Interesting But Relevant?

US News & World Report went from the irrelevant step sister behind Time and Newsweek to a major player for its annual rankings of US universities, graduate schools, and hospitals. Though these lists are roundly denounced for being meaningless, law schools do everything in their power to improve their numbers (including sending out free iTunes cards to applicants).

Recently, US News released their World's Best Colleges and, unsurprisingly, Harvard is number 1. The list was put together based on 6 categories: Academic Peer Review, Employer Review, Student to Faculty Ratio, Proportion of International Faculty, Proportion of International Students, and Citations Per Faculty.

The University of Tokyo is the top Asian university that came in at 19th, while University of Hong Kong was 26th. Two other HK institutions were in the top 50 as Hong Kong University of Science and Technology was 39th and Chinese University of Hong Kong was 42nd. This would surprise a lot of HKers as the only school people want to attend is HKU. Beijing University was the highest mainland institute, coming in at 50th, no surprise, but the low ranking (especially behind the HK schools) may shock a few.

Other Chinese schools on the list:
Qinghua University, 56
University of Southern California, 102 (couldn't pass this up)
Fudan University, 113
University of Science and Technology of China, 141
Nanjing University, 143
Shanghai Jiaotong University, 144

So what do the rankings mean? Is there any importance to them beyond just an interesting discussion? How does one decide Beida is 50th and Dartmouth is 54th and does it even matter to anyone? Anyways, I'm a sucker for lists.

And while we're at it, some notables for our writers/readers:
King's College London, 22
University of Virginia, 96
Georgetown University, 110
Indiana University, 170

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