College Rankings


Every year US News and World Reports puts out a "Best Colleges" ranking guide.  We've all seen these and other rankings come out each year, and it's hard to ignore the allure of a highly rated college.  So it's important to understand the ratings from US News and World Report and other agencies.  


One criteria they look at is selectivity, or how many people apply and how many are accepted.   Knowing this, many colleges changed their recruitment strategies to increase applications so that their selectivity numbers would correspondingly rise. 


Additionally, with the rise of the use of the Common App (one application that can be used to apply to many colleges), the ease with which students can apply to a large number of colleges has also increased.  


In 1989, most students applied to just 2-3 colleges. 

Now, most students apply to 6 or more colleges.  


Between heavy recruitment from admissions, a rise in the number of high school seniors (this topped out in 2011), and the ease of application via the Common App, the number applications increased, and with it when selectivity ratings. 


When application numbers increase, "selectivity" automatically increases. 



But does this relate at all to the quality of the school, or the quality of their marketing and recruitment departments?  


The most important ranking is your own, based upon what you want to get out of the college experience.   If you want small classes, personal attention, mentoring, feedback over grades or any other quality in education that so many homeschoolers gravitate towards, look outside of these rankings and start to explore colleges that may be less well known, but that provide the type of environment where your child will shine.  Perhaps the way to determine the best college for your child is to decide what would make a college experience the best?   

Some questions to consider about your college choices.


  •  Are mentoring programs available (truly available)?   Is there staff to help students pick classes, design their education, choose internships, and match with alumni to gain work experience?

  • Are students so busy in classes that they cannot take advantage of the various clubs and experiences outside of the classroom, and is that important to you?

  • How easy is it to change majors?   Most kids change majors multiple times....  What is the process?

  • Can I actually graduate in 4 years?   Request the statistics as this will effect your finances!

  • Do you want to go to grad or professional school?  If so, how does this school help prepare students for acceptance into these schools?

  • Activities outside of the classroom can sometimes be as life changing as the classes themselves!  If you think so too, check out the activities in the colleges that you are interested in, and better yet, make a list of what you would like to see!

  • Is service within the community an important aspect to your students, and if so, how active is this college?

  • What types of internships are available, and what is the process for obtaining an internship.   Most colleges give lip-service to the idea of internships, but some actively help students obtain these valuable internships.  Some colleges are so passionate about the value of an internship that they have set aside funds to help students take low or no-paying internships.

  • Incubators - do they have any?   An incubator is a level of mentoring from professors and professionals that will help students succeed in their areas of passion.   Wouldn't it be nice to be mentored early on in key areas to help students be successful?

  • Are classes being taught by assistants or professors?  Can you get insights into the satisfaction of students with the professors there? 

  • How large are the classes? 

  • How easy is it to get into the necessary classes? 

  • Job Placement Help - how seriously do they take this?

  • Am I going to be fantastically in debt after graduation?   Because really, is any bachelors degree worth that?

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