Institutional Ethics: That Mostly Irrelevant U.S. News Thing

Summer’s slow death is a bittersweet time: we’re getting older, and the bellwethers of fall are here yet again—temperatures are dropping, slowly but ever so surely; the leaves haven’t yet changed, but there’s an acute sense of autumn’s potentiality in every branch; and U.S. News & World Report has published its tragically flawed list of “best colleges” once more.

Since 1983, the mostly-defunct print magazine has been forcing schools to comply with its idiotic ranking system ranking what it sees as the best colleges in the United States. Though I’m reasonably sure that its rankings were initially envisioned as a way to help harried students and parents navigate the murky waters of higher ed, the whole endeavor has slowly degenerated—nowadays, it’s almost as if U.S. News dictates the priorities of our nation’s educational complex as a whole. (They’ve got lists for everything: Best high schools, best graduate schools, best hospitals, best children’s hospitals, best health plans, best mutual funds, best places to retire, etcad infinitum. Everyone loves a list!)

The bottom line? If your school doesn’t make it onto the list or drops too many places, be prepared to lose applicants, donations, and interest—a price that many schools can’t afford to pay. It’s a terrifyingly Procrustean bargain.

…Which is why it shouldn’t surprise you that even elite institutions are feeling the pinch. This January, the New York Times reported that Claremont McKenna—one of the top liberal arts colleges in the nation—had been cheating the USN&WR rankings by inflating SAT scores since 2005. How has this affected their ranking this year, you ask? They’re 10th—a single spot lower than before.

I think that it’s insane that senior officials at one of the best institutions in the nation feel as though they’ve got to cheat to get ahead; it’s even crazier that their deception didn’t really affect their ranking at all. Even college admissions counselors—that is, those saints  people whose job it is to know more about universities than anyone else—are skeptical of the usefulness of USN&WR’s ratings.

So why do we have an annual bout of hysteria over The List? Read the rest of this entry »

U.S. News Releases Numbered List of Some Sort; Penn Falls to 8th Place Behind UChicago, MIT and Stanford

The USN&WR rankings, released today, are refreshingly simple to report: with the exception of Penn, which fell from 5th to 8th, every Ivy held their 2011 spot and Dartmouth, which crept up from 11th to 10th, every Ivy held their 2011 spot. Also, the scav-obsessed hinterland of UChicago zoomed to 4th place, ahead of MIT and Stanford. Reactions so far:

The Daily Pennsylvanian: “BREAKING”!

The paper describes a cold nightmare:

This year, Penn was tied with Duke University for eighth place.

The Cornell Sun: a “significant setback”?

U.S. News and World Report released its annual set of rankings early Wednesday morning, ranking Cornell 15th among the nation’s top universities for the fourth straight year. The Sun reported in September 2011 that the ranking is a significant setback for the University’s administration, which in its 2010-2015 Strategic Plan identified its “overarching aspiration” to make Cornell “widely recognized as a top-ten research university in the world.”

SCHOOL: Ranking in 2011 → Ranking in 2012

BY NAME

Brown: 15th → 15th

Columbia: 4th → 4th

Cornell: 15th → 15th

Dartmouth: 11th → 10th

Harvard: 1st → 1st (tie)

Penn 5th → 8th

Princeton: 1 → 1 (tie)

Yale: 3rd → 3rd Read the rest of this entry »

Ranking the Haze: These are the Haziest Members of the Ivy League

Last week we ranked the laziest of the Ivy League: those schools at which hazing is non-existent (or, possibly, so underground as to avoid detection). Yes, you may have been wondering, but who are the haziest Ivy Leaguers? So here they are, beginning with the laziest of the haziest: Princeton.

One thing to remember about these rankings—and, to a degree, about all of the Ivy League—is that hazing (both the phenomena and the perpetual scandal) is more or less the outcome of combining two very different populations: the world’s future overlords and the anxious, striving individuals who will form tomorrow’s press corps.

