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Happy U.S. News rankings day!

Jenna Johnson

It's that day again. The day everyone in higher ed acts like they don't really care about. Yep, it's rankings day.

U.S. News and World Report has released its annual list ranking colleges by things some people in higher ed say shouldn't be used to rank colleges -- like number of faculty, student selectivity, spending per student, alumni giving, retention rates, graduation rates and stuff like that.

The big surprise of the day? Harvard took first place. (Take that, Princeton!)

In case you haven't already crafted your rankings-day-talking-points or are looking for an excuse to e-mail a link to one of your buddies from college, here are some suggested conversation starters:

* Can you believe (insert name of college here) bumped up two spots to beat (insert name of another college here)? Rankings totally don't matter, but (College #1) is so much better than (College #2).

* Ugh. Can you believe (Insert name of college here) fell down the list? Obviously, this proves rankings are totally worthless. If only they judged colleges based on awesomeness and quality of dorm food, (reinsert name of college) would totally be ranked No. 1.

* This year the wizards over at U.S. News decided to query high-school counselors about the "academic reputation" of schools. Was this fair? Did this give well-known schools an advantage over never-heard-of-it schools? (Here's a Chronicle of Higher Education article to cite in your argument for or against.)

* Can you believe they actually spelled Johns Hopkins correctly on the first try? That's amazing.

* Most of the colleges in the D.C. area moved up in the rankings this year -- especially Washington College, which jumped from 112th place to 93rd place. Could this possibly be an Obama effect? Is it a trend?

* George Washington University jumped from No. 53 to No. 51 -- but still hasn't broken into the coveted Top 50, The GW Hatchet reports. Years ago, GWU's previous president lobbied U.S. News to list more than just 50 schools, the Washington City Paper reported in 2007.

* Totally ignore the national list of top colleges and focus instead on how well your college did on one of the other U.S. News rankings, like "Great schools at great prices" or "A+ schools for B students."

* Read through U.S. News' methodology, pick something you don't agree with and start ranting.

* Here's one from my friend Aamer: Aren't you excited about Harvard -- the (insert the name of your college here) of the East -- regaining its top ranking?

* Any publicity is good publicity, right? Even if it's publicity about how your college eeked up to No. 183? Maybe this is an opportunity for colleges to engage with students and alums? (Admissions consultant Brad Ward has been studying stats and wrote a blog post on the topic.)

What other talking points are floating out there today? Let me know in the comments or shoot me an e-mail, johnsonj@washpost.com.

Campus Overload is a daily must-read for all college students. Make sure to bookmark http://washingtonpost.com/campus-overload. You can also follow me on Twitter and fan Campus Overload on Facebook.

By Jenna Johnson  |  August 17, 2010; 11:20 AM ET
Categories:  Admissions  | Tags: Harvard, Johns Hopkins, Washington College  
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Comments

Using undergraduate academic reputation as the main factor by which the schools are rank makes this survey entirely bogus.

Posted by: postisarag | August 17, 2010 12:51 PM | Report abuse

Campus overload? You got it! That's why you need a pep talk!

http://ineedapeptalk.wordpress.com/

Posted by: joeysch | August 17, 2010 1:44 PM | Report abuse

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