The U.S. News & World Report is a media organization that publishes annual rankings of universities and colleges in the United States, among other things.

These rankings are widely recognized as one of the country’s most influential and widely used college rankings.

In response to recent concerns, some schools have decided to boycott the rankings altogether or refuse to participate in the data collection process.

The new changes that are being made now will be displayed in the 2023-24 rankings, which are set to be published in spring.

Learn more about U.S. News and World Report rankings, why schools are boycotting the university rankings, and how the U.S. News and World Report are responding to the controversy.

What are the U.S. News and World Report rankings?

For over 30 years, U.S. News and World Report rankings have helped students choose schools and programs.

Prospective students would typically reference the U.S. News and World Report rankings when researching and comparing colleges and universities.

The rankings are often seen as a tool for evaluating the quality and reputation of institutions and can provide a starting point for students looking to narrow down their options.

Students have used the rankings to compare schools based on factors such as selectivity, retention rates, graduation rates, and student-to-faculty ratios.

They may have also used the rankings to assess the reputation of a particular program or department, such as business or engineering.

The U.S. News and World Report’s rankings have always been based on various factors, including.

  • Reputation: The opinions of academics and professionals in the field about the quality of education and research at a particular institution
  • Selectivity: The competitiveness of admissions, including acceptance rates, test scores, and grades of incoming students
  • Graduation and retention rates: The percentage of students who complete their degree programs and continue to return for subsequent years
  • Faculty resources: The resources available to faculty members, such as class sizes, student-to-faculty ratio, and faculty salaries
  • Financial resources: The financial strength of the institution, including endowments, donations, and research funding
  • Student outcomes: The success of graduates finding employment or pursuing further education.
  • Alumni giving: The percentage of alumni who donate money to their alma mater

The rankings have been broken down into several categories, including national universities, liberal arts colleges, regional universities, and regional colleges.

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Why are schools boycotting the university rankings?

There are various reasons why schools are boycotting university rankings.

Methodology concerns

Many schools feel that the methodology used to rank universities is flawed and does not accurately reflect the institution’s quality of education.

For example, the rankings heavily rely on factors such as reputation, student selectivity, and financial resources, which some argue are not indicative of academic excellence.

Negative impact on education

Some schools believe that the focus on rankings and competition for higher rankings has a negative impact on education.

By emphasizing rankings, schools may prioritize activities that boost their ranking, such as research output or selectivity, over activities that promote student learning and development.

Bias and lack of diversity

Critics argue that the rankings are biased towards elite universities and do not account for the diversity of institutions and students in higher education.

Misleading and oversimplifying

Some schools argue that the rankings oversimplify the complex landscape of higher education and mislead students and parents into believing that a higher-ranked school is always a better choice, without considering individual needs and goals.

In response to these concerns, some schools have decided to boycott rankings altogether or refuse to participate in the data collection process.

Instead, they may focus on developing their own metrics for evaluating academic excellence and promoting their unique strengths to prospective students.

How is the U.S. News and World Report responding to controversy?

The U.S. News and World Report are responding to the current controversy surrounding its university rankings by acknowledging some of the concerns raised by critics and making changes to its methodology.

In this year’s spring publication, college students and their families may notice some of the following changes:

  • There will be less emphasis placed on peer assessment surveys completed by academics, lawyers, and judges
  • It will credit employment outcomes it had previously not included
  • It will continue to work with academic and industry leaders to develop metrics with agreed-upon definitions
  • It will no longer consider schools’ per-student expenditures

These changes are intended to address some of the concerns raised by schools and critics about the U.S. News school rankings. However, some continue to argue that the rankings are flawed and that alternative methods of evaluating schools are needed.

How a college planning specialist can help you pick the right choice

Students should be aware of the limitations and criticisms of the U.S. News and World Report rankings and approach them critically and discerningly.

While the rankings can be a useful starting point for research, they should not be the only factor considered in the college search and selection process.

It can be challenging to choose a school, which is why a professional college planning specialist can help you find the college of your dreams.

There is a lot to think about before beginning your educational journey, but ultimately, it will come down to personal preferences, expectations, needs, and what is most realistic.

Contact us today to speak to one of our college planners and learn more about our free virtual workshops.