’Tis the season for college rankings, and Beloit has come in at 125 out of 600 American colleges and universities on Forbes’ annual list (ahead of the likes of the University of Texas-Austin). Last year’s Forbes hierarchy had the college at 161.
Beloit’s jump this year is great news, but don’t shout “Buc Yeah!” just yet—lists like these are not the end-all be-all of authorities on colleges. Nancy Benedict, the college’s vice president for enrollment, points out that the criteria used in lists like these can’t please everybody.
“I think the public likes lists because they—the public—are inundated with information and are hungry for ways to make sense of things and sort it all out,” she says. But Benedict adds that these lists can lead prospective students to make uninformed decisions. “America’s Best Colleges? Best for whom?” she asks. Benedict cautions that when a school is listed as no. 1, for instance, it doesn’t automatically mean that it will be best for a student from Minnesota who doesn’t want to be more than 100 miles from home and wants to major in international relations, at a place where such a department may not even exist.
Benedict isn’t the only person to point out potential flaws in these lists’ methodologies: The Internet is rife with controversy over these rankings, from complaints by The American Bar Association to The New York Times’ Economix blog, to a whole new ranking system from The Washington Monthly. (See the links below for a window on the debate.)
Love lists or leave’em, however, according to Forbes, Beloit’s reputation is moving on up. Besides, it may be no. 125 on the list, but it can always be no. 1 in your heart.
Forbes (“America’s Best Colleges”): http://www.forbes.com/2010/08/11/best-colleges-universities-rating-ranking-opinions-best-colleges-10_land.html
USNews & World Report (“Best Colleges 2011”): http://colleges.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-colleges
The Consumerist (“5 Reasons Why Every Single College Ranking is a Pile of Crap”): http://consumerist.com/2010/08/5-reasons-why-every-single-college-ranking-ever-published-is-a-pile-of-crap.html
The New York Times’ Economix Blog (“A Different Way of Ranking Colleges”): http://economix.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/08/23/a-different-way-of-ranking-colleges/?src=busln
The Washington Monthly’s College Guide: http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/college_guide/toc_2010.php
Inside Higher Ed (“ABA Committee Blasts ‘U.S. News’ for Rankings”): http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2010/08/04/qt/aba_committee_blasts_u_s_news_for_rankings