But however much criticism may be heaped on the ratings, the fact is they do matter, not only to students, but to deans and university presidents. And who can blame alumni when they value their degrees by the rankings on the chart?
So, what should a serious student do? Simple. Do real research. Find the underrated schools, the schools that are better than the numbers suggest, the schools that may not play as hard to score well but make up for it in scholarship and teaching. Research the faculty and the programs. Talk to alums and professionals you respect. It takes more work, to be sure, than simply running down the numbers on the list. But these are life decisions that deserve attention.
And this year, it’s easy. The most underrated school is sitting at No. 18. It’s a great year to apply to Columbia, the very same school that was No. 2 last year.