The Rankings & Ratings that REALLY Matter

(PC: Brianna Holochuk)

Mrs. Loo, I want to get into a good college”.  

This is the statement I’ve heard more than any other this year.  And every time I hear it, I find myself trying to figure out what it means.  Is the student talking about just the Ivies?  Maybe not an Ivy, but a “known” school?  A good public university?   What does “good” mean?  Can I quantify it?  I probably can.  And the equation looks something like this:


College =

  1. A college that ranks in the top  25 schools in U.S. News and World Report
  2. A college that my family, including my extended family, has heard of
  3. A college with a low acceptance rate
  4. A college that is “worth” all of the hard work I have put in the last four years

These aren’t necessarily bad things to look for in a college.  But, let me try to re-write this equation:


College =

  1. A school where you will be both challenged and inspired to learn
  2. A school where you will develop relationships with both faculty and students
    that will help you know yourself and develop your passions,
    gifts and talents
  3. A school that has good outcomes with regard to your future
  4. A school that will feel like a second home because you feel that it’s where you “fit”

Don’t get me wrong.  Rankings and ratings can be helpful.  They often give us a quick look at the quality of  something.  We use them all the time.  If I want to go out and eat, I use Yelp.  Should I buy those pair of boots on Amazon?  Of course I’ll look for the 5-star  rating.  

But in the case of college rankings, the jury is still out on how helpful they are.  In fact, a lot of experts in higher education dismiss the US News and World Report rankings because of the methodology that is used in determining the rankings.  If you want more information, here are two balanced articles on the topic:

College Rankings Can Be Good, But U.S. News’ Miss the Mark

College Rankings Leave Key Questions Unanswered

So, what is a more helpful measure of whether a college is “good” for me?  It’s like trying to match two pieces of a puzzle.  You have to know which two pieces fit. One piece is the college.  The other is you.

Another way we rank colleges is by how high or low their acceptance rate is.  The ‘best’ colleges have the lowest acceptance scores.  But these rankings can also be a bit misleading. Because  colleges don’t really talk about who actually applies.

It may surprise you that about 70%-80% of well-qualified students get into their top choices. Yes, you heard that right.  The college frenzy has been helped by the unprecedented number of students, qualified or not, who can now apply to college.  The real numbers show that for a majority of qualified students, they do get into one of their top choices, .

Again, if you’d like to do more reading, you can find the information here:

New York Times: For Accomplished Students, Reaching A Good College Isn’t as Hard as It Seems

Do 80 Percent of Top Students Really Get Into an Elite College?

So, what would I like you to take away from this blog post?  Two things:

First, there are MANY  “good” colleges out there for you.  They might not have a brand name, but they are places where you can learn, develop relationships, use your talents, and thrive.  

Second, fit is far more important than a brand name, especially at the undergraduate level.  And my hope is that the next four years of your life will be just as good a fit as the four years you have spent at SBS.  

So, take a deep breath, take a look at who you are, and be confident that God has a plan for you that will help you  grow into the person He wants you to be.


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