Scott Jashick at Inside HIgher Ed has a good article today which discusses the decrease in the participation rate of the reputation survey portion of the U.S. News rankings. For those of you not familiar with how U.S. News comes up with their rankings, 25% of the ranking is based on a reputational survey that U.S. News sends to senior administrators at colleges around the country. In this survey, college administrators are supposed to rank other colleges with which they are familiar. This is the largest factor in determining each year’s rankings.
This year only 46% of senior college officials actually returned the reputational survey. This is down from 67% response rate a few years ago. The article discusses several possible reasons for the decline but have no fear, U.S. News is still confident that they still have a valid ranking system.
The fact that fewer and fewer college officials are responding to this riduculous survey is encouraging. However, for U.S. News to say that they are uneffected by the decreased participation merely reinforces the believe of many, including myself, that the sole purpose of these rankings is to sell magazines and generate revenue for U.S. News. This is not about trying to help students find the right college or to compare colleges on issues that may effect the students eduction. The work to find the right college can be stressful enough for students that they shouldn’t have to worry about a ranking system that sticks by its rankings regardless of their validity.