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Sunday, June 10, 2012
Yes, College Rankings Do Matter. Maybe.
Advice regarding college admissions tends to cycle through differing philosophies. Historically, rankings have been crucial. Students (and parents, and maybe employers) wait with bated breath each year as the US News & World Report churns out its annual number crunching about college rankings.
Lately, college consultants have been fighting back. Part of the reason? High profile schools have been caught in flat-out lies about their own stats . The other reason is cuddlier. Consultants and experts claim that the goal for students in finding the"right" college should be the right fit, not the highest ranking.
I like the sound of this, but, there is always a "but". The "right fit" assumes that a student is attending college to learn. If that is true, I agree that the student should place a greater emphasis on things like class size, campus location and faculty. If a student is going to college in order to get a job, I think ignoring the pedigree of a brand name school could be a liability.
Frankly, in a depressed job market, the best way to get ahead is to get a graduate degree. I'd like to believe that graduate institutions care more about undergraduate performance than where a student went to college. I wouldn't trust recruiters in the professional realm to be as reasonable.
It comes down to what a student wants. If it is a clerkship with the US Supreme Court, that undergraduate better pay very close attention to their college brand. If it is the rite-of-passage that is the "college experience", I think it makes more sense to look for a school that will make you happy.
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