On Sept. 17, U.S. News & World Report released its annual list of top colleges after making some key changes to the way the rankings are calculated.
Once again, plenty of people rushed to see where their favorite schools landed, and some universities — like UC Santa Barbara — even celebrated their new rank on social media.
But over on TikTok, the conversation seems to be a bit different, with many college students left questioning why the rankings matter.
“everyone is freaking out over the us news college rankings meanwhile i am laughing,” wrote an 18-year-old named Melanie (@misguidedghvsts) in a now-viral TikTok. “my college dropped 33 places and i think it is f***ing hilarious. we aren’t even in the top 100 anymore but i didn’t know about the ranking when we were in the top 100 and i am having the time of my life here.”
“Why r u guys choosing colleges based on rankings,” the teen asked.
Other students on TikTok have been wondering the same thing and are posting their mock disappointment over the new rankings.
Some students have also admitted that they regret taking the list so seriously back when they were applying to college since it ultimately didn’t matter as much as they thought it would.
“wasted my parents’ money tbh,” shared TikToker @aksharaxt, who noted that her own school just dropped 10 spots in the annual ranking.
U.S. News updated the rankings formula again this year to add several new data points, including the proportion of employed graduates from each college who earn more than the typical high school graduate.
It also removed some data points from the formula, such as alumni donation rates, class size and the high school class standing of new students.
That said, the Top 5 Best Overall Colleges stayed pretty much the same as they’ve been for a while now, with Princeton University coming in at No. 1, Massachusetts Institute of Technology at No. 2, Harvard and Stanford University tying for No. 3 and Yale University ranking fifth. Stanford, Harvard, Yale and Princeton were the top four ranked colleges in 1983, U.S. News reported.
The report has changed a lot since it was first published back in 1983. Originally, it based rankings solely on peer review and published results once every two years until it became an annual report in 1988.
U.S. News mailed surveys to more than 1,300 college presidents, asking them to name “the top schools in their category based on the quality of courses, professors, students and the overall academic atmosphere.” Ultimately, more than half of those contacted responded to the survey, and U.S. News & World Report published the findings in its print magazine.
Over the years, the rankings process has evolved to rely more on hard data and analytics rather than human bias. It has also made several adjustments to its weighting system, especially when it comes to a school’s diversity. Even so, critics say the report still doesn’t tell the full story about a college or university — especially since not all schools are even on the list.
Back in June, Columbia University actually dropped out of the U.S. News rankings by declining to share data with the publication. In response, the TikToker @borderless_so explained that the news was a reminder that a college’s number rank shouldn’t be the main focus, anyway.
“As a prospective student, pay much more attention to the fit of a university rather than its number on a list,” the TikToker advised.
Countless other TikTokers are echoing that message, saying the college ranking system itself is inherently toxic, no matter how the reporting process changes.
“Choosing a school based on its rankings is not a good predictor of if you’re going to thrive there,” said Sofia Zapiola (@sofiazapiolaadvising), a Harvard grad and college admissions consultant who spoke about “toxic” college rankings back in 2021.
“If I ask you why you want to go somewhere and you say they’re ranked No. 5 for political science, that tells me nothing,” Zapiola explained in the TikTok. “If you tell me I love the research this professor is doing and I like their internship program for a semester in DC, that’s a much better indicator of whether the college is a good fit for you.”
In The Know by Yahoo is now available on Apple News — follow us here!
The post The top U.S. colleges of 2024 are in, but according to TikTok, students aren’t prioritizing rankings appeared first on In The Know.
More from In The Know: