Ranking Colleges

The Wall Street Journal published its annual ranking of U.S. colleges and universities this week. As if you can rank colleges. Seriously, who’s to say which the best college is for you? What’s important to you? What are you looking for in a college? What do you value that perhaps others don’t? The answers are different for everyone. Moreover, who’s to say which college is of higher quality when even the colleges themselves are usually clueless about the job they’re doing of educating their students?

That said, the rankings are a reminder not to be too cavalier about your choice of college for no other reason than it is a gateway into the workforce; in other words, your choice of college will have an impact on the number and type of opportunities that await you upon graduation.

You can pour through all the rankings if you like. You’ll spend considerable time because rankings have bred like rabbits in recent years. But if you’re trying to determine which colleges have the best reputation, are well regarded by employers, and are likely to put you in a good position upon graduation, you can check one simple data point: the percentage of incoming students who graduate in four years (the institution’s four-year graduation rate). The higher, the better. Continue reading