NACAC Recommends Changes To US News and World Report’s College Rankings

College rankings produced by U.S. News & World Report leave students and families confused about college quality, according to a survey of members of the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC).

In addition, an overwhelming majority (95.1 percent) of NACAC members believe that the U.S. News rankings “put pressure on institutions to invest in strategies and practices primarily for the purpose of maintaining or strengthening position in the rankings,” either consistently or occasionally.

An ad hoc committee of NACAC members incorporated member survey findings and discussions from committee discussions to  draft recommendations addressing College Admissions’ concerns with the U.S. News ranking publication.  Specifically, college admission counseling professionals aimed to correct problems in the ranking method, while leaving room for parents and students to make their own decisions about the quality of each college.

NACAC officials released the recommendations Friday at the 2011 NACAC National Conference.  The NACAC committee recommended that US News & World Report: 

Remove the 'class rank' and 'standardized testing' metrics from rankings methodologies in favor of factors that measure student satisfaction and engagement.

  • Reduce the weight of the reputational survey.
  • Encourage emphasis on fit through customized rankings.
  • Continue to evolve rankings methodologies through the association’s communication channels. 

The committee also recommended that NACAC:

  • Develop professional education resources for members about rankings.
  • Work with education publishers and data outlets to encourage development of do-it-yourself lists for consumers.

For the official public summaries of meetings between both NACAC and U.S. News & World Report representatives, visit the Ad Hoc Committee’s Web page. You can also download a PDF version of the report from NACAC.