Ranking Madness

By Ryan Hickey + updated on August 31st, 2010

In today’s post, I’d like to draw your attention to the 2011 US News college rankings, which were recently released. You can check those out here:


While many students, parents, and education professionals put substantial stock in these rankings, I want to take this opportunity to warn against focusing on them too much. Why? Simple. These rankings aim to be objective (at least to some degree), but in doing so, they don’t consider the most important element in the application process.


Just because Harvard is ranked first in the US News rankings doesn’t mean that Harvard should automatically be at the top of your college list. Your list should be based on which schools seem to fit you particularly well, not which schools are at the top of some list.

Many applicants focus way too much on where schools fall on this list. In reality, however, a school’s ranking is one of the last things you should be worried about as you prepare to apply. So Harvard is ranked #1. Great. It obviously has an excellent reputation. Don’t fall into the trap of believing that its rank and reputation automatically mean you want to go there, though. Do your own research and make your own decisions. You may find that schools farther down the list are a much better match for your particular goals, passions, and personality.

So take a look at the rankings, but take them with a grain of salt. Instead of focusing on the rankings themselves, you’re much better off using lists like this to learn more about the featured colleges. You can then take what you learn and use it to inform your own decision about which college should be at the top of your own list.

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Ryan Hickey

Ryan Hickey is Managing Editor of Peterson's & EssayEdge and an expert in many aspects of college, graduate, and professional admissions. A graduate of Yale University, Ryan has worked in various admissions capacities for nearly a decade, including writing test-prep material for the SAT, AP exams, and TOEFL, editing essays and personal statements, and consulting directly with applicants. He enjoys sharing his knowledge to aid others in achieving their educational goals and, when he gets a break, loves hiking and fly fishing with his wife and two border-collie mixes.

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One Response to “Ranking Madness”

  1. editor says:

    I agree to the point that top ranked universities/colleges required good essays or technical report writing inorder to qualify. myessayedit.com

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