Many colleges will not be participating in the U.S. News Magazine College Rankings this year, according to this New York Times article last Wednesday. A majority of the 80 presidents who are a part of the Annapolis Group, a collection of liberal arts colleges, said the survey is time-consuming and not an accurate perception of the colleges. They also added that the group would create its own system to compare schools.
When I applied to schools, rankings were of very little importance to me, but I now understand how high rankings can improve a college’s prestige and reputation. Elon’s average SAT was around 1180 four years ago. With rankings high in different publications, Elon’s reputation has grown and the average SAT is around 1220. Elon transformed from a regional college to a nationally ranked university in just a few years. Without the help of news publications, this would have been a much more difficult task.
College-formulated ranking systems will be subjected to more scrutiny than independent publications. They will just add to the numerous brochures that tout how great each institution is. The real answer is to not participate in any ranking systems. Each school is a good fit for a certain strata of students. If the school is not a good fit for enough students, popularity will decline and the school will change or cease to exist.