Do rankings still matter for colleges?
One could say they matter more than ever. Parents and students play close attention to the rankings in US News every year, and competition for admittance increases every year for the schools that cling to the top 100 spots.
Yet rankings can also be easily manipulated. Especially rankings that rely heavily on survey data and "inputs" rather than the outcomes of students.
Yes, rankings can be good tools for students to understand their options. But rankings are more useful if they are outcomes-focused, and reveal information that is most relevant to the student at hand.
It isn't going to matter to 90% of college-bound students what the top 100 schools in the nation are. But it does matter to them what the best schools are in their local area, or what the best schools are for engineering, computer science, teaching, or business. And it does matter a lot to many families which of those top schools they can actually afford.
Most potential college students need to know differences in quality between the schools that are actually open to them. This could be the difference between graduating in four years into a career they love, or dropping out burdened with debt.
Are you Reaching the Students That Want to Hear From You?
So what is it your school is best at, or most proud of? How are you doing at reaching the students that matter most to your institution? This is just one of the reasons rankings still matter, and one of the reasons you should be interested in making the most of the areas where you rank the best.