FNCU Analysis: Forbes Ranks “America’s Top Colleges”
When picking the best university in the nation, I look to ESPN or Sports Illustrated to see which school tops the football rankings. However, Forbes has ranked America's best colleges with a variety of criteria that exceeds beyond athletics. Forbes listed their annual ranking of the 659 best undergraduate schools by emphasizing the quality of education received, future career prospects, graduation rate and debt levels upon graduation. This year, the aspect of reputation was left out of the rankings as it was a contributing factor in previous year. Instead, Forbes took a more monetary approach on this year's list. With the nation facing a debt crisis, Forbes took into consideration that people are becoming more cost conscious, with an emphasis on thriftiness. This year's list reflects this change, but how important is reputation when choosing a school?
Forbes chose Williams College as its number one for the second year in a row. Ironically, Williams costs $55,000 annually. While this may seem like a hefty bill to pay annually, especially when this year's list emphasized the best priced schools, these students are reportedly receiving a high number of scholarships, as well as graduating with top ranking salaries. While reviewing this new list, I considered the opinion of students that are a part of the prestigious reputation that the Ivy League holds. The reputations of a handful of schools are known around the nation, as well as throughout the world.
With that being said, is that a factor that should be left out when determining the top universities? Well-known school Princeton University is ranked at number 2 and other Ivy League schools fall below the top 10 line. According to the newly constructed list, Forbes is suggesting that many schools like Yale (#14) or Columbia (#42) have an ambiguous status that may not exactly translate into a better education compared to others. However, don't these types of schools stick out as leading contenders amongst employers?
"A school's reputation can be useful if it helps you find a job, but ignoring it is probably a good thing," Yale graduate Ray "Bo" Bowen III said. Reputation does serve a purpose when it comes to targeting certain alumni for a job or while networking, however it isn't everything.FNCU intern Kristen Askin, a junior at Cornell University, commented on her university's ranking:" With college acceptance becoming increasingly competitive, I think people definitely care about the perceptions people have of the schools they are applying to and a list of "top" schools should include some measure of a school's character by default," she said. "The Ivy League reputation should factor less into ruling the academics of a school and more into history and reputation."
Certainly there is honor and prestige that comes from many renowned universities. Maybe your school holds an athletic national championship that is sure to attract applicants, or perhaps a profitable alumnus has given back to their alma mater, translating into national attention.
"Universities do carry some weight in that they uniquely have hundreds of years of history in academic excellence, and that is an advantageous characteristic that should be factored," Askin said.
I attend The University of Texas at Austin which holds a reputation around the country for its athletics, as well as its academic performances. The University of Texas at Austin will soon have a new reputation as the first university to have an exclusive athletic network through ESPN called Longhorn Network. With a revolutionary innovation such as this, the communications department, which already has an outstanding reputation among scholars, will soon be more competitive as students will more than likely be eager to be a part of the university's new communication connection. Should reputations like this be included in determining top schools? It is my belief that Forbes is taking a more literal approach to this year's list and living out extracurricular measures and atmosphere that a university can hold.
Overall, many universities have other unique attributes that influence high school graduates to flock to their campus. With that being said, I can't help but remember my father telling me that time after time that you get what you pay for. Universities spend large amounts of money to establish a prestigious and high academic reputation. While spending money for the campus, facilities and professors is most important, I'm sure many would agree that all of the aforementioned factors produce a reputation that attracts students, and parents, to consider specific universities. As a young high school student, I would research schools I was familiar with and look to lists, such as Forbes, to validate my top college choices. While financials and loans are on the minds of many college hopefuls, this new list that factors costs the best way to properly inform teens of the most affordable and not necessarily the top universities that it implies.
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