LAWFUEL – The Legal Newswire – The US News & World Report rankings g…

LAWFUEL – The Legal Newswire – The US News & World Report rankings go online today – but the list is producing a growing backlash, with critics questioning the methodology amid the huge influence the list has among schools.

It was 1983, and lists — of books, movies, anything — were the rage. U.S. News & World Report, a struggling news magazine, decided to capitalize on the trend and ask college presidents to rate rival institutions.

Now, the magazine’s annual list ranking the nation’s four-year colleges and universities has become the center of a lucrative and controversial market of guides aimed at helping students determine where to apply.

U.S. News will release the 2008 rankings online today and in the magazine Monday. But this year’s list comes amid a growing backlash. Critics, some of whom produce their own college guides, have questioned the magazine’s methodology. At least 63 college leaders have signed a letter agreeing not to fill out the reputation survey, which now accounts for 25 percent of the rankings. More are expected to join in the boycott.

Over nearly 25 years, U.S. News has seen its rankings gain unprecedented influence among schools; some have changed policy and awarded bonuses to presidents and administrators who spearhead a leap in rankings, according to educators. But as the magazine’s influence has grown, so has the competition.

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