More than a number

The U.S. News & World Report’s annual college rankings were recently released—and saw the University of Miami drop seven points to our new spot of No. 53.

But what’s a few digits? We can all agree that rankings don’t really matter in the grand scheme of things, right…?

Well, no—in many ways, they do. To suggest otherwise borders on sore loser talk, and we aren’t sore. Not that sore, anyway.

While the past few years have seen UM flip-flop in the rankings, in seemingly constant competition with the University of Florida, this latest list puts our chomping neighbors-to-the-north at No. 35, the best score of all Florida schools.

To us, the students, this slip does not mean too much. We’re here already, after all, and the tangibility of our sum academics, experiences, relationships, organizational involvement and environment (have you been to the beach? The pool?) naturally outweighs the theoretical prestige of a high ranking…even if we do lose bragging rights in this one particular spot.

But prospective students and their parents don’t yet know these experiences—“theoretical” is pretty much all they have to go on. You might even remember being in that seat, narrowing down your list of schools—your “dreams,” your “targets” and “safeties”—and using U.S. News to help you do it. So in this way, when it comes to cultivating the school’s future student body, rankings matter.

And in any case, it’s important that an institution recognizes its shortcomings. Even if U.S. News employs an imperfect system (its methodology for ranking schools, for example, is ever-changing), at the very least its much-anticipated annual ranking gives us something to think about when self-reflecting: How can we do even better?

It is wise to never rest on one’s laurels, or palm fronds, for that matter, so if this drop leads us to think, even more consciously, about striving for better versions of ourselves and our school—it’s worth it.

Of course, let’s not get too down on ourselves along the way. While we will always have work to do (and if we don’t, we’re being complacent), UM offers a beautiful environment, a thriving cultural scene, opportunities for every interest and countless other intangibles that one can’t even begin to quantify through any kind of ranking.

Just like our report cards in elementary school, our GPAs now and salaries or performance reviews—we hope—in the future, the U.S. News ranking is worth knowing and working at. But it’s not the be-all, end-all of our spirit, our worth. As is the case with any school you go to, ranked No. 53 or 153, your experience is what you make of it. Clichéd, but true!

Editorials represent the majority view of The Miami Hurricane editorial board.