In my experience reading rankings these "metrics" usually are sourced in opinions, with all their preconceptions, biases pro and con, etc.
Obviously, school engagement and environment are surveys of student opinions which are subject to many variables. Assigning different values in the form of a % to so called performance indicators is in and of itself an expression of the pollster's opinions.
As for rating student outcomes and ranking schools based on income, maybe there is some validity maybe not, but after all it is the WSJ. Why not include a survey of alum happiness with LIFE?
The magazines and schools game the system. It's a win-win for the magazines to increase readership, sales and advertising revenues as some breathlessly await and closely examine the rankings. Those schools that successfully play the rankings game come out as winners, too. Who says you can't put lipstick on a pig to make it look pretty?
Maybe, HC should have an "Office of Ratings and Rankings Information"(OORRI) in addition to its PR Office and the OORRI would solely be dedicated to the creation and development of strategies to review and promote "informational guidance" and spin to the various rankings outlets to help game the system. LoveHC
Addendum: If HC ranked #1, these rankings would be the best thing since chipped beef.
If HC ranked #1 , many posters would dismiss the ranking as irrelevant, obscure, misguided, meaningless, or some other way flawed.
To be fair, isn't this how you have viewed our relatively poor showing during the past 10-20 years in USNews, at least ubtil we moved up a bit this year? This is not a dig at all, but we all are guilty of accepting what we like and rejecting what we dislike when it favors our view.