What Tools Can Help Students Pick Colleges if the USNews College Rankings Go Away?
As we publish this blog, we have learned that the law schools of both Harvard and Yale have decided to stop submitting data that USNews will use to rank them alongside other law schools. We think other law schools will follow suit. Will colleges also stop submitting their data to USNews for the college rankings issue? We have no way of knowing.
We do know, however, that USNews will not stop ranking law schools. That magazine will continue to rank law schools by considering data that schools do not provide – like job placements that students get after graduation, acceptance rates, and other factors that can be gathered from other sources.
But lets for a moment imagine a world in which the USNews rankings are no longer available. If that day comes and you are still helping advise high school students on where to apply to college, what alternative resources will still be available for you to use? (Remember, the resources and tools we list below are available now for you and your students to use.
Alumni Interviews and Networking
Most colleges and universities allow applicants to interview with their alumni. These programs were intended to provide interviews to applicants who lived far away from campuses, but they are generally available to all applicants.
Taking an alumni interview is always a wise move. With any luck, an applicant will be interviewed by an alum who is able to provide a relatively unbiased and up-to-date view of the school’s academics and student life.
A Standard In-Person Interview
Even though a growing number of colleges no longer require interviews, getting one is always a good idea. For one thing, doing so demonstrates that an applicant is interested in the school. And even if schools no longer require in-person interviews, consider asking to do a virtual interview via Zoom or another platform.
Interviews have always been a great tool for learning more about a college or university.
Take a Virtual Campus Tour
Of course, these are sales tools that are professionally produced to show a school in the most positive light. But everyone takes these online tours and whether or not you are visiting campuses, you should take them too.
Network and Talk to Alumni
Alumni are probably living nearby, so find a way to connect with them and sit down for a talk.
Get to Campus and Take a Campus Tour and Attend Info Sessions
Of course, you are already planning to do this if you can. They offer one of the best ways to get a feel for life on campus. Plus, live tours offer applicants a chance to physically visit buildings and facilities that might not have been included in virtual campus tours.
It is also worth visiting campuses in an informal way. If you do, spend some time sitting in the student union. Go to athletic events, student plays and concerts, if any are happening. And whenever you can, strike up conversations with current students, who are generally willing to offer their opinions – both positive and negative – to prospective students.
Read Campus Blogs and Student Publications
Granted, students like to gripe and report on what is wrong, not right, in these forums. But they offer a unique opportunity to learn about a school from current students.
Do Use a Good College GuideBook
Both the Fiske Guide to College and the Princeton Review’s The Best 388 Colleges are packed with lots of information which, in some cases, closely replicates the kind of information you will find in the USNews college issue. Both books are available from Amazon.com and on the shelves of your local bookstore.
Read MacLean’s Directories of Canadian Colleges and Universities
If you or your students are considering applying to Canadian colleges or universities, don’t forget that MacLean’s magazine publishes college rankings. In many ways, they are similar to the rankings from USNews.
National Student Research Study
If you are a high school educator, be sure to have your students participate in our national student research. This study benefits your students, educators, and non-profits working with youth. Fill out our quick and easy survey request form and get involved in this important work!
Career and College Planning Lesson Plan
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