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Credit: Analyn Delos Santos

Although Penn dropped a spot in U.S. News & World Report rankings this year, experts say not to take the hit too seriously.

“Will this ranking affect anything? No,” Michael Goran, founder of IvySelect College Consulting, said. “Penn still remains extremely popular. Penn’s programs and culture attract people. Penn’s work-hard, play-hard mentality excites future students. This list will not change any of that.”

U.S. News & World Report ranked the 2015 Best Colleges on Monday night, with Penn dropping to eighth place after last year’s jump to seventh.

These rankings are meticulously chosen according to a number of different measures. The formula uses elements that experts have proposed as reliable indicators of academic quality, such as undergraduate academic reputation, retention rate, faculty resources and student selectivity.

But Dean of Admissions Eric Furda stressed that, as always, rankings need to be kept in context for prospective and current students and their families.

Steven Goodman, an Educational Consultation and Admissions Strategist, agreed that there is an immense need to look past these rankings. “Penn and Harvard are still the excellent schools they were two months ago,” he said. “And what sets Penn aside from other schools is the intersection between pre-professional and liberal arts.”

Goodman hopes instead that potential students refer to the list to find schools they wouldn’t necessarily notice otherwise, and others agree that students should focus on using the rankings for making well-informed decisions about their potential college choices.

Michele Hernandez, president of Hernandez College Consulting, said that students should use the rankings for their data, rather than at face value. When international clients come to her for college advice, she said, they all say they want to get into a top-ranked school. But the problem is that they don’t look at the other information, like average SAT scores, often making their expectations unrealistic.

“They’re not looking at the correct data or the best fit, but simply putting the ranking above everything else,” she said.

Hernandez added that there are no radical changes in this year’s list. “Most of the changes year to year are when the methodology shifts, and this year it hasn’t.”

Hernandez believes there isn’t a big overlap for a lot of the top-ranked schools — it is difficult to compare programs offered at the California Institute of Technology with all the programs offered at Penn.

“Number one in what?” she said.

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