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Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Before you get all bent out of shape about the rankings, take a look at this chart.

I played around with the info in the USNWR rankings, and barring some transposition of numbers on my part, here's what I found.

The bands had roughly the same number of schools in them, although band 3 (51-72) had a few more schools than the others.  Is there a big difference between the 1-24 group and the 79-100 group?  Of course there is.  There's even a big difference between schools in the 1-24 group and schools in the 26-49 range.  (Please don't yell at me, schools in the 26-29 range--I know that you just missed the cut-off.)  But there's not a big difference between the schools in the 51-72 range and the 79-100 range.  For those of you trying to choose between schools in the third and fourth groups, just remember this Ellen DeGeneres clip.  

And don't get me started on how the various components of the rankings are rated.  I could go on for hours about why I disagree with the way that the methodology works.

The differences in various clusters in USNWR's rankings are about as small as the difference in sitting on a plane with your seat in the upright position and sitting with your seat "reclined."  So pay more attention to the financial package that you're being offered, the job placement and bar passage rates of the schools you're considering, how helpful the alumni of the school are, and where in the country you think that you'd like to live.  Those are the real factors to consider, no matter what any particular year's rankings say.

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