing about your school then be the ranking it gets in the US News and the perceived strength of that signal for future jobs?

In that case US News has a lot of power...and I'm not sure that's a good thing.

econjeff said...

I share your skepticism regarding the "college adds no value" view. I am less worried about US News given that they face a lot of competition in the college ranking market, including Barron's, Princeton Review, collegeprowler.com and so on.