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College Rankings – Pros & Cons

College rankings are established to help future students when they're searching for their preferred college or university. Many colleges will be offering the opportunities and degrees that students want to pursue their dream careers, but they may be doing so in many different ways.

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Lists that are ranking schools by specific criteria of interest, such as their academic excellence or the best online college, can be very helpful in the student's quest to find the college or university that best suits his or her needs. The focus on the ranking of colleges, however, may also mean that some pretty good colleges, or some schools that are particularly active in specific programs or majors or programs, may get overlooked, and that could be shameful!

College Ranking - Pros

Of course, they are not perfect, but the traditional college ranking systems are a good way to make a selection from the thousands of university programs and find a college option that is perfectly in tune with what a student needs or wants. Take a look at some good ways in which college rankings may be helpful:

  • In a broader sense, university rankings are providing a good list of all top colleges and universities. It will allow future students to identify or expand the list of their favored 4-year colleges or online institutions based on offered majors, degree programs quality, career opportunities, and so on. If a relatively small school, for example, is your favorite, the listings will allow you to identify the best small schools. If you’re merely looking for social experiences, you may very well check out the best party schools.
  • The rankings of 4-year colleges also provide tons of statistics and data that may be very helpful when deciding on a college or university. Statistics like the average student age, the diversity of the student body, the freshmen percentile return for a sophomore year, or the average enrolling GPA, may help to give a prospective student some easy and quick insight into a specific school.
  • Another great benefit the college ranking and ratings is that they may well have a positive impact on a school's motivation towards positive change. A school that's ranked low because of its low retention rate, for example, could be more actively looking to improve its extracurricular education programs like tutoring and counseling.

College Ranking - Cons

Whereas college rankings may be used as a helpful tool when deciding on a school, you really ought to think twice about these ratings when making your college decision. Please bear the following aspects in mind:

  • Bias and subjectivity can never completely be ruled out from college rankings. Additionally, there are numerous fluctuating element that that are making up colleges that it's practically impossible to be ranking colleges consistently and accurately.
  • Selectivity (the percentage of admitted students) is a primary criterion for quite a few college rankings. Bear in mind, though, that merely because one school is more selective in its admissions than another school, this doesn't necessarily make the school 'better.'
  • How a college rank may not be so meaningful to prospective students. They often look for individual fit. A student should feel comfortable at a school to enjoy an exceptional college experience, regardless of the school's ranking.
  • The ranking of schools may sometimes lead to negative behavior on the side of universities. Schools may, for example, choose to augment or omit data in order to boost specific ranking factors, like SAT scores. There have also been reports of some other dubious practices. There were schools, for example, who denied 'overqualified' applicants as they were more likely anyway to get accepted at more prestigious schools, thus improving the schools' percentage of students accepting admission offers.
  • Securing a quality professional position after graduation is usually the key end goal of obtaining a college degree. College rankings, on the other hand, only rarely take job placement options and their quality in consideration when it comes to a school's placement on the list.