Getting a Reality Check on the College Rankings Hype

September 23, 2008 2:48:08 PM PDT
Each year, U.S. News & World Report releases its annual college rankings list. The top three schools this year: Harvard, Princeton, and Yale. The Princeton Review also releases rankings of colleges, surveying everything from academics to food. But Ben Kaplan, best-selling author of 'How to Go to College Almost for Free' and founder of, says we all need to take a step back from the college rankings hype. There's more to choosing a school than looking at college rankings. He has some advice for parents and students who want a reality check on the hype surrounding college rankings. FOUR KEY QUESTIONS THAT STUDENTS SHOULD ASK TO FIND THE BEST COLLEGE FIT:
    1. Does the college support how I learn best?
    2. Does the school value what I can contribute?
    3. Does the college challenge me to grow?
    4. Does the campus community feel like a new home?
        1. It is considered the most prestigious.
        2. All my friends are going there.
        3. It has the cheapest price tag.
      To help parents learn more about applying to colleges and paying for it, Ben Kaplan is sponsoring the "City of College Dreams" seminar and expo from noon to 8 pm on Sunday, Sept. 28. at the Schaumburg Convention Center. All the workshops are free, but you must register in advance at

      "We're taking the best parts of financial aid night, the traditional college fair, school success workshops, and high-energy motivational seminars and mashing it all up with audience involvement, experiential learning, technological magic, and plenty of theatrical flair," Kaplan says. "The result is a next-generation educational event: The world's most dynamic 'one-stop shop' for all of your tuition funding, college admissions, school success, and personal growth needs."

      First, students and parents participate in an interactive group learning session with Kaplan, author, syndicated columnist, and speaker who has helped tens of thousands of families discover and afford their dream colleges, get admitted, succeed in school, pursue their passions, and save more than half a billion dollars in the process.

      Then, each participant gets to put this new knowledge into immediate action by exploring our live "college city" -- up to 100,000 square feet of essential education-related opportunities and resources organized into "streets" like "Scholarship Boulevard," "Financial Aid Avenue," "College Search Road," "Test Prep Circle," and "Study Abroad Square."

      Ben Kaplan's "City of College Dreams"
      Sunday, Sept. 28
      12 noon to- 8:00 p.m.
      Schaumburg Convention Center
      1551 N. Thoreau Drive, Schaumburg
      Register online at: