How much should national college rankings be trusted? And do they matter?
It's a question many college-bound seniors—and their parents—ask while researching potential schools. And if a recent ranking inaccuracy is any indication, perhaps such lists should be taken with a grain of salt.
In Forbes' recently released list of America's Top Colleges, slid from the No. 7 spot in 2011 to No. 27 in 2012. The 2012 ranking, in and of itself, is not so bad: No. 26 on the list is Boston College, and Duke takes the No. 24 spot.
A Forbes editor told Philly.com, though, that Haverford dropped in rank due to a data entry error in a federal database Forbes uses to compile its list. Specifically, the graduation rate for a certain group of students was entered as 0 instead of 108, thus skewing the graduation rate data.
As a result, Haverford's graduation rate was listed as 55 percent instead of the correct 88 percent—in a list where graduation rate accounts for 11.25 percent of a school's ranking.
Haverford's rate would "significantly improve" with the right numbers, the Forbes editor told Philly.com—but there's no plan to change the already published rankings. So, Haverford College will remain No. 27 for 2012.
Haverford has ranked highly in other reports as well. Aside from its Forbes rankings, it was ranked the 10th best liberal arts college by US News and World Report, the 15th best liberal arts college by Washington Monthly, and also by Huffington Post.
How do the rankings affect your view of Haverford College? Are rankings a useful tool or mostly arbitrary? Tell us in the comments.