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September 10, 2013 12:20 PM Potato Chips and Gummy Bears For Dinner

By Ed Kilgore

I don’t have a whole lot to add to a post today from The Atlantic’s John Tierney about this year’s U.S. News & World Report’s college rankings, which have just come out. He articulates the many, many criticisms of the U.S. News rankings (some of them first published at WaMo), from their reinforcement of elite schools’ “reputations” to their feeding of parental status envy to their very real role in boosting college costs by rewarding colleges that spend more. He does, however, pay U.S. News a very backhanded compliment:

[S]urely there is something good to be said about the U.S. News rankings? Yes. For parents and prospective students who know almost nothing about America’s colleges and universities, the ranking provides a rough guide to the institutional landscape of American higher education. Using the U.S. News rankings for any more exacting purpose is about as good for you as eating potato chips and Gummy Bears for dinner. With maple syrup.
So, my best advice is simply to ignore the U.S. News rankings. If you want to find rankings of American colleges and universities that are far more nourishing and beneficial, look at the ones produced by The Washington Monthly.
Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.

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