We live in a culture where everyone is obsessed with having the ideal, the biggest, or the greatest. Knowing that something or someone is good isn’t enough – it has to be better than everyone everything or everyone else. Given this climate, it is no surprise that college ranking is so important to so many students. I remember the conversations that I would have about schools when I was graduating high school. Almost everyone wanted to know about the college university ranking of the school that they were going to. Whether they were looking at technical schools, Universities, on the internet degree programs, or some other type of tertiary education, everyone wanted to compare their college rankings with other people in their group.
In my view, this way of looking at things is foolish. It is true that college ratings can give you some information about the school you are going to. If you’re going to a big university, for example, you want a school that’s known to have good programs in areas you might be interested in. Nonetheless, a good college ranking doesn’t guarantee that you’ll be happy at the school you go to.
My sister, for example, went to a college with an excellent college ranking. The problem was that college rankings don’t state anything about the social scene. The school was very monolithic socially. There were few students, and they were all from very rich, white, privileged backgrounds. It felt snobby and insular to her, and she didn’t really enjoy herself while she was there. The school she ended up switching to had a lower college ranking, however, she was much happier there.
Whenever I consider college rankings, it reminds me of a course that I took in my senior year. I had finished the French program at my high school, and was taking a class at the community college to continue my French education. There was nothing spectacular about that community college, and the course I was taking was just a regular night course that met once a week for four hours. Nonetheless, I learned more in that class that I learned anywhere else before or since. I had a great teacher, and that was enough to inspire me. Although the college ranking of that junior college was nowhere near that of the universe that I went to, the professor I had there was every bit as good as any of the professors I had afterwards.