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At last, a downward trend for college rankings

A view of the Columbia University campus in New York in March 2020. US News & World Report said July 7 that the Ivy League institution failed to substantiate certain 2021 data it previously submitted, including student-faculty ratios and class size.Mark Lennihan/Associated Press

We’re touting the wrong measures and the wrong institutions

After reading the Sept. 14 editorial, “Rein in these ridiculous college rankings,” I felt compelled to respond. Imagine college rankings that gave high marks for those institutions that provide support for students who are housing or food insecure or that enroll a sizable number of first-generation students. What if rankings took into consideration the increase in students with mental health challenges?

I get it: This does not evoke feelings of prestige. It does, however, evoke what is happening on the majority of campuses, including those in US News & World Report college rankings (of course, in much smaller numbers). I agree with US Education Secretary Miguel Cardona, who laments the inattention to measures that really count, such as college completion and economic mobility.


How about if we turn our attention to other reports that look at higher education through the lens of social or economic mobility, such as Raj Chetty’s Opportunity Insights project or CollegeNET’s Social Mobility Index. The institutions that enroll most of the students who face significant challenges on the way to graduation are the ones we really should be touting.

Nate Bryant

Vice president of student success

Salem State University

Rankings may come and go, but status seeking will go on

In his Sept. 17 op-ed (“My old college boycotted the US News ratings. I wish more schools would do the same.”), Colin Diver has done a commendable job of enlarging the puncture in the US News & World Report “Best Colleges” balloon, nicked most recently by a Columbia professor, to the university’s embarrassment. Diver is sensible in arguing that the entire proposition has burgeoned out of control. But while he suggests boycotting participation as a solution, that is unlikely to eliminate the root cause of the rankings’ existence, which is the human need for status. This is not unique to Americans, but seeking it through the name of one’s alma mater is.


Channing Wagg