Keshia – Why the Ranks?

When applying to college undergraduate programs, the first things I considered was whether the program was accredited and affordable. Being in New York City made CUNY my best bet. Next on my list of things to consider was how far away from home the school was and what the support was like for international students to make the transition easier. Medgar Evers College was it for me! A quick 15-minute walk from home and an international students’ group that helped to make the campus feel like home. I had a great social and educational experience at MEC and was able to graduate with my bachelors and teaching certification in 3 years.  

It always confused me when friends and family members seem to boast of going to a private college out of state as better than going to a CUNY college or university only to return to the city and hold positions alongside CUNY graduates with much less student debt. The notion of prestige and ranking sadly exists among CUNY colleges as well. In a typical conversation, when asked what school I go to the response was 8 times out of 10, “Oh. Why Medgar?” “Why Brooklyn College or Hunter?” To me they are all CUNY, with different CUNY issues. Same peas, different pods.  

What is the logic behind the ranking of CUNY colleges if they are all under the same system? What does it say about CUNY’s leadership if some colleges are considered “better” than others? 

In Davidson’s chapter John Mongulescu makes the point that student success after attaining higher education has less to do with the name of the institution than with whether social systems in place that make the jobs and appropriate compensation available. I my view, “how low can higher ed go?” questions the rationale of ranking colleges when at the core the knowledge is the same. Public colleges and universities considered low ranking have produced just as much prestigious individuals in society as ivy league. The ranking then is more of the possible connections that come with being in a particular school which makes higher education more of a popularity or exclusivity contest than about learning. 

3 thoughts on “Keshia – Why the Ranks?

  1. Katina Rogers (she/her)

    The question of how we implicitly rank institutions is interesting, Keshia. I wonder if we can imagine what it might look like if institutional comparisons were not at all hierarchical? What might that make possible, or impossible? What might be visible in new ways?

  2. Keshia James Post author

    Thanks Matt. The article ties in nicely with this week’s readings.
    Katina Re: ” I wonder if we can imagine what it might look like if institutional comparisons were not at all hierarchical? ” I thinking that removing the SAT may be a step in a more even playing field for higher ed. institutions. Elite colleges may now see the need to adopt some of the features of community colleges to meet the needs of a more economically and culturally diverse student body, while lower tier schools may find it beneficial to improve on their course offerings and attract better funding.

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