This is a new report featuring advice from college counselors, to answer the question: how does Columbia University’s recent drop in rankings affect college applicants? What should you know going forward? Empowerly brings you advice from our team of experts on how to navigate this situation as a high school student or as someone supporting a high school student through this process.
The surrounding debate
A few weeks ago, US News and World Report reported their annual rankings list for universities in the United States. Each year, these high-profile rankings are read avidly by competitive students and parents alike as they begin to narrow down the decision of where to apply. A growing number of thought leaders have criticized the ranking systems for being incorrect at best and damaging at worst. Nonetheless, their sizable impact on the larger scale of college status and influence is undeniable. Not only do these rankings sway public opinion, but they also serve as a starting point for many college-bound students beginning their school search journey.
A shockwave announcement
The most recent news to make shockwaves in the discourse surrounding college rankings lists falls on Columbia University’s campus. The school apparently misreported their numbers to the US News and World Report system, therefore finding themselves dropped down to #18 on the list (formerly #2). This dramatic slide for Columbia University further roused the conversation on how these rankings, their formation, and their value in college admissions.
Advice for high school students & support:
While rankings provide one source for data or information, the college list search is a lengthy and nuanced process. Students who rush through end up dissatisfied with their results come springtime, having cast generic applications to a wide range of colleges with little regard to eligibility and experience. Many considerations, including social, cultural, and intellectual aspects, should be carefully considered.
Specifically, Empowerly Expert Julia recommends prospective students “consider the following when looking for colleges to apply to—research opportunities, financial aid, location, Greek life, extracurricular activities, and major curriculum offerings, small liberal arts/private vs large public research college.”
In other words, you’ll need more than one source of information to make this decision. Seek out an expert who can make personalized recommendations, and look beyond the surface (or number ranking). Finding your best-fit schools may have a greater influence on your career, anyhow!
If you’re worried or nervous about keeping your mind open to change at this stage, here is some assurance. Your college list can be tailored for success with proper organization and steady planning. Julia noted, “there are many schools that can meet the needs and interests of students, and students shouldn’t be fooled that there is only one out there that can meet your requirements.” As you explore, you’ll likely find there are more schools that could provide a great educational experience and fit your interests than you originally thought.
Words from a former admissions officer
Empowerly Lead Counselor Connie shared her valuable advice on the Columbia matter.
“Try not to be too focused on rankings – there are over 3,000 colleges and universities in the US and the far majority will provide excellent education and experience for you!
It’s important to do your research and learn as much as possible about the schools on your list: explore websites, attend virtual events, communicate with current students, visit campus if possible, and learn about campus life and the surrounding community.
Every school on your well-balanced list (safeties, targets, reaches, and maybe a couple of high-reaches) should be a school that you personally would be thrilled to attend, and rankings really have nothing to do with that.”
If you still have questions about building a successful college list or how to navigate these recent changes, feel free to reach out. If you or your student are seeking more hands-on support from a counselor to work with your student one-on-one, Empowerly is the team for you. Instead of hoping for the best, now you can start working for it.