Having a Harmful Effect, Especially in a Gradual or Subtle Way

Joe Nocera refers to the U.S. News and World Report annual college rankings as “pernicious”–a conclusion that cannot be repeated too often about influential ratings that put too little weight on things that should matter to prospective students and their parents.

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  • Trevor Wright

    Looking back on when I was visiting and applying to colleges as a Senior, i had the same views as the unnamed people that said I want to get in a “good and prestigious” school. But now that I have actually gotten into college, I have realized that the school definitely does not matter as much as I thought it did. It is definitely much more about what you do at college and how use your time, rather than the actual school itself. I look around sometimes and wonder why people are here. I feel like they believe that getting into BU was the most important part and they think that as long as they pass they will get a good job because of the “Prestigious” status of BU. And of course, they are wrong. A student that graduated from UNH, for example, could be much more appealing than a BU grad. Don’t get me wrong BU is an unbelievable school that can set you up for success if YOU CHOOSE to be successful and work hard. This article was a great read

  • Robert_Page

    From my personal experience, I never looked at rankings when school searching. We all know which schools are prestigious, some better than others, and I considered BU to be an excellent institution. At the end of the day, I wanted to be when i went to college, and I feel that BU has met my expectation and has also but me in a good position and made me a better person once leaving this place.

    As for Nocera, I only have one comment. Everyone has their opinion.

    Whether a college/university is number 4 or number 8, in my opinion, as long as they are headlined at the top of the list, the stakeholders will have positive effects. Nocera argues that what you put into college matters more than where you go to college, and I disagree with that because the most prestigious college make it very difficult for their students not to put great effort into the academic work. By attending a less challenging college, students may be fooled in believing they are putting a lot into their academic work, when in reality, they are falling far short of what the most prestigious universities require of their students.

  • Keagan

    Before getting to college, I never looked much at rankings, they never mattered. There were always the prestigious schools, the Ivy League, Notre Dame, Georgetown, Schools with history. When recently the NYT came out ranking BU graduates as the 7th most employable graduates in the US I was shocked. Happy of course, but shocked. I had never thought that BU would compare to these other schools. When an employers looks at a resume and sees an Ivy such as Dartmouth or UPenn (both of whom we rank ahead of), I find it hard to believe that they are going to select a BU student with similar credentials over these Ivy’s. Not that that is right, I feel the BU education rivals every Ivy league, but there is a historical bias toward these “good” schools, that cannot be erased by simply another set of rankings or another poll. History and reputation are hard to erase in the minds of others, even if the facts are pointing in other directions.

    BU is a great school, and I know kids who getting into BU was a disappointment, a “saftey school”, and I know others who were delighted to get into BU. In the end students are pushed with desire to succeed in life, and colleges are going to put do everything to make themselves seem like the best place to attend. Each college is going to post the same facts and try to spin it off in a way to appeal to the student as well as the families in hopes to illustrate something that the student is looking for. They want a light to go off in the students head that says “I want to go here”, and Universities are going to spend as much money as they need to keep attracting the best students to better their reputation. Because as I said in the previous paragraph, your reputation is something that is difficult to change.

  • Sarah Hu

    This is funny because I’m in the middle of trying to figure out which law schools to apply to. 

    The article reminds me of something a speaker at the Mock Mediation tournament at Northeastern said last weekend. The gist of it was how people are all so competitive. The goals of the organization hosting is to teach students about mediation (methods, importance, etc.), but in order to draw students, they had to make it into a competition. 

    Perhaps this goes towards the engagement you were speaking of in your other post. Students need to “win,” or the desire to do so engages them.

    Perhaps we want to go to a top ranking school not just because of the pressure from family (who generally do not know what schools are good except for what these rankings tell them) but because we want to “win,” and beat other students. 

    Why is it that this makes us feel better about ourselves? Perhaps this is vanity rearing its ugly head. Or perhaps people are just all insecure and this is the way we find self-worth. It sounds very sad when put this way.