Okay, it’s that time of year again for another little tempest about U.S. News & World Report’s “America’s Best Colleges.” The protest is by the losers in this silly, shallow popularity contest.
This time around, the leaders of the losers are talking about developing a boycott.
It won’t work.
We live in America where people want to be told what’s best and worst. Newspapers, magazines, the Web, are cluttered with “The 10 Best,” “The Top 100,” “The 50 Most Beautiful People. . . ” etc.
Look at U.S. News’ America’s Best Colleges as a precursor to American Idol and a host of reality shows that aren’t quite real.
But U.S. News isn’t totally to blame. College administrators bought into the game early on. They also quickly learned how to inflate figures, position and maneuver to work their way up in the rankings. (Higher education is where we deliver courses on ethics. Oh, wait! We also have courses on evil and serial killers).
A few years later, in a world where the 80-20 formula rules, the 80 percent at the bottom began crying “unfair.”
It is unfair, of course, but both parties played.
I’d like to see the tainted popularity contest disappear as much as anyone, but we live in a society where we beg the media to tell us what’s good and bad.
America’s Best Colleges will thrive because “best and worst” sells.
Irony: Any of us in higher ed marketing would smother ourselves in our spreadsheets to get half the free publicity U.S. News reaps each year from telling us who’s “best.”