“Choosing Colleges 101: Rankings aren’t that important”



College can’t be defined by a ranking on some prestigious newspaper’s “best colleges” list. The fact that such a large amount of high school seniors and transfer students rely so heavily on these rankings is extremely troubling. They are limiting because they hinder prospective students from having a real experience at a university before being bombarded with specific numbers as well as stereotypes and prejudices that are associated with them. College students are critically judging their potential schools based off of rankings made by people with no direct connection to them. Ultimately, they do a great deal of harm and offer little to no help. They will lose their significance as soon as students stop giving them attention.

An essential part of college that is completely ignored by these flawed numbers is personal experience.

College is mostly about your individual growth and truly understanding who you are as a person. Through your triumphs and hardships, you will become more educated and at one with your true self. If at the end of college you’re still the same person you were when you started, then you ultimately wasted your time. Things such as making lifelong friends, going to collegiate events and becoming a part of your university are all major aspects of college that are completely ignored. Wherever you attend college is not only going to immediately grow on you, but will become a very special place to you personally because of everything that you will experience there. In college, you will meet many people, discover new and interesting subjects and learn more about yourself than ever before.

In September 2015, U.S News released their college rankings with UCR at 121st. In another one by Washington Monthly, UCR was second in the nation. The noticeable difference in UCR’s status by these two ranking systems illuminates the bias different sources can have. While U.S. News focuses more on percentage of alumni who donate and undergraduate academic excellence, while Washington Monthly focuses more on “Social mobility (recruiting and graduating low-income students), research (producing cutting-edge scholarship and PhDs), and Service (encouraging students to give something back to their country).” Frankly, college rankings don’t encapsulate the entire college journey, and thus, they should have little to no influence in the prospective student’s decision process.

No numbers can guarantee your experience at any institution and thus shouldn’t be a deciding factor in what school you choose to attend. College is just another stepping stone in this wonderful adventure we have come to know as life, and you shouldn’t hinder yourself the special opportunity of attending a specific university solely because of its ranking.

In addition, you shouldn’t completely focus on a college’s social reputation or nicknames associated with the school, such as “UC Rejects” for UCR. That nickname and ideology are beyond senseless. Tens of thousands of students apply to UCR in hopes of admission every year. UCR also boasts the only creative writing and public policy (undergraduate) majors in the UC system.

Whether it is UCR or any other college, I have a personal motto about college that you should consider when dealing with prospective students’ concerns about a collegiate ranking: “You make the school, the school doesn’t make you.” Regardless of where you go to school, you are going to get out of it as much as you put in. So don’t chase after a university with a prestigious name or positive numbers, but rather find yourself at your university and thrive without limits.

You’re here for a reason; find your purpose.

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