The following points are excerpted from an article titled “How important are those college rankings?” published by www.theintelligencer.com. We would like to share with our readers this excellent and timeless article after we got permission from the author Dr. Aldemaro Romero to publish it on our site.
(Author: Dr. Aldemaro Romero Jr., Letters from Academia)
We excerpted some crucial points from the article for your reference.
- To really understand how those rankings work, we need to consider two things: how data is collected and what it is being measured.
- Colleges and universities voluntarily submit their data after receiving an annual survey. That is where the problems start. To begin with there have been instances in which some colleges and universities have submitted false data just to improve their rankings.
- Since the 1990s several institutions have boycotted U.S. News and World Report ranking efforts by refusing to submit data. Among the institutions boycotting this process are both prestigious liberal arts colleges such as Stanford University. What they say is that those rankings are misleading.
- The rankings are also based upon opinion surveys of university faculty members and administrators who do not belong to the schools being ranked.
- There has also been a move among many institutions not to participate in this “reputation survey” which weighs 25 percent in the rankings because they are seen as “beauty contests” and highly subjective.
- The choice of college is a very personal one that does not necessarily relate to the quality of the education being offered. Factors such as cost, name recognition, size, location and the like play a major role in those decisions and they have very little to do with those ranking.
- Another fundamental problem with those rankings is that they create the illusion that they are a fair measure of educational quality. In fact, colleges and universities struggle themselves in measuring the quality of instruction they provide.
- Another issue is that one way to move up in those ranking is by just spending more money in areas that have little to do with the academic activities of the institution. In other words, you can “buy” your way up into the rankings without effectively improving the quality of education being provided.
- Other figures used to rank these institutions, such as the size of endowments or faculty research productivity, are also mostly irrelevant to the quality of instruction.
- Although these rankings measure reputation and average SAT scores of entering students, which says little about the quality of instruction or how much students will learn when compared with other schools.
- We are seeing more and more public institutions being measured by factors important to politicians, such as enrollment and graduation rates, which can be very sensitive to factor beyond the control of those institutions, and the local or regional economy.
- So why, despite all these shortcomings, is there so much notoriety for these rankings? Many university presidents will say publicly that they believe in them in part due to pressure from trustees, alumni and faculty members. Some boards of trustees even offer bonuses to presidents if they increase the institution’s rankings.
Dr. Aldemaro Romero Jr. is a writer and college professor with leadership experience in higher education. He can be contacted through his website at http://www.aromerojr.net