This is a web site designed strictly for the amusement of those who know better than to take college rankings seriously and the embarrassment of those who don't. It began as an experiment to show that college rankings made by U.S. News & World Report essentially rank universities by the size of their endowments. Year to year variability can be mimicked by adding a bit of randomness to the order. The web site is an outgrowth of a web link from an op-ed piece that I wrote for the San Francisco Chronicle, "College Rankings are Mostly About Money"

There is no such thing as the "College Ranking Service." But the hyperbole and baloney contained in this web site are not that different from equally silly, but maddeningly serious college ranking publications and web sites offered by the media.

It is a sham and a scam to try to rank the quality of universities like sports franchises. Media publications that do this should be laughed out of existence. They simply measure wealth ("The Classic Method" on this web site), which is something that is at best obtusely related to quality.

Regardless of their lack of validity, media-based college rankings are having a negative influence on higher education. Tuition paying parents and their children are swayed by the false prestige these rankings imply. The push to get into a "top ten" school has created added pressure on students to stuff their high school years with lofty sounding, but often meaningless accomplishments. It has been partly responsible for the rise of a college application industry that provides services (like SAT prep classes and college application consulting) of dubious worth.

The rankings feed a destructive corporate mentality present among university leaders and university boards. Instead of primarily being concerned with substantive issues (such as enhancing the intellectual quality of faculty and student research, maintaining and improving academic standards in the classroom, and fostering a sense of community on campus), they principally focus on image enhancement. Their goals have become much shallower.

The shift in emphasis on the part of parents, students and university leaders from concerns of substance to those of status is disheartening.