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  • What exactly can we make of the new college rankings?
  • Posted By:
  • Tom A.
  • Posted On:
  • 14-Sep-2014
  • America’s Best Colleges – Every single college in our country aspires to be in this list released every year by the US News and World Report. This ranking is by far one of the most authentic. What does the recently released college rankings show us about our education system?

    If you first look at the drawbacks of this particular measuring system, you can see that the rankings are based more on the type and number of students admitted by the colleges rather than on the quality of education they impart.

    Over the past few years, there is a complete change of algorithm. All said and done, even today, these rankings are all about selectivity and prestige. So, what are the measures taken to compile the ranking?

    For one, the magazine takes a faculty survey to determine academic reputation of colleges. Next, based on applicant percentage admitted into the college and their SAT scores, the magazine then determines the level of the institution’s admissions selectivity. Other factors taken into account include graduation rates, admission and retention rates and financial resources.

    Logically it follows that if institutions want to climb the ranks, they must reject more applicants, increase SAT benchmarks and attract better students. In the process, most of them are forced to increase tuition too.

    Playing the numbers game perfectly, many institutions recently have gained the status of high risers. For instance, the George Washington University, through the 2000s, was successful in lowering admission rates from 49 to 33 per cent, built posh dorms and jacked its tuition. These measures led the college to be ranked 54 this year from being unranked.

    Today, the University of Richmond is ranked 30 from being unranked in the national liberal arts ranking. This feat was achieved by the institution by lowering its admit rate to 31% from previous 48% and by increasing tuition rate by 31% in 2004-2005.

    As compared to any other area where competition naturally benefits customers with companies vying with each other to offer many benefits and to attract more. In the field of higher education, sadly, competition means maximizing market share by serving only customers who can pay.

    Colleges continue to build more amenities for students. This in turn leads to a situation where they restrict access based on choosing students who can pay for the said amenities. Colleges continue to remain selective especially after they start rising in rankings as naturally, they are in demand.

    In the long run, families and students are the ones who lose. This is a game where colleges definitely prosper and many of them are also able to achieve their goal which by far is nothing more than rising in the US News rankings.

    Some of the smaller liberal arts colleges feature on top of the list which also ranked Harvard at 6th place. A depressing fact is that the 75 per cent bench mark was met only by 98 out of 3,100 four-year colleges in our country.

    One of the biggest blunders we continue to commit here is to define best colleges based not on the quality of education they impart to students but solely on those that enrol the best students who can assure return-on-investment. The focus for good colleges should be not on rankings but on giving opportunities for 96% of our students who go elsewhere.







 

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