Students doubt importance of college rankings


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News Reporter Zachary Bertram explores the effectiveness and importance of college rankings.

DeKALB — College rankings have been around since 1987, according to They are intended to make the decision of choosing what school to attend easier for students. These rankings are made up of a variety of factors: graduation rate, programs offered, campus life, cost, academics and more.

According to, NIU is ranked as the 233rd best college for arts in America and is given a B- overall grade. Websites and rankings like these can be helpful to students who may be torn on their decision between a few different schools but are not the end all be all.

These rankings may not be as important as we think. According to, “The 2015 survey by the UCLA Higher Education Research Institute found that only 20% of college freshmen said college rankings were very important for their choice of college.”

What students have to say

Alex Farrell, a senior engineering major, shared his opinion on college rankings.

“I dislike college rankings as I feel it is an unnecessary competition,” Farrell said. He went on to say that most curriculums are the same in order to obtain your degree, regardless of what school you choose.

“These rankings did not have any effect on my decision,” Farrell said. He added that when making his decision on where to go to school, the only factors that affected his decision were cost and location.

Farrell also said that incoming college students should not put too much stock into these rankings when choosing their school. He then expressed that a certain number doesn’t correlate to the opportunities that a school has to offer.

“What the student puts into any college is what the student will get out of it,” Farrell said. “There are successful community college students, and there are unsuccessful ivy league students.” 

Matt Evans, a senior computer science major, also gave his thoughts regarding college rankings.

Evans is not a fan of college rankings. “These rankings don’t totally dictate how good a school really is,” Evans said. He also mentioned that since there are so many different components involved with a college, these rankings can be a bit misleading sometimes.

Evans also recommended that if students are torn between schools, do not rely solely on rankings. “I would not depend on the rankings. Actual college visits are a lot better than a number,” Evans said.

Evans feels that college rankings are unfair because every school has different funding. He said rankings may hold more power if schools had equal funding.

“Students are better off looking at the school as a whole, the school’s campus, and the school’s environment,” Evans said. “As long as the school has what you need, the ranking doesn’t matter.”