BestColleges’ Guide Reveals a ‘Look Under the Hood’ of College Rankings

August 27, 2019

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The new rankings guide addresses the inconsistencies around college rankings while providing students with practical information about methodologies and data sourcing

August 20, 2019 (Seattle, WA) - BestColleges, a leading provider of independent college rankings and higher education research, today announced the publication of its Guide to Understanding College Rankings. The guide helps prospective students in their college search by providing information on common rankings criteria and demonstrating how different methodologies and data sources affect outcomes across college rankings publishers, including BestColleges.

Prospective students often juggle work and life demands while planning for college, and they need quick, reliable information about the schools and programs that interest them. BestColleges’ research shows that online rankings often fill that need. However, over the past several years, there has been an ongoing national debate about the usefulness and accuracy of college rankings.

Part of this problem stems from the number of lists available that are created using different data sources and methodologies. Rankings publishers often apply lenses to the data specific to their audience, but do not explain why the data they are using is important to traditional and nontraditional students alike. This lack of transparency and context makes it difficult for prospective students to determine whether rankings are objective, accurate, and personally useful.

“In response to the growing concern around college rankings, we wanted to create a guide that offers prospective students, parents, and educators a ‘look under the hood’ of the business practices behind college rankings today. With so many publishers using imperfect methodologies and data sources to build their rankings, they can often be misleading, unintentionally or not,” said Stephanie Snider, General Manager of BestColleges. “By outlining the common practices behind college rankings in our guide, we hope to provide students with a more personal and practical way to utilize rankings in their college search that isn’t detrimental to their education journey.”

The guide also features interviews with three industry experts: an educational psychologist, a director of admissions, and a director of distance education. They provide context into how college data can subjectively inform college rankings and ultimately mislead prospective students, while also offering practical advice for how students can understand and utilize rankings to their benefit.

“We recognize that there is no perfect ranking as they vary in both quality and intent. However, we believe that it’s only through understanding the how and why behind a list that it becomes a useful research tool. Above all, we hope that by providing greater transparency and context to common rankings criteria, students are able to find the schools and programs that make them the most successful,” added Snider.

To view the complete guide, please visit:

About BestColleges

BestColleges empowers students to make smarter educational decisions and find schools that best fit their needs through proprietary research, user-friendly guides, and hundreds of unique college rankings. As a trusted education advisor, they also provide a wide array of college planning, financial aid, and career resources to help students realize life goals and overcome educational challenges as they prepare for careers after college.

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