Top University Rankings Overrated?

College rankings are a common tool many students use when applying to schools. But is its importance exaggerated?

Written by SABRINA FANG AND NATALIE JIN / Published October 5, 2012  

College rankings are a common tool many students use when applying to schools. College rankings are a good and helpful source of information when performing college research. They provide students with an idea of which schools have the best academic programs and would better benefit their future.

According to the latest edition of National University Rankings released by U.S. News & World Report, Harvard University was ranked number one with Princeton University finishing second. Six of the eight UC colleges were able to make the top one-hundred including UC Berkley, which ranked twenty-one, and UCLA, which ranked twenty-four.

Rankings are usually based on the student G.P.A. average, graduation rates, faculty quality and other different factors. Ranking methods vary with every publication. Some publications are based on an overall scale while others are divided into categories.

Rankings can heavily influence a person’s opinion on which universities they should consider applying for.

College rankings are helpful sources of information. They offer a general understanding of which schools are best to meet the goals and needs of the student. However, a person’s opinion on which colleges should be considered the best should not pertain to rankings alone.

Often times, rankings are determined by needless information, such as how many volumes of books the library has, or how many professors there are have a doctorate degree, than actual learning quality. It is thus important to remember that there are other factors to consider such as the campus, location, and the school’s atmosphere.

Judy Graunke, the German teacher and head of NHS- The National Honors Society- suggests that “students should not take these rankings into deep consideration. Most of the time, kids get into amazing places that aren’t amazing for their major. They attend schools that aren’t right for their respective learning styles. Class sizes and the atmosphere of the campus should be researched before students base their impressions of a school on a mere scale”.

However, many students do take the ranking of their prospective schools seriously.

A Temple City High School Junior, Andrew Pau, says, “I feel that although these rankings are useful when students apply to colleges and when students get their acceptance letters. The rankings give them a sense of their school’s reputation. A good school with a good reputation is definitely desirable. Considering these rankings has given me an idea of which colleges I would like to attend”.

When it comes down to choosing which college to attend, rankings should not completely influence a person’s decision. Instead, one’s own personal preferences and options should be considered before one accepts facts based on a college ranking.

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