A piece in Inside Higher Ed recently provided a case study in how the US News and World Report rankings can really hurt a quality college, and can lead to erroneous impressions of the value of its educational offerings. (See my earlier posts about the rankings here and here).
Washington and Jefferson College near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, has moved up the selectivity curve in recent year, while still managing to keep costs down. And yet, it is precisely this issue of spending that moved W&J down in the rankings. Paradoxically, if the college had raised tuition and gone on a spending binge, its overall rankings would be higher.
This points to the fact that parents and students should treat these rankings with a high degree of skepticism, and they need to look at the various element that make up the overall rankings. I have two clients who have been looking seriously at W&J, and both have been impressed by the quality and value of the undergraduate education there.