#CampusChat Q&A: How College Rankings Can Aid and Mislead Students

college rankings

Any time you broach the topic of college rankings, you’re bound to have a lively debate. Are they helpful? Should parents ignore them? Which ones provide the most reliable information?

Last night’s #CampusChat was no different. Our guest, Niche.com, pointed out that rankings can help students who are undecided with helpful information that can lead to a decision. Whether you believe in rankings, find them helpful, or choose to use them simply as a tool, you should enjoy the Q&A and the complete transcript of the chat here: https://www.hashtracking.com/reports/collegevisit/CampusChat/rankings


Q1 Why does Niche conduct yearly college rankings surveys? #CampusChat

A1 To help students start the process of finding a college that fits their interests #CampusChat

A1 We provide rankings as a starting point for students who don’t yet know which aspects of college are most important to them #CampusChat

A1 This year, 1 in 2 HS seniors will register on Niche to help find their school, and our rankings help the undecided #CampusChat


Q2 How do Niche College Rankings differ from others? #CampusChat

A2 We incorporate over 50 different statistics and millions of real student reviews into our rankings #CampusChat

A2 Our rankings are the most thorough, true-to-life out there #CampusChat

A2 We also release a large list of many different rankings, not just Best Colleges: http://bit.ly/1RPiGvs #CampusChat


Q3 Why do the same colleges always end up at the top of these lists? #CampusChat

A3 While ours include some familiar names, schools that top our lists are a good value and offer a great student experience #CampusChat

A3 Most rankings lists only use a handful of impersonal data points, like test scores and GPA, but ours include way more #CampusChat

A3 Rice University, for example, is #5 on our Best Colleges list. #CampusChat


Q4 How do you choose which colleges to include in your rankings? #CampusChat

A4 We rank as many colleges as possible, as long as they report their data to @USEdGov #CampusChat

A4 We ranked 1164 colleges, graded 1583, and the rest did not have sufficient data to include in the ranking #CampusChat

A4 Colleges were not included in the ranking if they had fewer than 100 students or were outside the US/DC/Puerto Rico #CampusChat


Q5 Why do rankings always include party schools? What is the reasoning behind this? #CampusChat

A5 Party schools tend to be a favorite among our users, since party culture is such an iconic part of the college experience #CampusChat

A5 We want to rank all aspects of the college experience, and the party scene is definitely a part of the campus life #CampusChat

A5 Our Best Party Schools ranking is based on student surveys and access to nightlife #CampusChat


Q6 Do colleges consider these rankings important? How are they involved in your ranking process? #CampusChat

A6 We depend on schools to self-report their data to @USedgov, so if they don’t, we cannot rank them #CampusChat

A6 Colleges are definitely excited when they rank highly on our site, because they know how much goes into their rank #CampusChat

A6 1 in 2 students will research and review colleges on Niche, so Niche rankings reflect what students are really thinking #CampusChat


Q7 How can parents and students use college rankings when preparing their college lists? #CampusChat

A7 They can pick and choose rankings that represent their interests, i.e. Best HBCU Colleges or Best Professors #CampusChat

A7 They can pay attention to how rankings are compiled, making sure the method is in line with their interests #CampusChat

A7 Most of all, students and parents can use college rankings as a guide, but not the absolute truth #CampusChat


Q8 How can college rankings mislead students? #CampusChat

A8 When rankings use only a handful of stats to compile their rankings, they aren’t telling the whole story #CampusChat

A8 Rankings based on academics alone eliminate the human aspect of rankings, aka ‘Do kids like this school?’ #CampusChat

A8 Most college rankings are a numbers game, not accounting for student perceptions #CampusChat


Q9 What do you consider to be the top three rankings parents and students should consider? (i.e. value, academics, diversity) #CampusChat

A9 Value, because college is only getting more expensive, and colleges should be recognized for good financial aid #CampusChat

A9 Diversity, because some of the happiest students go to college at a school that accepts all walks of life #CampusChat

A9 Student Life, Because schools that take care of their students encourage students to perform well #CampusChat


Q10 What are three tips you can give parents about using college rankings? #CampusChat

A10 Always check the methodology to see what went into the ranking #CampusChat

A10 Rankings are a tool, so use them like a tool. On Niche, you can filter by state or school type to find what works for you #CampusChat

A10 Remember to take rankings as a guide and a starting point for the college search. Your intuition is the best tool! #CampusChat