This post is part of a series of three posts on the topic of college rankings and selectivity and how much it may or may not matter when the time comes to choose where to apply and where to attend. Check out Part 1 here and Part 2 here.
Both of the studies in Part 2 focused on earnings and the impact the college you choose has on them; however, colleges can be ranked in a variety of ways. The Atlantic has a roundup of college rankings here and you’ll see that there really isn’t any consensus on which method to use and which school is the very best. So here’s the big question: without any good evidence that one school is better than another, is it really worth it to worry about these types of rankings at all? I would say most likely not. The most important thing is finding a college that that is a good fit for you.
There is a lot to consider when it comes to finding a good fit: size, location, cost, majors offered, your chances of being accepted, how the campus looks…even school colors. With all of these variables factored in, you still won’t know exactly what your college experience may end up being like. It’s hard to predict what lessons you’ll learn about yourself and the world, the people you’ll meet, the relationships you’ll build, and the opportunities you’ll be presented. I think that those things, the things you’ll gain the most from in college, have a lot more to do with you, the student, than the college name printed on the front of your sweatshirt.
So it looks like there is lot of work ahead of you. The best way to find a college that is a good fit for you is to visit campuses, do some research, talk to current and former students, and ask your Advisor for help–it’s what we’re here for! Get started. There’s no time like the present.
One final thought for students concerned with cost (i.e. everyone!). Many of the schools commonly ranked the highest are also some of the best at providing financial aid to students. If you have demonstrated in your high school career the academic aptitude to attend some of these schools, don’t discount them because you think they’ll cost too much! Stay tuned for a future post about colleges and upward mobility.