College rankings are just subjective
The Arizona Daily Star ran an itty-bitty article online and in print last week about the University of Arizona’s new rankings by the Daily Beast. In the article they say we Wildcats are “more sexy than smart.”
When I first read that, I took some offense. I am not a fan of anyone other than me saying I am hot and dumb.
In my frustration, I looked up rankings from other publications.
Unsurprisingly, rankings are all over the place.
The Daily Beast putting us as the 123rd best college is low compared to the Center for World University Rankings, who put us at 78th best in the world and 49th best in the U.S. However, it seems about on par with U.S. News and World Report’s ranking of 119th.
Not to mention it seems high compared to Forbes and Find The Best, both of whom put us below the top 200.
Each one of these rankings has a different methodology. Daily Beast’s weighed heavily on future earnings, quality of education, and affordability, all of which students care about.
Granted, they take most of their stats from College Prowler, which is fueled by student feedback meaning that stats are all over the place and highly debatable. For example, how subjective is UA being 1342 of 1343 in “Smartest Girls.”
This begs the most important question when it comes to rankings: since there is no standard and rankings can be determined by student feedback like Daily Beast did or from fancy math and formulas that focus on publications, patents, and how many awards the faculty has won like CWUR, what makes one ranking more reliable than another?
All college ranking systems are flawed.
There will always be a problem of them being arbitrary and subjective. They might not provide enough information, rely too much on student feedback, rely too little on student feedback, or assume that all students fit in a gender binary.
Knowing that rankings are never going to be perfect, and figuring there are about 4,500 degree-granting institutions according to the National Center for Education Statistics, makes me think being 123rd, even making it on the best 200 lists, says the UA is a pretty great school, even if the Star thinks our rating “is not so great.”
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