PSE rankings rarely capture PSE's core mission, but grow increasingly popular

March 2, 2015

The already crowded space of college and university rankings seems to be getting more packed with each passing day. Many are skeptical of the value of rankings; Corbin Martin Campbell, a professor at Teachers College of Columbia University, noted that few rankings "speak to the education core of an institution," or take into account the rich, relevant data that institutions themselves possess. Nevertheless, each new entrant tries to position itself as an innovator in the market, basing scores on things like post-PSE outcomes and student debt. Money magazine's rankings, for instance, focus on affordability and the return on graduates' education investment. Some websites, such as PayScale and LinkedIn, use the rankings as a means to increase their own membership or to market their own services. PayScale, for instance, now has US colleges encouraging their alumni to submit salary data to the website. PayScale gets more data, while the college—hopefully—moves up in the rankings. Of course, most publications ultimately publish rankings because they sell. "Everybody likes a good list," said Diane Harris, an editor at MoneyThe Chronicle of Higher Education (Subscription Required)