U.S. College Rankings

Everybody wants to get better stuff for their money. People like brand names, reputation, awards and trophies. "There are twelve Nobel prize laureates in my college" sound nice, almost as nice as "my school is #1 in the country". In reality what all those numbers mean? Do they guarantee you great college experience or high-paid job after graduation?

In reality single number that corresponds to the overall college placement does not have much value. Numbers related to different majors and programs are much more interesting. I would go for a good department with lower total university ranking than otherwise. When you start looking for a job companies would know the places where good people come from. Very often they even come to campuses during career fairs looking for new hires.

Another funny observation about overall university ratings is that they don't really change that much year to year. If you look at them, there is a short list of the "very best colleges" - top 5 or 10. Everybody knows what they are. The algorithm is tweaked every year to make them change their position by one or two places up or down. In reality these changes mean nothing. All this is just a small fluctuation artificially created to show that one great college is a little bit better than another. In reality their reputation is all what matters and you need 10s of years to notice any differences in such thing as college reputation.

After list of the "very best colleges" there is a list of "very good colleges". There are more changes there. One year college may move from lower 30s to upper 20s. People start thinking that it's progress. Deep inside they want to believe that next year it will be even better, and if they go to that college it magically becomes one of the top colleges at the time of their graduation. It never happens just because these change in the ranking was caused again just by playing with ranking algorithm.

Just to summarize, don't think too much about rankings, but do some study to find which college is better for getting your first job.