The Truth About College Rankings

College rankings are very important in selecting the right college. A degree from a top-ranked institution may be perceived as more prestigious. However, the truth is, these rankings do not give you information on the quality of the instruction you will receive.

Rankings can be generated based on a variety of factors such as the student-faculty ratio, financial resources, research earnings, and so on. Following are the major publications that rank US universities and colleges:

U.S. News & World Report - The U.S. News "America's Best Colleges" evaluated public and private four-year schools using 15 different criteria organized according to peer assessment, student selectivity, graduation and retention rate, financial resources, alumni giving, and graduation rate performance.

Washington Monthly College rankings - It uses social mobility, research and service as criteria. The magazine's social mobility category measured how well colleges are recruiting and graduating low-income students. The research criteria included the production of cutting-edge scholarship and doctoral degrees. Service is defined as encouraging students to give something back to their country.

Forbes College rankings - The Forbes and CCAP (Center for College Affordability and Productivity) methodology is based primarily on student satisfaction; career success after graduation; retention rate; student debt load and educational loan default rate; four-year graduation rate; and national awards won by students for academic achievement.

Kiplinger's Personal Finance (Best Values in Private and Public Colleges) - Factors considered include the percentage of the incoming first-year class that scored 600 or higher on the verbal and math SATs, or 24 or higher on the ACT; the average number of students per instructor; and the percentage of first-year students who earned a bachelor's degree within four or five years.