Rankings undermine colleges’ true value

By KJ Burkley | Reporter

Every year the U.S. News & World Report, Forbes, and many news outlets release lists of rankings of American colleges. And every year, the top is dominated by the same prestigious Ivy League schools.

It’s quite repetitive and very expected who will be No. 1 — if not Harvard, then Yale, Princeton or the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Institutions of highly regarded academics, famous alumni and student prodigies. But does ranking No. 1 really mean that university is truly the best in America?

The research makeup of rankings are quite expansive. For example, the U.S. News and & World Report, now in its 35th year of publication, produces rankings that compare “on 15 diverse measures of academic quality.” The methodology of U.S. News includes ACT/SAT scores, graduation rates and student-faculty ratios, among many other factors that produce rankings.

For the graduating senior, choosing the right college can be intimidating, and in the moment of indecisiveness, it’s easy to Google search “top colleges” or “best colleges for graduate business or music majors,” fill out the application, and wait for the acceptance letter. But those feelings of uncertainty and doubt vanish when immersed in a higher education environment.

A simple rank can’t quantify the journey offered at each college institution because each journey is different in their own way. The social and academic change students go through should not be measured as better or worse compared to other schools because their investment is meant just for them and their institution’s mission statement.

Baylor is ranked No. 79 and in a four-way tie with Binghamton University, Gonzaga University, Indiana University and the University of Buffalo. But as a Baylor undergrad student and a Waco native, the experience I’ve had here is unlike any other and most certainly No. 1 on my list of universities of higher education.

Let’s not get ahead of the game now. Ivy leagues are among the best colleges when it comes to academic training. But not every higher education student can experience that journey, so they choose to attend college that works best for them academically, socially, mentally; and that maturation process spells out the simple truth — college rankings simply don’t matter.

So, if you are considering applying to graduate school, academia is critical in your decision. But school grows on you in more ways than you think; so don’t make the prestigious choice, make the right choice for you, and the rest will take care of itself.

KJ is a junior journalism news-media major from Waco.