They empiricized a sense of higher education quality that revolves around three things: wealth, exclusivity and fame. It’s the wealthy institutions that have the smallest admissions rate and are the most well-known for their students and their professors that always stay atop the list. It’s not a coincidence that every year Harvard and Princeton go back and forth between 1 and 2. US News didn’t invent the idea or the thought that status was a function of wealth, fame and exclusivity. You could say that about lots of things. What they have done is let fuel to the fire and created a mechanism by which universities that haven’t been around for hundreds of years to climb up through the ranks and claw their way past their competitors from a status standpoint.
— Kevin Carey, on US News and World Report college rankings. [full interview here]