There are plenty of opportunities to read up on college rankings. U.S. News, Princeton Review, TIME, Yahoo and the list goes on for those who provide annual updates of the best in the Nation. However, it is important to recognize that the terms of measuring the “best” are different for each of the groups analyzing the data.
Some of the rankings published are based on graduation rates, faculty resources, and student retention while others are based on student selectivity and alumni giving. There are lots of combinations and criteria used so it’s important to understand why an organization identifies an institution as #1. If you use rankings as a guide for creating a list of colleges of interest, are you considering the ranking criteria for those institutions? Even more important, are those the same criteria that are important to you?
Making sure you get a good fit college experience is grounded in making sure you do your homework and address your own rankings of colleges and universities. Along with using the criteria of those published in high profile media, have you considered your own desires for social preferences, cultural experiences, geographic location, academic opportunity, athletic opportunity and financial impact?
Just like the statement, “apples to apples” it is important to evaluate your list of colleges and universities with a similar ranking system so that you thoroughly compare all of your opportunities and desires. This is important both on the front end of the process of college search and on the back end at the time you are making a decision and there are multiple acceptance letters to be considered. Will you let emotions drive your decision, or will you evaluate one more time?