By BOLTON LANCASTER
People have to make decisions, and people always want the best. What is the best school to graduate from? Where is the best hospital to be treated at? Unfortunately, these questions can be difficult to answer without obtaining great amounts of data. The U.S. News & World Report rankings (http://www.usnews. com/rankings) simplifies the process by coming up with criteria to rank a number of different competitive categories, collects data, and creates a list of the best.
U.S. News offers rankings on a wide variety of topics, but the rankings that they are perhaps most famous for are best colleges and best hospitals. Prestigious high school students can look and see that the number one colleges are Harvard University and Princeton University while people who have recently been diagnosed with cancer can find out that the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston is ranked as the highest cancer-treating hospital. Such rankings can prove invaluable to the general public, but what exactly are their grading criteria?
For its Best Colleges rankings (http://colleges.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-colleges/rankings/national-universities), U.S. News measures schools based on seven broad categories: peer assessment, graduation and retention rates, faculty resources, student selectivity, financial resources, alumni giving, and graduation rate performance. While some people have criticized the system in the past, it is still one of the most popular college ranking systems.
In addition to colleges and hospitals, U.S. News offers other rankings that can help the average consumer: best health plans, best vacations, best cars and trucks, and best places to retire. While each category uses different grading criteria that not all people agree with, they are at least worth taking a look at in order to gain a greater knowledge when it comes to making a difficult decision.
From a journalistic point of view, the website can provide information for reporters to both build off of and question. For example, if a journalist is looking to write a travel story on Yosemite National Park, he or she can look at the rankings of best U.S. vacation spots and see that it ranks sixth. Additionally, the website lists the top things to do in Yosemite as well as the best hotels to stay at.
If a journalist is preparing to write a consumer story on automobiles, they might want to check out the Best Cars and Trucks category. If they do not believe that the Chevrolet Equinox is the best affordable compact SUV, then they can look to prove the rankings wrong by grading it by a different set of criteria.