University of Michigan is 29th in U.S. News Best College rankings, Harvard is No. 1
The University of Michigan placed 29th on the U.S. News and World Report's annual Best Colleges rankings this year, leading all of Michigan’s public universities.
And among public universities, U-M is No. 4.
As a policy, U-M doesn’t comment on rankings.
This Best Colleges listing, in its 27th year, has generated controversy, with some claiming the rankings are rigged and based too heavily on an institution's reputation.
“It's that day again,” wrote a Washington Post campus blogger. “The day everyone in higher ed acts like they don't really care about. Yep, it's rankings day.”
Inside Higher Ed explored the U.S. News methodology today, and last year exposed ways college presidents worked to game the U.S. News system and downgrade their competitors. U.S. News and World report doesn't keep its previous lists online, making it tough to see how universities move up and down the list.
“For years, critics have noted that such rankings tend to reward institutions that used to be strong (even if they aren’t as strong now) and that many presidents end up ranking institutions about which they know relatively little,” writes Scott Jaschik in Inside Higher Ed. “Many colleges spend large sums of money sending materials to other presidents to try to influence them, and last year, Inside Higher Ed documented that some presidents appear to give unreasonably low rankings to their competitors and in some cases to all colleges but their own."
Michael Bastedo, a researcher who works in the U-M Center for the Study of Higher and Postsecondary Education, co-authored "Getting on the Front Page: Organizational Reputation, Status Signals and the Impact of U.S. News & World Report on Student Decisions" with Nicholas Bowman of Notre Dame's Center for Social Concerns. Their findings were published Research in Higher Education.
Bastedo previously told AnnArbor.com the rankings "aren't an indication of what you learn. They're an indication of how well students did in high school. It doesn't really rate the college as much as it does the admissions profile."
But they still matter to universities. Schools that move up or down in the top-50 see a correlation in the number of applicants, Bastedo's study found. Essentially, a higher ranking means a better applicant pool for the university.
What do you think of the annual list? Does it influence you? Tell us what you think in the comments section below.