U.S. News


Big Exposure, Big Questions For Latest College Rankings

Although U.S. News & World Report's annual rankings will certainly boost prestige (and exclusivity), some criticize the rankings' legitimacy.
Posted at 10:44 AM, Sep 09, 2014

Ah, the perks of Princeton. Ivy League education, New York City and Philadelphia just a short train ride away, and a No. 1 college ranking in the country.

U.S. News & World Report issued its annual rankings Tuesday. Princeton broke its tie with Harvard to get the top spot for a U.S. national university, and Williams College in Massachusetts was ranked the best liberal arts school.

The ranking certainly will make Princeton, which advertises itself as the fourth oldest college in the U.S., all that more prestigious and — frankly — exclusive.

The university's website says this year's high school graduating seniors with dreams of heading to New Jersey next year can expect to pay more than $43,000 in tuition for the 2015-2016 school year.

But don't worry. Room, board and other costs only bump you up another $18,000 to a total yearly expense of about $61,000.

As some headlines noted, the rankings didn't provide many new faces to the world of academic prominence, and most movement up or down the list of top-tier schools was only by a place or two.

The benefits to being top dog like Williams College this year are very real. A 2008 study showed landing on U.S. News & World Report's front page for the rankings led to a significant uptick in the number and quality of applicants. (Video via YouTube / Willa Kammerer)

"Oftentimes, though, changes in college rankings stem from institutions' ability to 'play the rankings game' rather than from actual improvements in institutional quality."

Vox has been much more blatantly critical, noting five universities have admitted to falsifying the data they sent to U.S. News & World Report.

This is the 30th edition of the magazine's college rankings. Writers measured nearly 1,800 colleges, roughly half the amount that exist in the U.S.

This video includes an image from Getty Images.