The Ivy Coach Daily

June 22, 2023

Columbia University Quits U.S. News Ranking

The library at Columbia University is lit up at night at the end of a path.
Columbia has dropped out of the US News undergraduate rankings after its 2022 scandal (photo credit: Andrew Chen).

“If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?” Columbia University, the Ivy League school that ranked #2 in the 2022 US News & World Report college ranking until one of its own mathematics professors, Michael Thaddeus, brought to light that the university misreported data to the publication leading to a steep fall to #18 in the 2023 US News ranking, has dropped out of the 2024 rankings.

Columbia Becomes First Major University to Drop Out of US News Ranking

With the move, Columbia has become the first major university to spurn the all-important rankings by refusing to submit data. It’s a not-so-stunning turn of events in light of the scandal’s cloud that has hung over the university this past year and the retribution the school faced by the publication for supplying them with incorrect data.

As Stephanie Saul and Anemona Hartocollis report for The New York Times in a piece about Columbia’s exit from the US News rankings, “Columbia said it had become concerned about the ‘outsized influence’ the rankings played in the undergraduate admissions process. ‘Much is lost in this approach,’ the university said in an announcement signed by officials including Mary C. Boyce, Columbia’s provost.”

Columbia Faced Retribution from US News for Misreporting Data

Of course, Columbia didn’t seem overly concerned with the “outsized influence” the US News rankings enjoy in American higher education when the school ranked #2. How the mighty have fallen and now have sour grapes!

But what will become of the Ivy League school that’s given the cold shoulder to the kingpin of all college rankings? Our loyal readers know that we at Ivy Coach have a crystal ball, and our crystal ball hereby predicts that Columbia will fall even further in the 2024 US News ranking from its #18 slot. That’s right. We can envision Columbia falling into a ranking in the 20s this September.

Columbia Will Still Appear in the 2024 US News Ranking

And, yes, Columbia will still appear in the 2024 US News ranking because US News — in a defensive posture to the announcements that numerous elite law and medical schools would no longer report data to US News — no longer relies on information provided by the universities. After all, where would US News be without its rankings?

So while longtime critics of the methodology and influence of the US News rankings, like Malcolm Gladwell, who recently released a terrific podcast on Columbia’s rankings scandal, are likely licking their lips that the school’s departure from US News could spell trouble for the publication, we suspect it will be more akin to a tree falling in a forest.

Other Elite Universities Will Likely Drop Out of Rankings, But It Won’t Matter

In the coming months, there will, without question, be other elite universities that join Columbia in dropping out of the US News rankings. But the schools will still be ranked. The rankings will still be valued. And the college admissions process, primarily shaped by the outsized influence of the US News rankings, will continue as though nothing has changed.

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