posted at 04:50
Author: The New Republic
The Problem With College Rankings
While Money's brand-new "Best Colleges" ranking takes us down a notch to fourth, it still puts us ahead of the other Ivies. Money will grade down colleges that offer merit scholarships to the affluent while skimping on aid to needy students, forcing them to take out higher loans. Given the increasingly vertiginous expense of a college education, families of course need to take financial prospects into account when deciding on a college. Even by its own criteria, the Money rankings may not provide a very reliable guide for prospective college students. Given the huge variations within and between colleges, in everything from academic expertise to financial aid, living conditions, placement records and so forth, by far the best single college ranking system is one that cannot be found on any website. As Money's entry into the fray demonstrates, college list-mania seems entirely impervious to such common-sense observations. Expect Babson College rise in future U.S. News rankings, for no reason other than its success in the Money rankings, which will drive up applications and therefore increase Babson's selectivity. Eleven months ago, the president charged the Secretary of Education with developing a national college ratings system that would push colleges to "Deliver better value for students and their families." The system he described sounds dangerously close to Money's, even if it will draw on more reliable data.

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