Each year after we publish our America's Best Colleges rankings, we study ways to improve them so they continue to reflect current developments in higher education and use the best data we can collect. As a result of the most recent evaluation process, U.S.News & World Report for the first time ever is asking high school counselors for their views on undergraduate programs at American colleges and universities.
Since we started doing the America's Best Colleges rankings over 20 years ago, high school counselors have frequently asked why we don't seek more input from them. "We know a lot about colleges, and we play a key gatekeeper role in the college admission process," they say. We agree. We know that high school college counselors play a pivotal role in assisting students and their parents as they make choices about pursuing higher education. We hope that the counselors we survey will respond so their views can be heard.
The high school counselors we are asking to participate are all from the 1,600 public high schools nationwide that made the December 2007 U.S.News & World Report's America's Best High Schools rankings. One U.S. News survey to rate colleges in the national universities category is being sent to one counselor at each of 800 of these high schools nationwide, and a separate survey to rate colleges in the liberal arts colleges category is being sent to one counselor at each of the other 800 schools.
How will U.S.News & World Report use these data? We think it's responsible to wait until we analyze the results before we commit to how to utilize this information. Nevertheless, our goal is to publish the findings in some form in the upcoming 2009 edition of America's Best Colleges, available in August 2008.