(Image via Orin Robert John on Flickr)

Last fall, I surprised myself – and an audience of hundreds! – by telling US News & World Report’s Bob Morse that “we want to roll our own,” when it comes to college rankings.

A few weeks ago Bob shared information about how the 2011 rankings will change.

I’m not sure he heard me back in September.

Tinkering with the methodology behind the rankings will never address the fundamental flaw at their core: college rankings represent an outsourcing of judgment.

Given the range and complexity of the variables on the college side, and adding in the incredible range of student diversity, it seems clear that it would be difficult for even a small group of well-informed students or parents to agree on a common standard for what makes one college “better” than another.

Sure, there are variables that many people would agree are important. But individual decisions about which of those variables are critical, and which are the most important, need to be just that… individual decisions.

I think information in the public interest around the college search process should be about helping to raise better questions, rather than trying to provide answers that have been judged useful by someone other than the student.

Which is why I’m thrilled to hear that the Education Conservancy‘s plan to work with the ConsumersUnion (better known as the people behind Consumer Reports) seems to be moving forward.

Now if we could just get the folks over at the National Survey of Student Engagement to put their data into searchable, sortable database format…


Posted on June 18, 2010, in big picture. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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