Limitations of Rankings

Check this link for an interesting look at the limitations of college rankings.

“All global university ranking tables are inherently crude, as they reduce universities and all their diverse missions and strengths to a single, composite score.”

Which are more flawed college football rankings or global university rankings?

Brad Miller
Director of Graduate Admissions


3 thoughts on “Limitations of Rankings

  1. Discomfort with distilling a group of entities with diverse goals and strengths into a single-file line-up to easily decide which may be better? A curious suggestion from an admissions department.

  2. Both are cyclically biased toward tradition (i.e. what was once great is generally assumed to be ever thus) but not without reason. It took awhile to admit it, but just look at what’s happened to Notre Dame football! Yikes! And UC Berkley? – well, it just ain’t what it used to be, folks. Both football and academic ranking systems have outstripped their informational, guidance-driven beginnings to become ends in-and-of-themselves, that is for sure. Recruits usually know, if not outright care, about a school’s rank. That matters to universities looking for the best. We must care about rankings if we care about recruits; it’s that simple! At OU, where Football (with a capital F) is the state religion, the joke was that we wanted, “a university the football team could be proud of.” In any case, increasing obsession over rankings is, to me, directly indicative of our desperate need to distill meaningful tidbits out off the ocean of information in which we are drowning. I can try and research a new digital camera for my family, but why would I? I can jump on Amazon and immediately know Canon is #1 in satisfaction, according to the direct feedback of over 10,000 happy customers. Rankings at once condense and supersede critical analysis. If we buy into the outputs as intrinsically meaningful, we’re less likely to question where they came from, or do our own research to supplement what is being claimed. That might be okay for choosing cameras and armchair-quarterbacking, but not when choosing a graduate program. There’s more at stake than grainy low-light shots or a lost bet between friends. Cameras are a universal tool, and fandom is only a jersey away. Choosing a school is more like getting married, and for that reason, rankings, while certainly useful at the “tier” level, are about as useful as, say, the Dating Game, in predicting a long and beautiful relationship for any specific individual/institution combination.

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