The College Search

Rankings and College Choice

Question: I am currently trying to decide between two universities. I have checked the rankings of both schools on various lists. Is this a good way to decide which university would be better for me?

General rankings aren't tremendously helpful when deciding which college is the best fit for YOU. It's more important to consider your own personal priorities---and these may include everything from climate to location to housing options to whether or not there's an Ultimate Frisbee team, a backgammon club, or a Kosher kitchen. Obviously, you should look most closely at the academic programs and see if one seems to speak to you more loudly than the other.

If your two universities are ranked quite far apart, then the rankings may play SOME role in your decision. For instance, if one is ranked quite high--suggesting very selective admission and an academically powerful student body--you may prefer to enroll there if you like to be in classes that are competitive and in an environment where studying may take priority over social life. If, on the other hand, you do your best work when you can be at or near the top of your class, then the lower-ranked school MIGHT be a better match. But it's hard to say without knowing a lot more about you and the specific institutions involved.

If the rankings you're exploring include those organized by specific topic (e.g., "Schools with the Most Diverse Student Bodies" or "Best Party Schools") then you may be able to discern a good fit for you from these ratings. But do keep in mind that they're often subjective, so never take them as gospel truth.

In any case, we're glad you have a choice--even if it's a tough one--and we wish you well as you make it.