Rankings… what are they good for?

*Photo taken from Google

What’s good my faithful bloggers. I’m back with your FTOD. Today’s tip is about college rankings. But first a little lesson on college ranking systems.

College ranking systems became popular about 30 years ago, as higher education was becoming more of a mature industry. Prospective college students took on a more consumer in the marketplace orientation. In response US News and World Report saw an opportunity to provide a meaningful service at a modesty fee. Today millions of prospective college and graduate students consult it as the holy grail of college rankings.

However YOU grasshopper must remember one thing… and that is rankings are subjective. No matter how prestigious or objective the ranking system may appear it is subjective. It is subjective. Even the much venerated US News [which I think does a fair job of ranking graduate programs] has a flaw in the methodology.

What is the flaw? I’m glad you asked, ¼ of an institutions ranking is based on peer review. Essentially what they do is ask college presidents, provosts and deans to rank the top 100 programs and schools. What this means is that rankings are at base a beauty contest. So this brings me to my FTOD. And the tip is trust your intuition. Visit a school, talk to professors that teach there, grab coffee with current students and alumni of the program if possible. You will get a feeling about which program is right for you. Trust your instincts. In the end, you’ll be glad you did.

PS – Here’s some interesting information about your gut and intuition. Happy hunting!