College Rankings

There is no shortage of rankings to help students sort through the thousands of available colleges. College rankings play an important role in the decision process, and they are useful for comparing a huge volume of information in an understandable way. Learn about our College Rankings work.

There is no shortage of rankings to help students sort through the thousands of available colleges. College rankings play an important role in the decision process, and they are useful for comparing a huge volume of information in an understandable way. But much of the information used to rank colleges today focuses on inputs that don’t speak to the actual quality of education—factors such as SAT scores, the cost of tuition, and the ratio of professors to students. Because rankings play an important role for consumers, they will never disappear, but they can be improved.

We see rankings as an important leverage point in improving higher education, but only if rankings look at what actually comes out of a school, not just what goes in. New measures, including the National Survey of Student Engagement and the Collegiate Learning Assessment, along with better longitudinal data on student outcomes after college, can shift rankings from being primarily a measure of wealth, exclusivity, and fame to a measure of how well colleges do in educating students and preparing them for later life. Rankings that focus on outcomes can change consumer thinking about college quality and change the nature of higher education’s arms race from one seeking wealth and prestige to one that focuses on quality.