As consumers who look at these college ranking systems to compare institutions, we have to trust the colleges are submitting accurate data.

Do college ranking systems really measure quality?


As consumers who look at these ranking systems to compare institutions, we have to trust the colleges are submitting accurate data

Are college ranking systems legitimate? Do they accurately report data that can be trusted?  Do they actually measure the quality of the educational experience at these colleges? Some of the college ranking systems include: U.S. News & World Report’s Best Colleges Report, The Princeton Review, Forbes Magazine’s America’s Top Colleges, and Kiplinger’s Best College Values.

Is there a better way to rank colleges? Currently, for many of the college ranking systems the data is self-reported by the institution. This can obviously lead to possible errors, incorrect data being submitted, and universities fabricating data to improve their rankings. These are not simplistic systems, so universities are submitting data that many times comes from different units on campus which can also lead to errors.

As consumers who look at these ranking systems to compare institutions, we have to trust the colleges are submitting accurate data.  This, however, is not always the case. In 2018, eight colleges submitted incorrect data to U.S. News & World Report.

For all of these colleges, the errors would have impacted their overall rankings, which would have resulted in a lower ranking. In a specific case involving the business school of Temple University, officials from the university admitted that incorrect data were submitted intentionally and for several years for several programs. Have other colleges done this and gotten away with it?

Just recently, Columbia University submitted inaccurate data that saw them drop from second in the rankings to eighteenth. “Columbia University said that it relied on “outdated and/or incorrect methodologies” in submitting data to U.S. News & World Report for consideration in the publication’s 2021 college rankings,” according to recent stories.

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