It makes a ton of sense, anyway, why the Ivy League is almost always awash in one hazing scandal or another. What else would you expect? The Ivy League attracts students who willfully submit themselves to the judgment of schools which constantly market, and profit from, their exclusive reputation. They bring together people who, for whatever reason, need to constantly distinguish themselves in as many ways as possible, no matter how illogical or arbitrary or pointless those ways are. Add to that a well-funded press corps with a taste for scandal, and voilà! Hazing controversy!

To get rid of hazing in the Ivy League, you’d have to stop admitting the very people who applied to any of its schools. You’d have to start admitting people who don’t care about reputation, or status, or prestige; about feeling (and, yes, being) better than others. But then the Ivy League wouldn’t be the Ivy League, would it?

Anyway! Here are the haziest members of the Ivy League: Read the rest of this entry »

Ranking the Haze: Which Ivies Haze the Least?

In higher education, anything can be ranked—even more so in the Ivy League. With so many hazing scandals erupting everywhere—at Cornell, at Penn, at Dartmouth, and on and on—the necessary question is: Yes, but which Ivies haze the most? Or the least? Let’s find out!

First, the Ivy League’s least hazy—a.k.a. laziest—members:

1. Columbia

LOL. Columbians don’t “haze.” Hazing is for commoners. Rather, Columbians take unpaid internships at underfunded literary magazines, at which they are subjected to nearly the same amount of humiliation.

Anyway: it looks like the last time any hazing-related event shook Morningside Heights to its core was way back in ’05—i.e., 1905—when Columbia student Kingdon Gould, which was apparently the name of a real person, defended himself against some sort of fraternity-affiliated kidnapping by firing a gun in the air. Oh, Columbia: how you’ve changed.

After the jump, Brown, Harvard, and Yale: Read the rest of this entry »

When it Comes to Healthy Sex, Most Ivies Get on Top

Earlier this month, Trojan released its 2011 Sexual Health Report Card, which ranks colleges based on factors like how many free condoms you can pilfer from campus health services without getting noticed. While some Ivy Leaguers are not known for, let’s say, getting laid, our schools have made sure that we will be very safe in the circumstance that sex does happen to us.

Let’s take a look at the results:

  • According to Trojan, Columbia, where students can Ask Alice how to get rid of hickeys and where to pump breast milk on campus, is the #1 most sexually healthy campus in the nation for the second year running.
  • Brown, the birthplace of naked parties, comes in 4th, up one from 5th last year.
  • Princeton, eager to get behind last year’s “gentlemen’s sex competition“, has improved its ranking from 8th to 3rd, sending a signal to students that any subsequent stately sexcapades shall be seriously safe.
  • Harvard fell from 16th to 30th.
  • Yale and Cornell held pretty steady, at 14th and 17th respectively.
  • Penn fell, from 38th to 42nd.
  • After falling sixty-one spots in 2010, from 19th to 80th, Dartmouth is up slightly to a pretty unimpressive 67th.

View the official press release with the complete rankings here.

Editor’s note: A previous version of this post incorrectly published rankings from 2010. Our bad.

The U.S. News & World Report College Rankings Are Here

Harvard and Princeton tied for the top spot in this year’s list. See how all the other Ivies fared after the jump.

Sweet relief, they’ve finally come! At midnight tonight, the U.S. News & World Report released the 2012 edition of its signature product. And all was right in the world once more.

Oh, how far we’ve come since this same wondeful time last fall. What a long road it’s been. All those days and months of barely contained excitement and eager anticipation; of clenched fists, white knuckles, fingernails chewed to the bone; of anxiety mounting to a slow, then rapid, boil; and everywhere you looked, you saw reminders of your once orderly life — your formerly promising future and once-torrid passions, both now as cold and barren as a winter-savaged Hanover. And these things, these relics, they remind you of a moment in time when words still mattered, when the world still made sense, when there was an arbiter to make plain what otherwise might have been left unspoken, unscored.

From the darkest of nights marched that staid and true, benevolent newsweekly, to restore by its awesome decree the order our lives have been lacking — so that once more, we might joyously call out to all of our friends and family members, “My college is better than your college.

