How Much Do College Rankings Matter to Students

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Published by The Chronicle of Higher Education

Prospective college students don’t care about college rankings nearly as much as their anxious mothers and fathers do, right? Maybe not.

According to the results of a survey released on Tuesday, 34 percent of college-bound students strongly disagreed, and 32 percent somewhat disagreed, with the statement that rankings “don’t matter to me, but they matter to my parents.” Meanwhile, just 6 percent strongly agreed, and 20 percent somewhat agreed, that rankings “don’t matter.”

The studentPoll survey, conducted by the Art & Science Group, a higher-education consulting firm, drew on responses from 846 high-school seniors. Two-thirds of those surveyed said they had considered rankings in deciding where to apply. Those with a 1300 or higher on the SAT were more likely to have done so than those with lower scores.

And nearly two-thirds agreed strongly or somewhat that rankings “are very important in trying to sort out the differences between colleges.” (Because the survey was conducted last November and December, it doesn’t reveal how the rankings might have influenced students’ enrollment decisions this year.)

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