What’s Actually Behind the U.S. News Rankings of “Best Colleges”?

While high school seniors are anxiously waiting to hear about college acceptances, their younger classmates are now embarking on the college search adventure. A source that inevitably pops up early in the process is the U.S. News & World Report rankings of “Best Colleges”. These rankings have become widely quoted and wildly popular. But what’s actually behind them and what do they tell you? Here is some behind-the-scenes insight into how the rankings are calculated and what that means when evaluating colleges. We all love Top 10 lists, and rankings can be a helpful shorthand when researching colleges. Schools at the top of the U.S. News rankings are typically considered to be among the best

It Wasn't Like This When We Applied to College

Remember when you applied to college 25 or 35 years ago? You picked a couple of schools you liked, added a safety, and confidently waited for a thick envelope. Now that your own kids are in high school... it ain't like that anymore. How many of us have said "I'd have no chance of getting into my alma mater if I were applying today"? Why is that? More high-schoolers applying to college (from an expanded pool of backgrounds and countries), and students applying to 10 schools instead of three, means more competition for the same coveted spots. The percentage of students applying to seven or more colleges has tripled since 1990 to around 30% of applicants. Those targeting selective schools often

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