Saturday, March 29, 2008

Rankings ...

I'm writing this at the request of Margarita.

Law school rankings recently came out and there seems to be a buzz around the interwebs about this. People I know are upset over their decrease in rank, and I am sure that some other people are happy over their increase.

Honestly,who cares?

Sadly, the obvious answer is: many people. Rankings are a way for people to pass judgement on others, a popularity contest. While there are attempts to standardize rankings, in the end a large portion of a final rank is based on prestige and reputation, something that is purely based on other's opinion. Rankings will never be scientific and are therefore meaningless.

Back at Caltech we ranked the pre-frosh, hell, we even ranked the women (shhhh, don't tell anyone). Sure we had fancy formulas and equations to average voting, but in the end it was based on who we thought was better, something that was purely subjective. Rankings suck, and are meaningless.

Would I be saying this if I was attending a top ranked school? Of course not. Not because I would agree with rankings, but because I would not care since I would be happy to enjoy the benefits of a high rank. I already have a degree from an elite school so I can care less about rankings from any other schools I attend. Unfortunately, not many people are as lucky as me. But in the end, we must realize that these rankings mean nothing. This is a psedo scientific popularity contest. So don't cry or jump for joy when you see your school rank. Rankings are not a true a true reflection of the quality of education you will receive. While useful for employment, this is only because employers are willing to buy into the ranking hype.

I'll end with a quote from a joint letter signed by law school deans around the nation.

"Rankings generate huge hype, which is far more likely to serve the publisher's purpose than the readers'…. Applicants need help in widening their knowledge of schools that may be right for them, not narrowing their choices according to a ranking system."