Do Rankings Matter?

Writing at Forbes, Ben Taylor says yes and no. No for undergraduate institutions and most graduate programs, but yes for law school:

By now, many parents have begun to ascribe to the familiar advice: “a good college match is more important than a top rank”—and for good reason. First, according to a study by economists Alan Krueger and Stacy Berg Dale (first conducted in 1999 and followed up in 2011), there is little to no difference in future earnings between those attending an “elite school” (ex: University of Pennsylvania or Williams College) and those attending a “moderately selective school” (ex: Penn State or Miami University of Ohio) after 20 years. 
 

However, with law school it's a different matter:

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And so we finally arrive at law school, where as it turns out, rankings couldn’t be more important. For starters, consider that the top 14 schools in the nation have remained unchanged for 25 years—without a single new contender since US News started publishing law school rankings in 1989. Yes, the exact order among these 14 has changed a bit from year to year, but the top 14 (often abbreviated as the T14), has maintained its elite, unassailable status.

 

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