For reasons Mike Lowrey and I explained in this <a href="
>paper, the US News ranking system has almost nothing to do with evaluating educational excellence and does more to conceal schools that take academics seriously than to highlight them.
Why regard Harvard as better than GMU at all? True, some nose-in-the-air law
firms wouldn’t even consider hiring a person with such a lowly pedigree as
George Mason, but that doesn’t make Harvard educationally better. GMU
probably has few if any courses taught in the “critical legal theory”
thoughtworld, but that only means that students have more intellectually
serious courses to choose from.
If the college rankings, which are based on inputs rather than results,
disappeared tomorrow, schools would stop trying to make themselves look
better in the criteria which are used to calculate the rankings. The
rankings help US News sell magazines, but they induce schools to manipulate variables that are educationally irrelevant.