How important are college rankings when choosing a college?

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Our counselors answered:

How important are college rankings when choosing a college?

Zahir Robb
College Counselor The Right Fit College

How important are college rankings when choosing a college?

College rankings can give you some ideas, but don't put too much weight into them. Instead select criteria that you are looking for and weigh these against the universities. Use the ranking system as a starting off point to get an idea as to who may have a good engineering program or a well recognized theatre program, but don't exclude a university just because it is ranked low.

Reecy Aresty
College Admissions/Financial Aid Expert & Author Payless For College, Inc.

How important are college rankings when choosing a college?

It's the fit of the program that a college has to offer rather than how US news rates a school. The perfect school for you could have a low rating - so what!

Joyce Vining Morgan
Founder and college counselor Educational Transitions

How important are college rankings when choosing a college?

Rankings sell magazines – I’m not sure they are of much more use than that. The data is not always reliable, and attempts to quantify the college experience are iffy at best. Since the rankings began, colleges have tried to game the system – the most recent egregious examples are chronicled in this February 1 New York Times article: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/01/education/gaming-the-college-rankings.html?_r=1&nl=todaysheadlines&emc=tha23 That said, in Asian countires where "face" and prestige are highly significant, rankings are important for future employment; those rankings are not necessarily our magazine rankings but may be on a list internal to the country. One wonderful rumor, not entirely false, is that there are those in China who believe that the US News and World Report rankings are offical US government rankings ... because of the name of the magazine and because some governments like the UK do official rankings; makes sense if you live that far away, I guess.

Benjamin Caldarelli
Partner Princeton College Consulting, LLC

How important are college rankings when choosing a college?

Rankings themselves are much less important than what the rankings are based on. Looking beyond or inside the rankings can be very useful when choosing a college.

Sarah Contomichalos
Manager Educational Advisory Services, LLC

How important are college rankings when choosing a college?

Which rankings? There are so many available that if the ranking you are consulting is not very specific they may not be very useful.