- Gallup announced Thursday it has developed a certification process for colleges based on their efforts to improve the “well-being” of students and faculty, a quality metric that could further weaken the power of U.S. News’ long-controversial rankings.
- The Washington Post reports the Gallup certification plan follows a national survey of 30,000 bachelor’s degree holders and 1,500 associate degree holders that revealed just 11% are thriving across all five dimensions of well-being: social, financial, sense of purpose, connectedness to community, and physical health.
- The certification process could take up to three years and is akin to the process builders go through to get LEED certification for environmentally friendly designs, offering a more results-based evaluation of colleges than U.S. News has offered for more than 20 years.
When U.S. News & World Report released its first set of rankings in 1983, administrators scoffed at the results and the methods behind them, but the annual lists of undeniably affected decision-making at institutions across the country. Rankings-manipulation scandals have been frequent, including one in which the president of Mount St. Mary’s University wanted to push out 20-25 low-performing freshmen to improve future retention rates, a key factor in rankings.
U.S. News has been oft-criticized for the metrics in its rankings system, which give significant weight to a college’s reputation and the strength of students it enrolls. Payscale and others have developed new ranking systems that more heavily rely on student outcomes when it comes to job placement, pay, and debt loads. Gallup’s certification process will give institutions a chance to shine on a more holistic set of metrics, which could provide a welcome addition to the market.