Do College Rankings Matter?

How many articles have you seen that list out the top 5, 10, 50 colleges in the United States? There are a lot of opinions out there about what makes a college “the best,” but you might not want to sleep on rankings. Here’s why they’re actually important and what goes into making them.

Do College Rankings Matter? How important is college ranking?

Yes! College rankings actually matter. Higher education schools all have strengths and weaknesses, and by paying attention to rankings, you can see which are the strongest. These colleges and universities are regularly working to differentiate themselves from the other schools. The rankings can give you insight into how a college has improved over the past year or two or how it has fallen behind others.

However, whether or not college rankings are important to you is a different question. Students want different things out of their education, and their dream school may not necessarily be in the top 50 – and that’s absolutely okay. Just because it’s a top school doesn’t mean it will be a top experience for everyone.

No matter where a school ranks, it’s most important that you’re happy at it. This is only one piece of the college search puzzle.

What Factors are Taken Into Account to Create College Rankings?

The factors a company or organization may use to create their college rankings can vary – this is why you might see a school at the #2 spot on one list, but #8 on the next.

However, there are a few different considerations that a number of publications take into account when crafting their list, including

  • Graduation rates
  • First year retention rates
  • Career opportunities and statistics after graduation
  • Debt after graduation
  • Endowment
  • Acceptance rates
  • Student selectivity
  • Student to faculty ratio
  • Class size
  • Faculty resources and salary
  • ACT and SAT scores
  • Academic reputation

Rankings Can Tell You a Lot

How important is college ranking? Rankings aren’t only for the top 5, 10, or 50 schools. There are actually plenty of college rankings that can give you a wealth of information on how they stack up against other schools!

For example, College Raptor creates rankings for:

  • Total enrollment
  • Middle class affordability by state
  • Middle class affordability by major
  • Student-faculty ratio
  • Acceptance rate
  • Graduation rates
  • Student loan default rate
  • Endowment
  • Diversity
  • First year retention
  • Sports
  • and more

We also create additional rankings:

  • By state
  • By public or private
  • By athletic conference
  • Hidden gems

While college rankings may not be important to every student, they are a valuable resource that can prove informative, especially when you first start looking at colleges after high school. Overall, it’s most important to find a school that matches your wants, needs, and goals for the future. College Raptor’s College Match Tool can help you do that, too.


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