The NACAC/U.S. News & World Report Ad Hoc Committee recently published its final report—based on a May 2010 survey of the National Association for College Admission Counseling's membership—about the U.S. News Best Colleges rankings. The final report is called A View of the U.S. News & World Report Rankings of Undergraduate Institutions from the College Admission Counseling Perspective. U.S. News staffers have met with NACAC's committee but did not play any role in developing the survey questions or writing the final report.
Some of highlights from the report are:
• A majority of college admission counseling professionals [which includes both high school counselors and college admission officers]
hold negative opinions of the U.S. News & World Report undergraduate rankings.
• Public schools and institutions tended to view the rankings slightly more favorably than private schools and institutions.
• College admission counseling professionals find useful resources in the publications aside from the rankings.
• Colleges use the rankings to market themselves. A majority of colleges that are ranked in the U.S. News publication promote their ranking as part of their marketing strategy.
• College admission officers believe rankings encourage counterproductive behavior among colleges, though they are less likely to believe that such behavior takes place on their campus. More than 90 percent of colleges believe the rankings put pressure on institutions to invest in strategies to maintain their rankings, though only 46 percent believe that their institution makes programmatic changes because of their rankings.
NACAC's members had mixed views of the ranking indicators that are part of the Best Colleges rankings methodology depending on whether the respondent was a high school counselor from a public or private school or in college admissions from a public or private college. Broadly speaking, NACAC's "members are more critical of the peer assessment, student selectivity and alumni giving elements of the methodology and more positive regarding the measures of financial resources, faculty resources, graduation rate performance and graduation and retention rate," according to the report.
U.S. News is very glad that NACAC conducted and published the survey, and it was not a surprise that NACAC's members held strong opinions toward U.S. News. The results offer unique insights into NACAC members' complex views toward our rankings.
The report's results prove that the U.S. News rankings significantly impact on NACAC's members and colleges as well as being influential in the college search process. U.S. News stands ready to have ongoing discussions with NACAC on the many complex issues raised in the report. U.S. News believes having ongoing open and frank conversations with NACAC is very important, and we look forward to discussing the report in September at NACAC's 2011 National Conference in New Orleans.
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