As September rolls in, so does the annual trek of college students back to school. They head back to campus, with dreams of receiving a degree and moving on to a fulfilling and rewarding career. One question that needs to be examined though is how the choice of which college to attend was made. While there are different avenues to explore, many parents turn to U.S. News and World Report’s annual rankings of the top ranking universities for guidance.
The magazine has come to be known as the go to guide for college searching. It lists everything from rank and tuition amounts, to median SAT and ACT scores. The latter part of that sentence was a change made to the rankings this year. It is also one of the reasons why parents should do their own research before enrolling their child in a college.
U.S. News and World Report’s annual rankings are actually hurting students more than helping. This is due to a myriad of factors. Take the fact that they are putting more weight on ACT and SAT scores for their rankings. Those tests are a one Saturday, standardized test, on which many students do not fare well. Instead of putting more emphasis on a high school career of learning, the magazine rewards universities that put an emphasis on a one-time test score.
Unfortunately, colleges are striving to be high on this list. To that end, they do things that are not advantageous to that middle of the road, or average, student. These institutions are focusing more on pursuing the top echelon students while the average student is left behind. The pursuit of average students does not help a college’s ranking possibilities, which leads them to overlook pupils like this.
The mistake in that is that some of the greatest minds of the 20th century were average students at best. U.S. News ranking criteria also hurt the lower and middle-income families, as well. There are lots of children in these brackets who are talented, but do not have the means to afford college. That is where things like scholarships come in handy. The problem is that the money for those is nowhere to be found.
Why is that? It is due to universities putting the money into scholarships tailored to the very best of students. That leaves these other groups, who are desperate for financial aid, out in the cold. Colleges are now guided by this artificial list, pursuing students who will bring higher test scores into their halls, thus making them more attractive to U.S. News. That is a sad statement indeed.
There is also the end goal of the university experience. What all students want is a profitable career at the end of their rainbow. Well, guess what this magazine does not include in its rankings? That is right U.S. News does not include employment success in its rankings. A list such as this should include some of this valuable data. It is great that one can pay $40,000 a year for college, but what good is it if unemployment is at the end of the line? A list like this should examine how many graduates are finding good jobs over a predetermined time period.
It is a sad fact that rankings like this are no more than a dog and pony show. Colleges are desperately trying to appeal to a magazine, when they should be emphasizing what they are there for. Education is what a student wants out of the college experience. Oh, and by the way, where is it said that a good college has to come with a significant price tag? Almost every college in the top 30 is over $40,000 a year in tuition and fees. Places like that should be required to find students 50K a year jobs, as part of their ranking!