Choosing a College Should Be About Fit, Not Rank

November 2, 2016

By The Vault Prep Team




Every year when the U.S. News and World Report releases its revised rankings, the results are met with reactions of excitement and controversy. New York Times columnist and author Frank Bruni has recently published a pair of articles, both discussing the usefulness of college rankings in the application process. 

The effectiveness of the methodology used is one of the main concerns raised in Bruni's pieces. The U.S. News and World Report uses variety of factors when assessing institutions, including class size, yield, retention rate, test scores. However, a common criticism of the procedure is that a school can strategically engineer which values to affect in an effort to gain points in these areas. In his column, Bruni illuminates the ways in which schools that cater to specific needs—such as support for veterans attending school under the GI Bill or servicing underrepresented minorities within STEM fields—are often overlooked in the mainstream view of college rankings. 

Instead, a more “fit-based” approach independent of prestige or reputation is always recommended. Sites such as Scholar Match allow low-income students to create personalized profiles that will be matched with various schools throughout the country. Additionally, The New York Times has compiled of a list of its own, guided by the quest to inform families of the best schools for low-income students. 

Ultimately, at Vault Prep, we believe that College Rankings are not the best method for determining a student’s fit with a particular institution, and other considerations are worth taking into account. Ideally, students should strive to find a school of best fit, be it academically, socially, geographically or otherwise. 




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