Demand-Side Solutions

An interesting article details efforts by some college administrators to sabotage the US News and World Report rankings by getting enough schools to agree to decline to provide the information they're asked for. It's a good idea. TheUS News rankings are a terrible farce and killing them off would be a good thing. This even seems like a reasonable tactic.

All that said, the very best way to deal a death-blow to this scheme would be for America's colleges and universities to work together and with third parties to try to come up with some meaningful metrics for higher education performance. All magazines make lists, but the reason the college rankings are such a hit is that there's nothing out there. Ordinal rankings are inherently kind of dumb, but higher education leaders both can and should come up with some kind of theory about what service they're providing to students and some method of measuring how well they're doing it. Since the schools don't do anything like this themselves, and since their lobbyists are wildly opposed to having the government do it, the upshot has been to outsource the function to a struggling newsmagazine that deploys screwy formulae to boost sales.

If the higher education community itself provided some kind of better product, then university presidents wouldn't find themselves under US News' thumb.

Presented by

Matthew Yglesias is a former writer and editor at The Atlantic.

Why Is Google Making Human Skin?

Hidden away on Google’s campus, doctors at a world-class life sciences lab are trying to change the way people think about their health.

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register with Disqus.

Please note that The Atlantic's account system is separate from our commenting system. To log in or register with The Atlantic, use the Sign In button at the top of every page.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Videos

Why Is Google Making Human Skin?

Hidden away on Google’s campus, doctors are changing the way people think about health.

Video

How to Build a Tornado

A Canadian inventor believes his tornado machine could solve the world's energy crisis.

Video

A New York City Minute, Frozen in Time

This short film takes you on a whirling tour of the Big Apple

Video

What Happened to the Milky Way?

Light pollution has taken away our ability to see the stars. Can we save the night sky?

Video

The Pentagon's $1.5 Trillion Mistake

The F-35 fighter jet was supposed to do everything. Instead, it can barely do anything.

More in Politics

Just In