All of which is really to say: Questionable methodology and arbitrary adjudications aside, we get it. Rankings have an allure that’s hard to resist. But let’s not get crazy about it or anything.

Read the rest of this entry »

Ranking the Ivy League Schools: S&P Edition

Our readers had a lot to say about our post last Tuesday about college rankings. Some accused the author (yours truly) of gloating too hard about Penn’s epic failure. Other commenters took to bashing Forbes Magazine (which ranked Columbia, Cornell, and Penn as #42, #51, and #52 in the country, respectively), with one accusing the Forbes of being “ the S&P of college rankings” and “trying to get some attention by giving low rankings to schools virtually everyone agrees are among the best in the world.”

That gave us an idea. Given the recent hullabaloo about Amurrica’s credit rating being downgraded from “fuck yeah” to “we’re all going to die”, we thought – why not look at the real S&P of college rankings: the S&P itself? What might Standard & Poor’s say about the financial stability of our dear Ivy League institutions? And might Penn be redeemed after its humiliating snubbing by the Princeton Review? Here are the results. Read the rest of this entry »

Princeton Review and Forbes Magazine Pretend to Rank the Ivy Leagues

Overzealous college applicants and nervous parents rejoice: the Princeton Review and Forbes Magazine have released their latest set of college rankings so that you can better make arbitrary decisions about where to apply this fall. First, behold Princeton Review’s rankings, which use the highly accurate method of spamming students with long and boring internet surveys and then hoping that they respond. After that, we’ll give you a rundown of the rankings by Forbes, which have stepped up the science by basing 17.5% of their scores on random reviews on RateMyProfessors.com (see their ‘method’ here). They concluded: “Ivy League schools fare relatively poorly, suggesting that their reputations might be a bit overblown.”

Without further ado, here are the Ivy Leagues, as ranked by PR and Forbes. Our reactions in italics.  Read the rest of this entry »

Two Meaningless Sets of Rankings Emerge From the Ether, Everyone Freaks Out

Another day, another set of painfully unimportant, arbitrary rankings blowing up your News Feeds. Executive summary for those of you who don’t want to waste any more time on this nonsense: Cornell (No. 1) and Yale (No. 3) made GQ’s Douchiest College list; Princeton (No. 1), Harvard (No. 4), and Dartmouth (No. 6) made Payscale’s list of highest mid-career salaries for graduates. If you care about these things, read on. If not: thanks for being part of the solution, instead of the problem.

Yesterday was the list of “Douchiest Colleges in America,” straight from the douche publication of record itself, GQ. Cornell University took the top spot on this list for being home of the “chip on the shoulder douche,” and lots of almost-funny bitterness-related reasons. I really want to know who put together the pièce de résistance on this one, a section titled “If You Could Read the Thought Bubble Over Campus.” Was it a pissed off alumnus? A gloating affiliate of another Ivy? Or just a tragically unfunny GQ writer from another football conference? Read after the jump: Read the rest of this entry »

Harvard’s “15 Hottest Freshmen” Seize Power in Bloodless, Contentless Coup

The Harvard Crimson‘s weekly magazine FM — like The New York Times Magazine, only student-produced and ineffably awkward and absurd — has taken campus journalism to new heights, past tabloid and gossip site, while simultaneously elevating freshman-stalking to a high-art.

Yes, the oglers have crowned Harvard’s 15 Hottest Freshmen, and the results are… well, we’ll let you judge for yourselves. What we can reasonably comment on are the honorees’ somewhat bizarre on-camera behavior. Here’s one of them, on what being named as “beautiful” has done for her self-esteem.

It’s like finding your purpose in life. Before this I was kind of lost, I was like, where do I belong at this school, then I woke up one morning, headed to the bathroom, looked down on the floor and there was an envelope and it was telling me that I was picked for this. It was kind of like something clicked. Like there was a part of me that was over here and another part that was over here and they just kind of… *clicking sound and hand gesture.*

Read the rest of this entry »