College Rankings: A modest proposal

In which we question the value of ubiquitous "Best College" rankings.


It is that time of year again when all sorts of rankings are being published. I certainly understand the allure of using rankings to save myself some time when trying to make a decision. For example, I happily read the Consumer Reports list of barbecues this summer while I considered my best purchase. 

But suppose you were trying to make a complex decision, one that might affect the rest of your life, one that depends not only on the item being ranked, but on your relationship with that item?  Would a simple list suffice for this kind of decision making? 

If it would, imagine how people might rely on it.  They would no longer need to fret over if they were making a good decision or a bad one.  They could rest assured that they chose correctly and that the outcome would be guaranteed.

With this in mind, I’ve created my own ranking system. I have put together a list* of the top 500 potential spouses in the country for anyone who is looking to get married. 

In order to make this list, I’ve done a great deal of statistical research (some of which I’d be happy to share with you). I have taken into consideration the earning potential of these individuals, their willingness to do household chores, their ability to raise good children, and several other factors.  I also surveyed their peers as to their likability.

Now you might argue that it would be foolish to rank potential spouses, as each individual brings his or her own set of needs, talents, interests, etc. to the relationship. But I will tell you that is the kind of thinking that has complicated choosing a spouse for so many years. 

My rankings are analytical. They are backed by statistics. My choices are not muddied with the emotional baggage that you might bring to choosing a relationship. You might point out that the top spouse on the list is a female, and you are not attracted to females, but I will remind you that what you are attracted to is of no real relevance in this list. My list is not about you; it is about the best spouses in the country.

If you are considering marriage, my advice to you is to review this list and to aim for the top spouse you think you may be able to attract. You may even want to aim a little higher than that, just in case that spouse “makes a mistake” and chooses you. 

After all, the higher you are able to marry on this list, the better the rest of your life will be. Choosing a spouse is one of the most important decisions you will ever make, and you should use my tool (based on my criteria) to ensure the right match. I look forward to dancing at your wedding.

* Lisa Meyer is the Dean for Enrollment and Communications at Lewis & Clark College. Before you go looking for her list of 500 prospective spouses, please be advised that Lisa chose not to publish the rankings. Based on her own haphazard courtship and 27 happy years of marriage, she has reconsidered the merit of this project.

Want to hear more from Lisa Meyer? She's one of the panelists for our September Hot Topics, Cool Talks panel discussion, "School's Out: Disrupting Higher Education." Register here.

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