Get Smart About College Rankings - COLLEGEdata - Explore Colleges
Points for this activity were reversed because you removed the college from your Data Locker.
Points for this activity were reversed because you removed the scholarship from your Data Locker.
Points for this activity were reversed because you removed data to start your Admissions Profile.
Points for this activity were reversed because you removed data to start your College List.
Points for this activity were reversed because you removed SAT or ACT scores from your Admissions Profile.
Points for this activity were reversed because you removed application details from your Admissions Profile.
Points for this activity were reversed because you removed activities and awards from your Admissions Profile.
Points for this activity were reversed because you removed your weighted GPA from your Admissions Profile.
Points for this activity were reversed because you removed data to complete your Admissions Profile.

Get Smart About College Rankings

It's easy to assume that a highly ranked college is a good choice. But is a "best" college really the best one for you?

The hype around college rankings can be difficult to ignore, and putting some "top" schools on your college list may seem like a no-brainer. But rankings should support—not replace—your own research. Here are some things to consider when looking at any college ranking.

How Does the Ranking Define a "Good" College?

It can be hard to see why some colleges get to the top—or even get on the list in the first place. Each ranking assumes that certain college qualities are more important than others. For example, some rankings highly value academic strength, others the quality of student life, and others affordability.

What's Behind the Ranking?

Some rankings rely on subjective input, such as opinions of professors or students. Others use objective data, such as qualifications of entering freshmen, graduation rates, or endowment size. The organization conducting the ranking should provide an explanation of how it collects data and opinions, and how it weights these factors. For example

  • the famous U.S. News ranking gives a great deal of weight to a "peer assessment survey," in which college presidents rate other colleges similar to their own.
  • Forbes' "Best Value Colleges" bases 20 percent of the ranking on alumni earnings, 20 percent on net price, and 20 percent on average debt at graduation. Other factors are weighted lower.

Can the Ranking Help Your College Search?

Specialized rankings can educate you about college qualities you might not have considered, such as campus safety and rate of admission to graduate schools.

  • You might want to look at rankings of liberal arts colleges to get an idea of what these types of schools have to offer. Or review rankings of regional universities, which might include schools that weren't on your radar.
  • Student opinion rankings can give you an insider's take on dorm food, the off-campus atmosphere, what students do for fun, and more. Just be sure the opinions gathered are only from students at that college.

Turn to the Ranking That Counts the Most—Yours!

Rankings can be helpful, especially at the beginning of your college search. Just make sure you understand what the rankings are based on. And remember that the most meaningful college ranking is the one you create for yourself, based on the qualities that are most important to you.

What's Next?

For Students Age 18 and Older

Have you received a Personal Invitation to apply for a Student Credit card?

Learn how to qualify for a Personal Invitation to apply for a Student Credit Card


1st Financial Bank believes students who pick colleges wisely will also want to learn how to use credit cards wisely.

cd$ My Data Locker

You must be logged in to view your Data Locker Dashboard

Log in to see all of your saved colleges, scholarships, articles, profiles and searches in one place. Access your Dashboard from any page.

COLLEGEdata Dollars are
points you earn by
completing certain
COLLEGEdata activities

Ways to earn
COLLEGEdata Dollars:

  • Complete your Admissions Profile.
  • Add colleges to your College Choices.
  • Update your Admissions Statuses.
  • Use the College Match tool.

What are COLLEGEdata Dollars (CD$)?

COLLEGEdata Dollars (CD$) are points you earn by completing certain COLLEGEdata activities. The maximum number of CD$ you can redeem is 5000. Once you have earned at least 2500 CD$, you can redeem them for $25, which will be provided to you on a Loyalty Card, and once you earn another 2500 CD$, you can redeem those CD$ for a second $25, which will also be provided to you on a Loyalty Card.

Earn points and redeem them for
U.S. Dollars

Complete certain COLLEGEdata activities (for example, signing up, starting your Admissions Profile, searching for colleges, calculating your chances for admission, searching for scholarships, updating your Profile with your admission decisions). Each activity is worth a specific amount of points (CD$). You can redeem the points you earn for U.S. Dollars that will be issued to you in the form of a 1st Financial Bank USA Loyalty Mastercard®.

How do I earn COLLEGEdata Dollars?

You can earn CD$ by completing certain COLLEGEdata activities. As soon as you sign up and activate your COLLEGEdata account, explore COLLEGEdata and begin completing COLLEGEdata activities to earn points.

Here is a full list of COLLEGEdata activities for which you may earn CD$ and the number of CD$ you can earn by completing each activity.*

Activity
CD$
×
Congratulations!
+ CD$
You just earned COLLEGEdata Dollars!
Check your CD$ Dashboard at the bottom of the page to view your CD$ balance, find other activities that you can complete to earn CD$, and redeem the CD$ you have earned for U.S. Dollars.