California über allesIn a strike against the rankings normally produced every year by US News & World Report, the Washington Monthly has released its own rankings of America's top colleges. The kicker: the big private universities didn't rank as well as public universities.
- UC Berkeley
- Penn State
- Texas A&M
- UC San Diego
How did they reach these conclusions? They considered factors that other organizations did not: "commitment to national service", "social mobility (number of low income students who graduate), and the use of financial resources and endowments (I guess a new dorm doesn't count for much). They also look at how the activities of the university impact the surrounding business environment.
The Washington Monthly is, in essence, trying to measure which universities are affecting our country the most. Clearly, they want to identify forces that make the country "more democratic". I agree with the goals of the magazine, and with many of its conclusions. Having experienced both private and public schools, the former lack the motivation of the latter. I have been enriched more by the students who struggled to go to school than those who could pay. I would, however, be interested in seeing rankings for how PhD and professional graduate programs alone affect universities. Are rankings affected by the number of low income grad students enrolled? Does the current trend of accepting more non-funded students diminish the universities?