You don’t have to look too far to find a list purporting to definitively rank the “best” colleges and universities. You’ve no doubt seen these rankings before and referenced them in your college search. But with all the different and often conflicting “best of” rankings out there, which ones should you pay attention to (if any)? And more importantly, by what qualifications are these “best of” rankings being created?
Now there is a new ranking in town but some of the colleges you find at the top may surprise you. The Brookings Institution recently released their own college ranking taking into consideration a “value-added” look at America’s two and four-year higher education options.
Brookings calculated value by determining the difference between expected student outcomes based on background of incoming students and the actual alumni outcomes that occurred (i.e. salaries).
In a time when tuition continues to rise, student debt is spiraling out of control, and the job market remains extremely tight, the question of what is the value of one education versus another is a relevant one for many students and families. But the Brookings take on value assessment is certainly a departure from other perennially popular rankings put out by groups like U.S. News and World Report. Don’t expect to see those Ivy league brand names at the top of this one!
What’s a prospective student supposed to do? Remember that finding the right college for you shouldn’t just be a numbers process. Those intangible qualitative aspects that we like to call “feel” are just as important, and many times more so, than what any ranking statistics are manipulated to say.
So go look at Brookings’ new list. Since you are planning on spending a lot of time and even more money on your college education, do as much research as you can. Just keep in mind the numbers you are looking at and what they mean for you and what you are hoping to gain from your college education. And then throw them all out the window and determine what has the most value for you.