August 25, 2005
[Singham is a professor here at Case who blogs really regularly -- almost daily. Bookmark him! Better yet, sign up for an RSS news reader (I use CNET's Newsburst) and add him as a source.]
My take? College rankings are a great source of information. They are great for comparing universities on various parameters. They are a great way to find colleges you might not have heard of.
But as always, always, always -- Read critically. Look at the fine print and see what those rankings really mean.
Just because a school is number one, doesn't mean it's for you.
I went to Allegheny College. (#88 among liberal arts colleges this year). My husband went to University of Pittsburgh (#58 among national universities this year). In raw numbers, it might look like he did better than me, but how do you really measure that? What does that really mean later in life?
At the time, I appreciated Allegheny's small classes, quaint environment, personal attention from tenured faculty, and opportunities to participate in all sorts of activities. I was an English major, but that didn't stop me from starring in a play or getting a small role in an opera. I still struggle with stage fright, but I appreciate that I was nurtured and encouraged to step outside my comfort zone.
I think my husband would have shriveled up and died in a small town like Meadville, but he'll probably admit that Pitt offered too many opportunities to party and not enough incentives to buckle down and learn. I don't think he was really challenged, and I think he'd do something different if he had it to do over again.
So that's my personal perspective on college rankings. I have some professional thoughts, but we'll save that for later. Maybe.
Posted by pls9 at August 25, 2005 11:19 AM
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