Which College Academic Rankings Can I Trust?

You search diligently for the college that seems the most prestigious or the best for your chosen field. In the process, you begin to use college rankings. But, which college rankings can you trust?

College rankings have garnered controversy over the past few years, and some colleges refuse to participate in well-known rankings such as the one produced by U.S. News and World Report. The colleges that refuse to participate argue that the methods used to rank colleges are flawed.

But, those colleges won’t escape rankings, as many other sites have generated rankings based upon student surveys and through public records. Rankings have become more popular, and it appears that they won’t go away. Some colleges have recognized this fact and have become creative with their statistics so their colleges rank higher on the most popular lists.

For instance, David Hawkins at CNN pointed to Baylor University, a college that provided financial incentives to first-year students to take their SAT tests over so their results would artificially inflate their scores – and, in the process – enhance the college’s ranking.

On the other hand, Sarah Lawrence’s president accused U.S. News of making up fake data based upon SAT tests that were never given. Sarah Lawrence no longer collects or examines SAT scores, and the magazine assumed a standard deviation based upon the test as if it had been examined at that college. In the absence of real numbers, this deviation pushed Sarah Lawrence’s ranking down the charts.

So, you’re back to the question, “Which college academic ratings can I trust?” Undoubtedly, ranking systems have altered the way that schools do business. And, rankings have altered how students choose schools. But, something as important as a college education cannot be reduced to a few meaningless numbers.

Instead, you might consider the ranking’s source. Student surveys used for rankings, for instance, might include sour grapes from students who have flunked out or who have a vendetta against a school’s policies or professors. But, you could learn more about a school from your peers than from some statistics. Larger corporate rankings might be more appropriate for your use, but even those studies can be flawed with numbers that have been altered by institutions to achieve a higher rank.

Other rankings are based solely upon Web popularity. Those rankings hope to show the school’s rank through the number of Web site viewers to that college’s Web site. However, those rankings can be skewed by readers who want to learn more about a positive or negative nationally- or internationally-known incident that occurred at any given school.

Probably the best way to use college rankings is to take time to view as many rankings as possible. This way you can glean information for your own list. Then, visit the schools on your list, talk with alumni and write to professors. Get to know the school from the people who are familiar with that institution on a personal level.

You may discover in the long run that academic rankings heavily favor private institutions, and that a state school is the best financial choice for you right now. Or, you may learn that the graphic design school you want to attend isn’t listed in any rankings. Will that stop you from attending that school? Perhaps that’s the question you need to ask.

Popular Featured Colleges

The sponsored listing of colleges below are ranked by the amount of visitors on our site who have contacted these schools for more information. The schools offer accredited, online programs at the associate's, bachelor's, and master's level in a variety of fields from business to technology. Online programs can be a convenient alternative to traditional classroom study for students who need flexibility in meeting their educational objectives. Online learning can be a great way to continue the learning process while working or fulfilling other responsibilities.

Kaplan University
Associate's Degrees
Bachelor's Degrees
Master's Degrees
Kaplan UniversityAssociate's, Bachelor's, and Master's Degrees. With both campus- and online-based programs, Kaplan University offers a quick path to your degree, making it the perfect continuing education school for working adults looking to improve their careers.
Click Here
Liberty University
Associate's Degrees
Bachelor's Degrees
Master's Degrees
Liberty UniversityAssociate's, Bachelor's, and Master's Degrees. Founded in 1971, Liberty is the largest and fastest-growing evangelical Christian university in the United States. Liberty also offers a broad range of subjects to choose from with various degrees available in accounting, criminal justice, psychology, and more.
Click Here
American InterContinental University
Associate's Degrees
Bachelor's Degrees
Master's Degrees
American InterContinental UniversityAssociate's, Bachelor's, and Master's Degrees. This multi-campus- and online-based university is devoted on helping students learn real-life skills and earn degrees that will help advance their careers.
Click Here
Saint Leo University
Associate's Degrees
Bachelor's Degrees
Saint Leo UniversityAssociate's, and Bachelor's Degrees. If you're seeking a broad choice of highly-ranked associate and bachelor's degree program, then you might want to learn more about Saint Leo University's focus. This college is one of the top online universities for studying criminal justice and computers.
Click Here
Grand Canyon University
Bachelor's Degrees
Master's Degrees
Grand Canyon UniversityBachelor's and Master's Degrees. GCU represents one of the nation's fastest growing on line Christian universities. Enjoy top-rated classroom technology as you earn a highly-ranked education in one of their many degree programs.
Click Here
Click here to see more colleges...

Looking for a College Degree?

Fill out this short form below, and we'll help match you to an accredited college program that suits your interests, whether online- or campus-based.