The rankings are not…
The rankings are not objective measures of educational quality that apply across the board to all students. Nothing fits that bill. Educational quality is highly subjective, and experts debate it endlessly. Moreover, student objectives vary so “quality” differs from student to student.
For example, a female student interested in strategy consulting wants to attend a business school with a strong women’s network. She is interested in the surveys conducted by US News and BusinessWeek on leading schools in general management. In addition, The Financial Times allows her to rank schools based on the percentage of women in class and on faculty. However, no single ranking replicates her criteria exactly. Furthermore, her decisive factors differ markedly from that of a married male applicant who prefers an urban school so his wife can find work more easily and who wants to go into portfolio management.
Similarly a pre-law student knows he wants to work for a big-name, corporate law firm. He may be more interested in Brian Leitner’s “The Top 15 Schools From Which the Most “Prestigious” Law Firms Hire New Lawyers” than US News law school rankings.
The rankings are misnamed to create excitement and sell magazines. They fulfill that mission extremely well. Understand their limitations.