Updated: Nov 20
If you scroll through my blog archives, you'll see plenty of articles and commentary I've shared about the deeply flawed US News College Rankings. They have not only significantly derailed our national conversation about what matters in the college experience, but also they have given birth to a multi-billion dollar consulting industry designed to help colleges game the rankings... instead of actually investing in their educational programs or student support resources.
We've arrived at a place that is so ridiculous that colleges send "for your consideration" mailers like Oscar-nominated film studios to their peer group, hoping for favorable ratings, a deeply problematic and significant part of the ranking criteria.
What do these packets of seeds and dirt have to do with the rankings? A dean of admission shared this photo of just one category of gimmicky gifts that had landed on their desk during USNWR survey season. (By the way, you should follow his feed.)
This year, big news was made when the small office of folks behind the rankings changed their methodology. This wasn't all bad; one of the changes was the addition of a social mobility index.
It was stunning to see the speed and awkwardness with which certain schools, who saw drops in their rankings, responded. Vanderbilt's president notably dug in deep with a series of defensive statements.
You may have run across my friend Akil Bello, Senior Director of Advocacy and Advancement at FairTest, an organization that has promoted equitable college admission through advocacy for responsible use (or not using) standardized tests. Akil has made the rounds at schools and colleges giving talks, and he makes an appearance in the Netflix Varsity Blues docu-drama.
Akil wrote a highly informative piece for the Chronicle of Higher Education called "The Reckless Rankings Game." Read it by clicking through the image below (I will mention, as I often do, that it's worth setting up a free Chronicle account to read their excellent coverage of admission news.)
For a little background on Akil's article and some truly fascinating additional related references and visuals, check out this great thread on Twitter/ X.
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