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The College Solution: A Guide for Everyone Looking for the Right School at the Right Price by Lynn O’Shaughnessy

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What’s Wrong with the Rankings?

For a ranking system that carries such tremendous weight, few families appreciate how the numbers are strung together. In an interview with The Chronicle of Higher Education, the magazine’s editor called the rankings a “journalistic device” that he said is “our best judgment of what is important.”

The magazine’s methodology, which has been analyzed every which way by academics, clearly favors certain types of institutions. The most obvious winners are the Ivy League. One reason why Harvard, Princeton, Yale, and the other academic superstars remain insulated from competitors is because 25% of a school’s ranking is based simply on its reputation—deserved or not.

Each year, the magazine sends surveys to college administrators ...

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