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College Rankings - Are They Meaningful?

Most people who have thought of applying to college, whether as a student or parent, have come across college rankings websites and magazines. The most familiar one is put out yearly by U.S. News and World Report (USNWR) but there are many others. These include Forbes magazine, the Wall Street Journal, the Princeton Review in the private realm; the U.S. government recently started producing their own ranking system called the College Scorecard. There are over 100 guidebooks which purport to rank colleges. The ranking systems differ by what categories of information gets emphasized, and the degree to which they rely on self-reporting of information by individual colleges. Each system makes subjective judgements about what is important in higher education.