NJIT's Student Newspaper

The Vector

NJIT's Student Newspaper

The Vector

NJIT's Student Newspaper

The Vector

There’s More to a College Than Its Ranking

Areej Qamar
View of the bridge between the Campus Center and Fenster Hall

There was an interesting mix of emotions I felt upon seeing NJIT’s #19 Wall Street Journal ranking on my friends’ Instagram stories. On one hand, the overly critical student in me was thinking “oh, come on, there’s no way my school could possibly be ranked this high,” as I began to go through the countless issues that I’ve noticed during my time at NJIT inside my head. Yet, on the other hand, every time my friends and family outside of NJIT would mention it, I couldn’t lie and say that I didn’t feel a sense of pride knowing that the school I go to was gaining attention in the public eye.  

It was through this duality of feelings that I began asking myself what these rankings truly mean. Is NJIT ranked as high as it is due to the prestige it carries in the public eye? Is it based on how much money the school puts into providing its students with the best facilities and resources? Or is it simply a made-up scale that wealthier universities are able to leverage to keep their strong reputations?  

I began to research what factors these rankings consider when coming to a final decision regarding each university’s placement. I analyzed both the past and present rankings and used different ranking systems to see what each scale is based upon. In this case, the scale is based upon the Wall Street Journal’s 2024 best college rankings, which primarily takes into account student outcomes post-graduation, or how successful a student will be in terms of salary post-graduation by a factor of 70%.  

This is a sharp contrast to other ranking systems such as US News and World Report, which has a more evenly balanced ranking that considers factors such as graduation rates, faculty resources, and financial resources at rates of 22%, 20%, and 10%, respectively. 

This greater emphasis on salary isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as it is one of the most important factors that students take into account when considering a college education. It’s also a great indicator of a school’s reputation, resources, and quality of education. However, it does cause issues when there is a lack of consideration for things such as graduation rates.  

On the outside, it may seem great that a university provides students with such great opportunities post-graduation, but those statistics may not seem as great if, for example, only 1 out of 5 students graduate from a particular university. This heavily imbalanced form of ranking can lead to skewed results. On the other hand, a more balanced ranking system that takes different variables into account could paint a better picture of what your experience at that university will look like.  

With that being said, we must also take into consideration whether a completely balanced scale that factors everything in equal amounts is truly what we are looking for. Many universities have their own unique strengths and weaknesses, and many students seek different things from the universities they apply to. It’s easy to dismiss rankings as nothing more than an arbitrary scale based on how much money a school sends to the person sitting down to create the list, but when countless students begin the college application process it goes without saying that many factors are taken into account as they make their decision.  

From the cost of the university to the quality of the education, there are various factors that go into selecting a college. The truth is that college rankings are a far more nuanced decision than we are led to believe. However, at the same time, it’s not much different from reading reviews for a restaurant that you were considering trying out.  

Some people who are looking for more bang for their buck when it comes to their meals will likely rate their local burger shack that serves bigger portions higher than they would a steakhouse. Others who appreciate the effort a restaurant puts in setting up an interesting atmosphere and using quality ingredients would be more likely to better rate high end restaurants in comparison to your local bodega.  

It’s important for students to figure out what they are looking for in a college education, whether that be the best job opportunities or excellent student services. By understanding the factors that you value the most in a university, you could properly utilize college rankings in a way that shows you which college is providing the best educational experience for you. 

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About the Contributors
Ali Jamil, Contributing Writer
Areej Qamar, Executive Editor
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