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College rankings: how much should they matter?

When you start looking into colleges, you’ll notice that all of them boast any weird ranking that they can. Their websites are always full of things like:

    • Ranked 6th for lowest dropout rate!
    • Ranked 8th for the best feminist studies program!
    • Ranked 17th for nicest dorms!

Schools try to use these rankings to advertise and look impressive, but most of them really aren’t at all significant to you. What do you care about the feminist studies program if that’s not your major? Probably not at all.

These rankings are nice to look at and are good to talk about, but they shouldn’t hold much weight on your decision at all unless it’s something that you feel applies to you specifically, like if it involves your major.

Think about it like in a professional sport — if you hear that such and such quarterback is the top in the league for scoring touchdowns on third down, that’s good and all, but aren’t there more important aspects?

The rankings that are a bit more important are the overall rankings.

US News ranks colleges, and their rankings are usually pretty accurate and held in high regard. They take into account a lot of different factors in making the rankings. For a list of the top-rated schools and how to choose your best college, check here.

Princeton Review, the same site you can use to look up college information, also ranks schools as well. I couldn’t really find a definitive list, but they do rank in a bunch of different categories. You can look at a nice salary calculator here is you want to compare hourly pay and weekly/monthly earnings.

So what do rankings mean for you? What should they mean for you?

Truth be told, not too much. I am a firm believer that you should never let a college’s ranking make the choice for you.

Of course, if the school you want to go to is already higher ranked, then that’s great. But if it’s slightly lower-ranked, don’t fret about it.

My best recommendation is to try to find why that school is ranked higher than another.Research the schools online to see if there seems to be a really solid reason why the higher-ranked school should be the one you choose. The reasons it was ranked higher might not really apply much to you.

A lot of people wonder how businesses will look at their degrees when they need to apply for jobs after school, but as long as you’re going to at least a semi-decent school and not ITT Tech, you should be fine.

Choosing to attend a school that’s ranked 50th over a school that’s ranked 34th won’t really matter –  both are obviously fine schools to make it onto that list. If the difference is between one ranked 20th and one ranked 120th, then look into it and see why the one was ranked so much better than the other.

The only way I could see rankings truly mattering is if you have an opportunity to go to Harvard, Yale, or another big-name Ivy League school. At that point, the recognition of the name would be huge for you because of the huge stigma that the public has about such universities.

But as a whole, you shouldn’t let the rankings influence where you go. Choose somewhere that feels right, not somewhere that some ranking says is right. Remember, rankings are just numbers. Nothing more.