A new ranking system

Colleges and universities should provide easy access to hard data to prospective students.

Yale UniversityâÄôs dean of Undergraduate Admissions Jeffrey Brenzel recently urged higher education institutions to reconsider their philosophies that have kept them âÄúyokedâÄù to ratings such as those in U.S. News and World Report. He said higher education institutions instead should offer potential students a variety of data that would enable students to get direct access to the most basic information. BrenzelâÄôs argument is spot-on; the vapid rankings systems have mesmerized the nationâÄôs higher education institutions and have done a disservice to students everywhere. U.S. News and World Report, as Brenzel stated, is not the cause of the problem. The news organization puts a wide, mostly fair array of factors into their ranking system that provides a good conceptual map which proves to be a valuable tool for students to evaluate colleges and universities. The elimination of rating systems would also eliminate this tool, which would be counter-productive. What has proven to be a problem, though, is how institutions have worshiped these rankings. Instead of providing students with the information they need on weighing the pros and cons of prospective colleges, higher education institutions have been quick to point out that their place in the rank debatable. A good solution is illustrated in a new website, CollegeSpeak, which will encourage students to think about âÄúthe kind of learning environments they want in colleges.âÄù The website will do what higher education institutions have failed to do by providing the most basic information on academics, extracurricular activities, and much more to potential students. The University of Minnesota and every other college and university across the country should take a hint: pretty pictures of students happily studying outside does no good; give students hard data.