College Rankings Spark Debate amongst UVa Students

This week US News & World Reports ranked UVa as the second best public university in the country and 24th overall. While official ranking systems have historically placed UVa as one of the top universities in the United States, Wahoo students are divided on how to interpret these statistics in the first place.

Photo courtesy Virginia Commerce Quarterly
Photo courtesy Virginia Commerce Quarterly

“The prestige of UVa’s undergrad programs across the board allows [the university] to rank so highly,” said first year student Andrew Garcia. “A huge part of these rankings is student happiness and UVa has that in spades.”

“While college rankings are a good indicator of prestige, sometimes they prevent students from choosing colleges that are actually the best fit for them,” explained third year student David Lai.

“These rankings affect how people view the school and therefore they affect how people see me, whether that’s fair or not, said Garcia.”

Not all students however, view rankings so critically.

“College rankings can act as tangible proof of a student’s work ethic,” said another Wahoo Vikram Seshadri. “Going to a school with a high ranking shows people that you have what it takes to work in a competitive environment where everyone is striving to be the best.”

First year student and recent high school graduate Madeline Simpson admitted that prestige “was a factor” in her decision to come to UVa.

Another point of contention in the ranking debate is the use of acceptance rates in the US News data. About 12.5% of each school’s ranking was based on exclusivity.

“Acceptance rates are way too easily manipulated to act as a fair assessment of a school’s prestige” said Garcia.

He also referred to many schools’ decisions to shorten their applications in order to entice more applicants and decrease acceptance rates.

First year Derrick Wang went a step further calling college rankings “fundamentally inaccurate.”

“It is extremely difficult to quantify a college experience in a way that makes it ‘rankable’ but we still focus far too much on rankings rather than substance,” he added.

While UVa students differ in their opinions of college rankings in general, most agree that prestige should not be a primary consideration for high schoolers in deciding where to attend college. Nevertheless, many Hoos are glad they chose the University of Virginia.


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