How seriously does Hamline University take the U.S. News rankings?

Rankings? Big whoop. (ellomilko via Instagram)

With some media outlets groaning yet again about the U.S. News & World Report rankings – a system they say provides perverse incentives that prompt schools to cheat in what’s really an academic beauty contest — I asked Hamline University President Linda Hanson what she really thought of them.

She said they’re a good source of data such as ACT scores, faculty-student ratios, and alumni giving, and help her see how Hamline compares in those areas.

But, I asked, what about all the vitriol I’ve been hearing over the past several years? Why don’t you share it?

She told me:

“To say they have that much influence is an overstatement. .. I would not say they’re corrosive, or that they’re so important that they’re a game-changer. … I talk to students and families all the time. They do their research, make college visits. The college visit to the campus is bar none, the most important [for Hamline]. The second most important factor is how we make it affordable. Those two factors have far more influence on a student’s decision.”

(It may help that Hamline ranks #10 among Midwest regional universities in being a “best value” institution.)