The US college rankings are a great way to show people which colleges are better than others. It is nice to have information about the differnt colleges that does not require doing all the research yourself. These rankings are done by people who do a great deal of research before they make them.
Yes, the annual U.S. news college ranking is still influential. I believe the media has the tools and capability to analyze and rank the overall yearly performance of colleges in the United States. More often that not the basis for comparison are based on standards prescribed by experts in the field. The annual college ranking will better inform incoming students and their parents on which colleges to choose based on relevant criteria.
For a young person looking at a college education, the choice of which school to attend can be influenced by many important factors. An outside party such as US News would take such factors into consideration when ranking schools, and that can be helpful to prospective students. Most students would want to know that the school they have chosen works to keep up a certain reputation of academic excellence.
The US News ranking for colleges has never been very accurate. It has so much to do with how much research money and donor money a university has. I don't think they should influence a student when he or she is deciding where to go to school. There are so many better indicators out there.