scan0001You might have noticed our slight obsession with rankings. Don’t be fooled: What appears to be self-gratuitousness is really a public service. The world needs to know when UC Berkeley’s the best, after all.

So it was with some consternation that we learned of the latest U.S. News & World Report college rankings released on Sept. 13. Public institutions’ rankings have been on a steady downward descent, and all of them have been shut out of the top 20. Maybe rankings don’t mean anything. Then again …

Chancellor Robert Birgeneau’s explanation?

“The criteria they use to rank universities militates against public universities,” he said. “That’s just an empirical fact.” The algorithm takes into account endowments and per-student spending, he notes, but not the number of graduates who earn doctorates or Nobel prizes or the level of socioeconomic diversity, areas where top public institutions excel.

The question at the end of it all remains, “Do these rankings even matter?”

Image source: U.S. News & World Report
The ups and downs of U.S. News rankings [College Inc. (Washington Post)]

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