One would assume that universities with the highest rankings are the best, right?
Not necessarily, says Alexander McCormick, director of the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE). He argues there’s no guarantee that going to one of the top-ranked universities means that you will get a high-quality education. By creating a survey that discusses college students’ true learning behaviors while at school, instead of questioning their beliefs of the college’s reputation, McCormick found that previously top-rated universities did not always come out on top.
In his survey, McCormick questions students not about the reputation and costs of their school, but about what they actually do in the classroom: how often they participate in class discussions, whether they meet with faculty outside of class, or if they collaborate with their peers on assignments.
“There’s these numerical rankings of institutions, and it’s really easy to be tempted to believe that a student who goes to a school that is ranked #35 is going to have a qualitatively better experience than she would have had if she went to #36… we want to believe that students that go to these top schools all have a top-quality experience, but there’s lots of variability,” McCormick explains. “What really matters, and we encourage prospective students to do this, is to find out what kind of experiences students have…”
Listen to McCormick’s entire podcast, and be sure to consider all your options when looking for a school. After all, the knowledge you gain as a student and the experiences that you have are far more important than rankings.
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