What Are College Rankings?

College rankings are only one of the many problematic lists generated each year by private companies. Ranking colleges and universities is just as subjective as ranking movies, music, etc. When using a college rankings guide, remember to ask yourself one simple question: Do these rankings reflect my own interests?

To help clear up the confusion surrounding college rankings, NACAC has compiled a number of helpful resources you can use to rank your own college list. Use the information on this site as a kind of "Cliff Notes" to the rankings published annually by U.S. News and World Report, Forbes, and many other private companies.

 

 A Rankings Blog from the College Admission Counseling Perspective

 
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 Essential Facts About Rankings Every Student Should Know

 



 

 Ranking Methods

 
Each ranking publication relies on a formula, or methodology, to determine which colleges and universities it considers the "best." These formulas can be very different for each publication. Take a look at the methodology of a rankings publication and pay attention to the weights associated with each criteria- determine which ones matter to you or what information may be missing.

US News & World Report LinkedIn The Guar​dian​ (UK)
Forbes College Prowler The Times of London
Daily B​east​​ Kiplinger QS World​
Washington Monthly Money US News and World Report- Global​
Princeton Review Business Insider
Times Higher Ed World University Rankings​
Wall Street Journal

U-Multirank

 

*Check out this table​ comparing different global ranking methodologies.
 

 Additional Resources

 

​NACAC Report: “Best for Whom?”: College Admission Counselors Challenge Key Assumptions About College Rankings 

NACAC Report: College Admission Counselors: US News College Rankings Create Confusing Impressions 

College Scorecard: Create your own comparison list.

Education Conservancy: Provides information on commercialization of the college admission process. 

Lead Generators: A Checklist for Reporters Because lead generators often pose as college ranking websites, but in reality only direct students to the schools that pay them, it's important to know how to tell them apart. NACAC's webpage includes more information on lead generators and how to identify​ them.