Thursday, August 8, 2013

On Ranking Season

It’s that time of year again.  The annual college rankings are starting pour in (ranking every aspect of college life from the biggest party schools to the most sober schools, overall happiness, attractiveness of both campus and students…), in anticipation of the next round of applicants for whom this is the time to really narrow down the list of schools they’ll be applying to over the next couple months.

If you’re in college and pretending you haven’t been stalking where your school falls on these lists, you’re lying to yourself.

Love it or hate it, everybody has something to say about where their school ranked.  In my case it’s something along the lines of “who forgot to tell The Daily Beast that the University of Richmond and the University of Virginia are not the same school?”*

There are a lot of reasons to be curious – gloating rights, for one.  Plus, high rankings in certain areas mean prestige for the school, a more competitive incoming class, and donor money.  All typically good things.  But being ranked too high or too low on the party school rankings is probably not a good thing.

Case in point, last year’s top-rated party school (according to the Princeton Review, although Playboy also does a ranking) was WVU, which saw a crackdown this past year on campus drinking, drug use, and partying in an attempt to clean up its image. Make it all shiny and new for the incoming class of parents who may not want their kids at the top-ranking party school.  But let’s face it, if your academics can even reasonably match your social scene, and you make it on that list, you’re going to see a rise in applicants.  People spend most of their young-adult lives being told that college will be the best four years of their lives, and they look to these kinds of rankings as a way to ensure they’re not wasted.
Are they always accurate?  Not really.  The Princeton Review, for example, generates their entire list based on self-reported student surveys about campus life, which means scores can be artificially inflated or deflated, and that the standards aren’t exactly what you’d call objective.

But it’s still pretty interesting to check out.

#45th Happily Yours,
Rachel Leigh

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