Are College Ratings Worth Paying Attention To?

College ratings are one of the ways that many students and their families choose to look at schools they’re thinking of applying to. Many schools and educational institutions rank colleges by a number of different criteria. Organizations that create college ratings include Forbes Magazine, U.S. News and World Report, The Wall Street Journal, and now Veritas Prep.

Most college ratings systems will look at aspects of campus life, academic reputation and social aspects of the school. These could include availability of career services, community events for LGBT students and the quality of dorms. Extracurricular activities will also count toward the final rating. Some groups also include reviews of the dining commons, giving you an idea of the quality of food there.

One of the best things about college rating systems is that they often provide hard numbers on schools. These numbers allow you to determine the size of the student population compared to faculty. You can also see the population of the town, and what percentage of first-year students return for a second year at the college. This information can serve a useful purpose as you are narrowing down a choice for a school.

How Important are College Ratings?

College ratings are a good way to get a general sense of a school. They can help you see at a glance if a college may be heavily religious or have a party atmosphere. When schools are compared side-by-side, ratings can help you eliminate schools that “just don’t feel right.” These ratings can also help you get a feel for some of the lesser-known aspects of a school. For instance, you can find out the male to female ratio at a school.

However, don’t let ratings be the beginning and end of your research on schools. The methodology of rankings is not consistent and there is no way of knowing the accuracy of a given rating. What you consider to be a sports-minded institution may not seem that way to the people doing the rating. It is best to research a number of rankings as you are just beginning to narrow your search. This way, the quick, easy availability of data can help you quickly eliminate institutions. That can save you time and money applying to schools, which are not a good fit for you.

Rating the Rating Process

College ratings have been around a long time and they’re not going away anytime soon. Make sure you look at several ratings for any schools you are considering, and always consider the source when you do so. Your ideas may not agree. When used appropriately, college ratings are a great tool available to students who are looking to apply to universities.

Bobby Touran is the founder and CEO of ApplyKit. ApplyKit helps students manage their entire college application process and also provides key resources to help them excel every step of the way. Visit and create a free account today!