Revisiting College Rankings After Harvard and Yale Law Schools Withdraw From U.S. News Rankings

In September, International College Counselors wrote a blog about U.S. News & World Report’s 2022 College Rankings. As we know, high school students and their parents are almost always fascinated by college rankings, even though they should not be relied on to help students find the right college for them.

On November 16, 2022, Yale and Harvard’s law schools, two of the top law schools in the United States, announced that they are no longer participating in U.S. News & World Report’s list of best law schools. Deans at both law schools are questioning the list’s methodology, saying that the ranking system is “unreliable” and emphasizes “skewed educational priorities.” More specifically, according to The New York Times, the law school deans said U.S. News “devalued the efforts of schools like their own to recruit poor and working-class students, provide financial aid based on need, and encourage students to go into low-paid public service law after graduation.” Since their announcement, other schools have joined them, including Stanford, Georgetown, Columbia, and UC Berkeley.

One criticism of the ranking system is the weight given to grades and test scores. Not all students can afford the test prep needed for the LSAT or GRE, the most common standardized tests required for law school. Other critiques note that the rankings also devalue students who chose a public service fellowship over a high paying job after graduation, as well as students who want to pursue additional advanced degrees. 

While only a handful of law schools have withdrawn from the rankings at this time, many feel that this is a step in the right direction, and we most likely will see others follow suit.  

In general, a concerning problem with relying on college rankings to guide a student’s admissions process is they don’t consider vital factors like majors offered, goals, and social fit. This could lead to a student choosing a school for the wrong reasons instead of the school that will help them grow and prepare for their future effectively.

It’s also important to know that college rankings can be manipulated since the data to determine the rankings is submitted by the schools themselves. Earlier this year, Columbia University shocked the college admissions world when they admitted to submitting manipulated numbers to boost their ranking. Other methods of gaming the rankings system include switching to test optional admissions, which allows colleges to only report the high scores applicants choose to submit, therefore increasing their averages.

Need help finding the best fit school for your student or with any other aspect of the college admissions process? Contact your college advisor at International College Counselors with any questions you have or contact us via phone at 954-414-9986 or by email at [email protected].