Punitive Rankings

Every year around this time U.S. News & World Report issues its ranked list of America’s “best” colleges. And every year an inevitable handwringing ensues – among academics, anyway – about what the rankings mean, and whether they’re of any use at all. Pose this question to most professionals in higher education, and you’ll likely get a resounding “no.” The flat numerical scores, which receive the most attention, say little about what makes any college or university good or bad. The rankings say less still about the alchemy that makes a school the right “fit” for any given student.

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