The US News rankings of colleges came out the other day, and I will confess that I enjoyed the fact that we at USC moved slightly ahead of UCLA and were just one spot behind Berkeley. We also tied with Carnegie-Mellon.
I also enjoyed this piece by Colin Driver in the Atlantic on what it is like to run a place (Reed College) that refused to participate in the rankings: he finds it liberating, particularly after being the law school dean at Penn, where he had to fill out a survey rating every other law school in the country.
I have reservations enough about the US News college rankings, but the professional schools rankings are something else altogether--they are based heavily on reputation. When I was Associate Dean for Graduate Programs at GW, I had to fill out a survey rating every MBA program in the country. Of course, I was completely clueless about the vast majority of them (University of Utah? Could be great, could be awful, I just don't know). More important, I think it is hard to really know about a program unless you have worked in it for awhile. I do think I understand the strengths and weaknesses of Wisconsin, GW and USC, but that is about it. I probably can tell you whether a place is strong at research in my fields of interest, but that is about it.