A Second Look at College Rankings

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While Ivy League institutions have dominated the rankings of the best colleges and universities for years, with tuition becoming increasingly costly, many parents and students are looking for alternative ways to measure the true value of a college education. And a new ranking system developed by Money magazine has the potential to upend more well-known assessments conducted by magazines such as US News & World Reports.

No one doubts that Harvard and Yale are excellent institutions that attract the best and brightest professors and students. But according to Money metrics, based on quality, affordability and outcomes, Babson is the top college in the country. Rather than abstract notions such as “prestige,” the magazine’s rankings answer pertinent questions such as how much money does the school cost and how much money is its diploma worth. While romanticized notions about the “life of the mind” still linger, the price of a college education, coupled with a still-soft economic recovery, requires that people who want to attend college have the information they need to set clear expectations and well-defined goals.

Harvard, Yale and Princeton are in Money’s Top 10 list. But as a college degree has become more necessary and less affordable, it’s refreshing to see schools such as Babson, Webb Institute and Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art listed alongside more prestigious institutions. Graduates from non-Ivy League schools understand that post-secondary success depends on a number of factors besides status. And it’s increasingly unhelpful (if not misleading) for publications to rely on outmoded evaluations that are unable to address the stark realities facing students who want to further their education.

In order for our economy to recover, grow and innovate, college must be an accessible and inexpensive opportunity for everyone. As a high-quality education should not lead to a lifetime of debt, Money’s ranking system does a fantastic job of providing much needed balance to the conversation around the “best” colleges. By digging deeper to highlight the hidden value of unheralded institutions, these new assessments will provide low-and middle-class families with valuable knowledge they can use to make informed choices about their futures.

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