As U.S. News & World Report gets ready to release its much-maligned annual college rankings Friday, highly-ranked colleges—and even a handful of those enlisted in a widely-publicized campaign against the magazine—are having a hard time boycotting the ranking system.
"The list isn’t perfect but it isn’t totally evil either," Pomona College president David Oxtoby told the Associated Press. Pomona ranked #7 among liberal arts colleges on last year’s list.
More than 60 schools that have signed a protest letter, circulated by longtime admissions counselor Lloyd Thacker, agreeing to not use the rankings in their school’s marketing materials. According to the AP, at least four colleges aligned with Thacker, use some form of the ranking on their Web sites. Wesleyan brags it is "consistently ranked as one of America’s Best Colleges by U.S. News & World Report." Birmingham-Southern notes that it "has been ranked among the top National Liberal Arts Colleges in the country by U.S. News."
The marketability of a top spot on U.S. News’ list appears to be too tempting for schools to ignore. None of the top 30 liberal arts colleges included in last year’s issue have signed the letter, nor have any of the top 100 universities.
"To end a corrupt and misleading game, the winners, not the losers, have to call it quits," Bard College president Leon Botstein wrote in a letter to the magazine.
"If you look at the way people buy cars, refrigerators, the health care plans we rank, hospitals," said U.S. News editor Brian Kelly. "Consumers are hungry for hard data but you can’t just give people lumps of data."