Thursday, July 24, 2008

Do College Rankings Matter?

Nassau Hall - Princeton

I was talking to some coworkers today about college rankings.   They were talking about whose college was better and for what reason.  The topic eventually turned to college rankings which they were using as a gauge of "better".

Now lucky for me, I hold the trump card.  My alma mater has been ranked #1 for the past several years by US News and World Report.  So I win in any argument that eventually comes to this.  Now, I would agree that Princeton is probably one of the best schools out there, if not the best, but does the ranking really matter? No, in my opinion it doesn't matter, or at least not very much.

That is not to say that I think all schools are created equal, because I certainly don't.  And, as someone who hires other people, I'm not going to lie and say I don't take someone's college education into account when I'm scanning resumes.  Would I really give more weight to someone who went to Princeton vs. MIT, ranked #1 and #7 respectively? OK, maybe in this example I would, but I certainly wouldn't do it if it were Yale (#3) up against MIT.

Yet people put a lot of stock in these rankings even though there is very little difference between the top few schools or any of the schools in the middle.  I always have said you can get a great education no matter where you went to school, it is up to you to make the most of it.  Certainly, many doors have been opened up to me because I went to such a great and well known school like Princeton, but does it really matter if it is #1 or #10?  Perhaps to a few people on the outside looking in, but in the grand scheme of things, I think most people should just ignore college rankings.


  1. Yes, where you can make a difference. Even though it's been years since I've graduated, my alma mater's name still has influence on my resume. When I had interviewed for my current job, the interviewer noticed my college and asked a lot of questions about the school.

  2. T, didn't you already cover this topic in a previous month?

  3. I'm in the financial industry right now, but want to plan ahead in case my employer goes under or gets sold off. I've been thinking about going back for grad school. I don't plan on going to a far away Ivy League business school. First of all, it's expensive. Second, I want to stay with my family. So how important is it to go to a prestigious business school? If I won't go to the cream of the crop schools, do you think employers perceive all other schools to be same? Just curious what your take is.