Potato Chips and Gummy Bears For Dinner

I don’t have a whole lot to add to a post today from The Atlantic‘s John Tierney about this year’s U.S. News & World Report‘s college rankings, which have just come out. He articulates the many, many criticisms of the U.S. News rankings (some of them first published at WaMo), from their reinforcement of elite schools’ “reputations” to their feeding of parental status envy to their very real role in boosting college costs by rewarding colleges that spend more. He does, however, pay U.S. News a very backhanded compliment:

[S]urely there is something good to be said about the U.S. News rankings? Yes. For parents and prospective students who know almost nothing about America’s colleges and universities, the ranking provides a rough guide to the institutional landscape of American higher education. Using the U.S. News rankings for any more exacting purpose is about as good for you as eating potato chips and Gummy Bears for dinner. With maple syrup.

So, my best advice is simply to ignore the U.S. News rankings. If you want to find rankings of American colleges and universities that are far more nourishing and beneficial, look at the ones produced by The Washington Monthly.

Support Nonprofit Journalism

If you enjoyed this article, consider making a donation to help us produce more like it. The Washington Monthly was founded in 1969 to tell the stories of how government really works—and how to make it work better. Fifty years later, the need for incisive analysis and new, progressive policy ideas is clearer than ever. As a nonprofit, we rely on support from readers like you.

Yes, I’ll make a donation

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.