each year, the US News & World Reports‘s rankings of top colleges, law schools, and medical schools land to a chorus of groans and cheers. The rankings began in 1983, and were originally drawn solely from peer reviews of institutions. Did the provost at Brown think better of the University of Virginia than the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill? Since then, the publication has tinkered with the rankings several times—taking into account factors such as how many students an institution rejects each year, how much it costs to attend, and the student-to-faculty ratio—to give more rigor to its methodology.
College leaders have mixed feelings about the listing. They criticize the formula for the things it doesn’t count—such as aid for low-income students and graduation rates—while simultaneously lauding their institution’s own position on the leaderboard, at least for those at the top.
But in recent months, even some