The Ivy Coach Daily

May 11, 2024

Yes, College Rankings Matter: A Message for the Naysayers

College Rankings, College Rankings Matter, Admissions Rankings
The college rankings have an outsized effect on the college admissions process (photo credit: Namkota).

Previously Published on September 28, 2019:

Do you know how so many people — from college admissions officers to high school counselors to parents — are quick to criticize the annual college rankings? Do you know how admissions officers often tell parents and students that they don’t care about the rankings and that students and parents shouldn’t factor in these “arbitrary” metrics either?

Well, as Ivy Coach’s loyal readers know, we’ve always said all these folks are full of peanut butter and jelly. Of course, the rankings matter. They matter to college admissions officers, high school counselors, and students and parents navigating the churning waters of elite college admissions. And even if, like Columbia University did in June 2023, all of America’s elite colleges eventually cease submitting data to the kingpin of the college rankings, US News & World Report, the rankings will still matter!

A Tale of Hypocrisy from an Ivy League Parent

Today, we’ve decided to spotlight the hypocrisy of one such person who has more or less publicly argued that college rankings shouldn’t matter. That person? Beth Kobliner, who, according to her own website, believes it her mission “to help people improve their financial lives” and fancies herself to be “a money guru.”

She Publicly Criticized Obsessing Over College Rankings

As Ava Kofman and Daniel Golden reported in their piece for ProPublica about a hedge fund billionaire’s donations to multiple elite universities, ostensibly to improve his children’s cases for admission, “One of her areas of expertise is how to pay for college. In her writing, media interviews and YouTube videos, she cautions parents not to ’follow the herd with your donating dollars’ or pin their hopes for their children on getting into brand-name colleges. ’Don’t believe the hype,’ she tells them. ’You might find yourself obsessing over those annual college rankings. Don’t take them too seriously.’ The sensible solution, she argues, is for families to ’pick a few financial safety schools’ — public universities close to home. A degree from an elite college, she reminds readers, may not translate into higher earnings in later life. ’The Ivy League isn’t necessarily the gravy train.’”

But, She Was Obsessed With College Rankings Herself

It seems that Ms. Kobliner got caught with her hand in the proverbial cookie jar. You see, Ms. Kobliner, an Ivy League graduate herself (of Brown University), sent her first two children off to Yale University. And as the ProPublica piece makes plain for the world to see, her husband, hedge fund billionaire David E. Shaw, made over $37 million in donations in recent years to several of our nation’s elite universities, including Yale. 

So, for the sake of clarity, as this “of the people” financial guru preaches about how people shouldn’t be captivated by brand-name colleges or college rankings and as she warns others against following the herd by donating to these elite schools, she doesn’t seem to be practicing what she preaches. Instead, she appears captivated by brand-name schools and rankings. In fact, she is leading the herd by donating to these very colleges.

Oh, the irony. If only Ms. Kobliner were alone. But, alas, she’s not. There are lots of folks out there who are full of peanut butter and jelly. So, to all those who say the college rankings don’t matter, look no further than Ms. Beth Kobliner. And let’s also not forget the lengths Columbia went to manipulate its ranking just a few years back.

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