I'm a rankings whore on the inside, but I don't let it make my decisions for me.
I'll be at Wash U next year on a full scholarship (yay for the Olin Fellowship!) although I probably could have gone to a better ranked school with 3.65/169/very strong ECs.
(I planned to apply to Fordham, Duke, Penn, Harvard, Yale, NYU, Columbia, and BU as well, but after finding out about my $25/year SOL award in October I only ended up applying to Wash U, NYU and Columbia)
I honestly applied to NYU and Columbia because of their rank/prestige and location, not because I thought they were a good fit. I think deep down I was just hoping I'd be able to say I turned one of them down, because I figured I'd end up at Wash U either way. (At the moment I haven't heard from either, so probably bad news. However, doesn't really bug me)
Sometimes it bugs me when people trash Wash U because it really is a great school, but who cares what others think?
Well, WashU is #19 in the new USNWR rankings, so why would anybody trash it? It's top 20.
I got a $26,000/year scholarship from Wash U but turned it down for less money at Vandy, primarily because I wanted to stay in the South... I can't really deal with cold weather, LOL.