Friday, August 11, 2006

Penn State is #3 in the country...and no, not in football

I saw this over on Ben's blog (Thanks Ben!) The Washington Monthly got tired of (basically) seeing the same college rankings report come out year after year from US News & World Report and decided to come up with its own way of ranking US colleges and universities. Instead of ranking the *best* universities, they chose to rank them based on this question: What are reasonable indicators of how much a school is benefiting the country?

They came up with three:
  • How well it performs as an engine of social mobility (ideally helping the poor to get rich rather than the very rich to get very, very rich)
  • How well it does in fostering scientific and humanistic research
  • How well it promotes an ethic of service to country
Here's a excerpt:

By devising a set of criteria different from those of other college guides, we arrived at sharply different results. Top schools sank, and medium schools rose. For instance, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, 48th on the U.S News list, takes third place on our list, while Princeton, first on the U.S. News list, takes 43rd on ours. In short, Pennsylvania State, measured on our terms--by the yardstick of fostering research, national service and social mobility--does a lot more for the country than Princeton.

Don't get us wrong. We're not saying Princeton isn't a superb school. It employs many of the nation's finest minds, and its philosophy department is widely considered the best in the country. Its eating clubs, or whatever they're called, are surely unmatched. Princeton may be a great destination for your tuition dollars, all 31,450 of them, not including room or board. But what if it's a lousy destination for your tax dollars? Each year, Princeton receives millions of dollars in federal research grants. Does it deserve them? What has Princeton done for us lately? This is the only guide that tries to tell you. That, and a bit more.

Here's the official landing page and THE RANKINGS!!! How did your school do?

I'm curious is THON was a determinent in the rankings? [Update: looks like that is not the case.]

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