Your high school diploma is your ticket to higher education. But how to choose the right college? How to choose your subjects? What to avoid? Where to study? And so on and on and on… College rankings might help you but check out the following:
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?
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 Texas schools, 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.
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 out 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.
Choose the right school for YOU
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. Keep also in mind that affordability plays a key role. We list the colleges with the most affordable tuition and fees in Texas on this page.
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.
And to a certain extent, that also counts for Top Texas academic institutions such as Rice University, Trinity University, and, and The University at Austin, though these top Texas schools are still relatively affordable compared to the Big Names in the U.S.
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.
Keep also in mind that many top colleges, also in Texas, have pretty selective admissions policies. Your GPA and possibly also class rank are important factors in the procedures so make sure you earn good grades and scores.
Just look at two of the major public universities in Texas, The University of Texas at Austin and Texas A&M University-College Station.
The University of Texas at Austin has an acceptance rate of less than 40 percent whereas Texas A&M University-College Station admits some 66 percent of all applying students to its academic courses.
At Rice University, the total number of early applications in 2019 was over 2,600 while just over 400 students were admitted to the school’s early admissions process. So the early acceptance rate was around 16 percent. Another point is, of course, the costs involved and how to avoid too much student debt in the first place.
Texas is home to so many great midsize and smaller colleges and universities and there are lots of top-class small public and private liberal arts colleges and technical colleges that perhaps do not rank so high in the overall College Rankings. That should not withhold you from applying to these schools, however.
College rankings – pros & cons
College rankings are established to help future students when they’re searching for their preferred college or university. Many colleges will be offering the opportunities and degrees that students want to pursue their dream careers, but they may be doing so in many different ways.
Lists that are ranking schools by specific criteria of interest, such as their academic excellence or the best online college, can be very helpful in the student’s quest to find the college or university that best suits his or her needs.
The focus on the ranking of colleges, however, may also mean that some pretty good colleges, or some schools that are particularly active in specific programs or majors or programs, may get overlooked, and that could be shameful!
College ranking – pros
Of course, they are not perfect, but the traditional college ranking systems are a good way to make a selection from the thousands of university programs and find a college option that is perfectly in tune with what a student needs or wants. Take a look at some good ways in which college rankings may be helpful:
- In a broader sense, university rankings are providing a good list of all top colleges and universities. It will allow future students to identify or expand the list of their favored 4-year colleges or online institutions based on offered majors, degree programs quality, career opportunities, and so on. If a relatively small school, for example, is your favorite, the listings will allow you to identify the best small schools. See also this post about choosing the right college for you in Texas. If you’re merely looking for social experiences, you may very well check out the best party schools, also if that includes more risks.
- The rankings of 4-year colleges also provide tons of statistics and data that may be very helpful when deciding on a college or university. Statistics like the average student age, the diversity of the student body, the freshmen percentile return for a sophomore year, or the average enrolling GPA, may help to give a prospective student some easy and quick insight into a specific school.
- Another great benefit of the college ranking and ratings is that they may well have a positive impact on a school’s motivation towards positive change and how ideas are formed. A school that’s ranked low because of its low retention rate, for example, could be more actively looking to improve its extracurricular education programs like tutoring and counseling.
College ranking – cons
Whereas college rankings may be used as a helpful tool when deciding on a school, you really ought to think twice about these ratings when making your college decision. Please bear the following aspects in mind:
- Bias and subjectivity can never completely be ruled out from college rankings. Additionally, there are numerous fluctuating elements that that are making up colleges that it’s practically impossible to be ranking colleges consistently and accurately.
- Selectivity (the percentage of admitted students) is a primary criterion for quite a few college rankings. Bear in mind, though, that merely because one school is more selective in its admissions than another school, this doesn’t necessarily make the school ‘better.’
- How a college rank may not be so meaningful to prospective students. They often look for individual fit. A student should feel comfortable at a school to enjoy an exceptional college experience, regardless of the school’s ranking.
- The ranking of schools may sometimes lead to negative behavior on the side of universities. Schools may, for example, choose to augment or omit data in order to boost specific ranking factors, like SAT scores. There have also been reports of some other dubious practices. There were schools, for example, who denied ‘overqualified’ applicants as they were more likely anyway to get accepted at more prestigious schools, thus improving the schools’ percentage of students accepting admission offers.
- Securing a quality professional position after graduation is usually the key end goal of obtaining a college degree. College rankings, on the other hand, only rarely take job placement options and their quality in consideration when it comes to a school’s placement on the list.
Last Updated on September 12, 2020