Ivy Council calls U.S. News survey 'superficial'

by Maura Henninger | 3/27/97 6:00am

The Ivy Council passed a resolution at their spring meeting calling the annual college rankings published in U.S. News and World Report magazine "superficial" and urging high school students to use additional resources in deciding where to apply.

The move was the first policy decision made by the organization, which has served only as a forum for discussion for representatives of the eight Ivy League schools. Controversy over the U.S. News rankings has intensified since the Forget U.S. News Coalition, a group started by a Stanford student, began wooing student governments to condemn the practice of ranking top schools.

In a press release, Ivy Council Vice President for External Affairs Amy Jo Finkelstein stated, "No ranking system could ever describe the important differences between our universities."

The resolution did not explicitly condemn the rankings, as some expected earlier this year. "The resolution is not a condemnation but a reminder ... that there is a lot more to a college than statistics such as endowment and student to faculty ratio," Dartmouth's Ivy Council representative Dave Gacioch '00 said.

Although the Council praised US News for publishing articles about choosing a college and important aspects of college life, the group said the presence of the rankings detracts from the value of the articles. Ranking colleges with a formula discounts the importance of the institutions' unique characteristics, the Council said.

Heather Mahar, a delegate from Cornell, said, "Cornell University has seven distinct undergraduate colleges. The US News rankings do not reflect the strengths of these diverse colleges ... This exemplifies why students must take time to research aspects of the colleges and universities they are considering and not place significant weight on the overall ranking."

US News also contends the America's Best Colleges issue should be used by prospective college students as only one tool in the college search. Bob Morse, the Director of Research for America's Best Colleges, said he hopes readers use other college search tools to provide a fuller picture of colleges than the statistical data the rankings provide.

Morse said he is glad the Council did not follow through on suggestions urging colleges to withhold information from U.S. News.

In response to the public response, Morse said the next issue of America's Best Colleges will present information differently than before.

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