You get more of whatever you measure. As a college-admission cycle begins, how to measure better things.
I have been partial to Colleges that Change Lives. I was well past my undergraduate/graduate school days when it was first published. However, I still refer many young people to the list. One of mine went to Evergreen, for example, which was an excellent choice given their strengths. Unfortunately, experiencing the implosion of Brett Weinstein was not a lesson I expected.
This post makes excellent points on how to satisfy Americans' desires for ranking universities in ways that don't cater to the baser instincts for positional goods. I'd like to add a modest proposal for a more minor change: please don't update these lists annually.
Most universities and colleges are large institutions which, like all big organizations, have lots of inertia. By all rights, rankings should change slowly and ponderously. But all too often that's not what we see. In the US News rankings, we see MIT go from #7 to #3 between 2017 and 2018, and University of Chicago go from # 3 to #6 between 2019 and 2020. This is ridiculous, of course, but without some amount of variation, no one would buy the US News product (or any other ranking organization's output).
Still, don't just do it. Maybe rank universities every five years. But simply not every year.