US

What really matters to future college students

Every year, top ranked colleges and universities pride themselves on, well, being top ranked. Yet, according to U.S. News and World Report, ironically one of the top providers of rankings lists, the potential students themselves do not consider a university’s ranking to be a major factor when making a final decision about what school to attend.

The most important factor: the academic reputation of an institution, said 62% of the 201,818 students from 279 U.S. colleges and universities asked in the “The American Freshman: National Norms Fall 2010,” UCLA study.

Other top choices were the quality of jobs obtained by previous graduates, 53.3%; financial aid options, 45.5%; and a visit to the campus itself, 41.8%.

In total, the survey offered 22 options, with “rankings in national magazines” taking the #11 spot, 16.7%.

U.S. News defends its ranking process saying, “[The ranking methodology] weights undergraduate academic reputation at 22.5 percent,” so it in fact, does reflect the wants of future students. However, the finding suggests the possible elimination of future lists.