Has US News lost its mind, its mojo and its very purpose behind college rankings, other than bragging rights? If there were any doubts, the pompous magazine put them to rest by releasing its 2014 list of Colleges and Universities.
Which university rejects the most student applicants? Which one is most picky? Which university requires the highest SAT and other standardized scores? Which university has the highest graduation rates? Which one has the tiniest class size? In other words which university is most snooty and mails out the most “Thanks for applying but we regret to inform…” letters, and punches the biggest hole in your bank vault, gets the biggest thumbs up according to US News.
With rankings like these who needs enemies?
Aware of the blistering criticism on the web, US News is quick to add that they have also released a list of Best Value Colleges, but is that just a perfunctory sideshow or the main event?
President Obama, although clearly failing in reviving the economy, curtailing joblessness and inflation which has hit the students and recent graduates hard, had this to say last month
“We’re going to start rating colleges not just by which college is the most selective, not just by which college is the most expensive, not just by which college has the nicest facilities – you can get all of that on the existing rating systems. What we want to do is rate them on who’s offering the best value so students and taxpayers get a bigger bang for their buck.”
Sounds like a plan, but even Obama missed the big picture and the essence of a college education. And it can be summed up in three words. Well paid Jobs.
So the two most meaningful measuring sticks to evaluate universities must be College Debt and Well paid Jobs, not SAT scores, acceptance rate and class size.
College debt and starting wage determines how soon a recent graduate can afford a down payment for his/her mortgage and necessities like a car, and the opportunity to get married, make babies and start a family without living in grandma’s basement.
And nowhere in US News college rankings do we see these two criteria front and center. Students and parents are beginning to see the pointlessness and even worse, hum-buggery behind such rankings. While the wages are going south, the college debt is zooming north. (image)
What we need is a new vision, a new emphasis that what truly matters is after-graduation outcomes, not pre-graduation ones. It may sound very caustic, but whichever magazine recognizes this cardinal truth, print or digital, established or brand new, will triumph over the old, stale, meaningless rankings of US News and World Report.