U.S. News has officially announced that they will have two new features in the 2009 edition of America’s Best Colleges. The first new feature is that U.S. News has asked college presidents, provosts and admissions deans to name schools that are “up and coming” colleges. Given that one of the greatest criticism’s of the U.S. News rankings is that top college officials have little basis for rating other colleges, the peer assessment portion of the ratings, it is curious to see how these same officials will name “up and coming” colleges. Moreover, many top college officials have announced that they will no longer participate in the peer assessment ratings and presumably these same officials will refuse to participate in the “up and coming” rating.
The second new feature is that U.S. News has asked high school counselors for their views on undergraduate programs. While some high school counselors have a good understanding of many of the colleges to which their students apply, many more are too overworked to devote as much time as they would like to their students counseling needs. To think that these same counselors are going to have time to rank colleges or have the knowledge to adequately rank colleges is absurd.
I have always said that the U.S. News ranking issue can be helpful because of the raw numbers that are provided on various colleges. But to believe that colleges can be rated in the way attempted by U.S. News is ridiculous. And the two new “features” are clearly more focused on silly marketing rather than trying to provide legitimate helpful information to students and families in the college search process.