Rankings aren’t everything when choosing schools
Welcome to University of the Pacific — lauded by the 2016 annual U.S. News and World Report as an “A+ School for B Students.” Or, per their website, a school perfect for “a good student with less-than-stellar test scores or a so-so GPA.”
Does that ranking sound a little less than persuasive to prospective undergraduates? Well, how about the fact that University of the Pacific ranks No. 108 on the 2016 list of U.S. News and World Report’s “Top National Universities”?
If that doesn’t convince you to enroll, The Princeton Review 2016 lists Pacific under “The Best 380 National Universities” and “Guide to 353 Green Colleges,” so that’s got to mean something good… right?
In all seriousness, we should not place so much emphasis on college rankings, especially when they don’t do us any favors. While students — and financially harried parents — might like to know that The White House’s College Scorecard website ranks Pacific No. 8 in Alumni Salaries amongst California’s 119 universities (making more than graduates from USC, UC Berkeley and UCLA 10 years after graduation), prospective students need not divert their attention to such underwhelming statistics as being the 34th most cool school on The Sierra Club’s 2015 list.
Brandishing the label of being an “A+ School for B Students” feels a lot like brandishing a label of mediocrity — which isn’t fair to the far-from-mediocre faculty, administration and student body.
But how can we show prospective students that Pacific measures up to other institutions? Instead of using college rankings to market the University, we should try to emphasize the individual narratives and achievements that make attending Pacific such a diverse, engaging and well-rounded experience.
Instead of advertising the meaningless, often arbitrary statistics others attribute to our University, we should reach out to prospective students by sending them curated bits and pieces of Pacific life.
For example, Pacific is a Division I college in sports; we receive ESPN coverage for our basketball games. Emphasizing an athlete’s personal experience, then, would be far more convincing than just saying USA Today ranked Pacific No. 5 in “Best U.S. colleges for men’s water polo.”
To convince indecisive students, we could send personal letters or photographs from current students or alumni, a copy of Calliope, our award-winning literary magazine or a rundown of shining students’ undergraduate research. Heck, send prospective students the latest issue of The Pacifican — we’re always happy to welcome new writers.
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