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Reed and the Rankings Game

By Chris Lydgate ’90 on September 10, 2013 12:34 PM

Meaningless arrows, questionable data.

The Atlantic published a great article today about the hollowness of the college rankings compiled by US News and World Report. Written by retired Boston College professor John Tierney, the piece highlights the problems that plague the US News system—dubious data, arbitrary rules, and a one-size-fits-all approach, to name a few.

Of course, these were the same problems that persuaded Reed’s then-president Steve Koblik to pull out of the USN rankings back in 1995. It’s a shame to see that matters haven’t gotten much better.

Reed still doesn’t participate in USN, although the magazine insists on ranking us anyway. Which is too bad—as Tierney points out, the USN system remains surprisingly popular, despite an unrelenting stream of criticism through the decades. On the other hand, the last several years have witnessed the rise of more comprehensive alternatives. Perhaps one day they'll supplant the USN juggernaut. In the meantime, USN has released its latest report. Like Tierney, I’ll probably peek at the rankings, but—as they say in the ads for the Oregon lottery—for entertainment purposes only.