Print media is dead, and the Canadian magazine Maclean’s is still grasping at millennial straws by releasing an unending amount of dodgy university rankings.
Every year, Maclean’s releases a Guide to Canadian Universities issue, and related articles online. The increasingly right-wing focused magazine publishes mainly political and news articles, so what could go wrong when the publish university related content? While some metrics in these articles are objective, like student/faculty ratios, others like how hard students work and “party hard”, are poorly conducted at best and laughably dumb at worst. For the results on the latter article, the University of Alberta was dead last on the Maclean’s list which included 20 schools.
The data was taken from questionnaires, where students were asked to list their average weekly times spent “partying hard” and studying, and then ranked on both of those metrics. A minimum of 100 responses were needed from schools to be counted in the poll. The results, though, shouldn’t just be taken with a grain of salt. They should be taken with the saltiness of the tears from one million PLLC Scholars.
So does U of A’s ranking mean anything worthwhile? We can start to answer that question by first asking what the hell partying hard means here. Sadly, the party animals over at Maclean’s didn’t specify in the poll. Does it mean Chad from Dalhousie got so hammered he woke up face down on the beach? Does it mean Cailtleyn from Carleton decided to take four Adderall in the library instead of two? Or is it that Amanda from the U of A drank too many Aprikats at RATT and ruined trivia for everyone? Who knows.
It’s almost as if this was a quickly put together, incomplete, and askew list with a mega-clickbait title used to get views for a publication that’s rapidly becoming irrelevant. And who knows, maybe it’s working. I’m sitting here writing this, aren’t I?
But the overlying trend here is that third-party university rankings are largely meaningless. Especially coming from a magazine like Maclean’s.
In the past, Maclean’s has been criticized for its aggregate ranking by none other than previous University of Alberta president, Indira Samarasekera, who said, “It’s time to question these third-party rankings that are actually marketing driven, designed to sell particular issues of a publication with repurposing of their content into even higher sales volume special editions with year-long shelf life.” Meaning that they’re there to make money, not necessarily to inform through painstaking research and analysis.
It should be easy to conclude no one should give a shit about Maclean’s University ranking articles. If you like partying, go partying. If you’d rather study, then study. The aforementioned article will never affect your life. And please, don’t be the boring asshole who brags about how some 112-year-old magazine ranked your school as “the top party school in Canada” all over social media. Because in the end, it’s all just some numbers and charts put together to sell a mediocre right-wing magazine.