“Most Overrated” University Overcomes Princeton in US News Rankings

If you’re anything like me, you’ve been sitting around wondering, “When will Harvard get the recognition it deserves?” The wait is over, my friend. In US News and World Report‘s 2009 “National University Rankings,” Harvard surpassed Princeton for the top spot, ending 8 straight years of New Jersey rule. This comes on the heels of Princeton’s first-place finish in the flawed but entertaining Forbes.com best college list.

Harvard, incidentally, was just ranked “Most Overrated” in Radar Magazine’s guide to America’s worst colleges. The guide cites Harvard’s 25% virgin rate. But would you really want to have sex with that twenty-five percent? In other news, Cornell is listed as the runner-up to “Most Overrated.” When you think about it, it’s kind of a compliment. That is, until you read on and get to the part about Cornell’s status anxiety and Ithaca’s geographical advantages. To wit: “Thankfully, rocky gorges surrounding the campus continue to provide the sweet release of death for those Cornellians who just can’t take it anymore.”

But enough about suicide: following her venerable leader, Columbia advanced in the US News rankings. Yale and Dartmouth stayed the same. UPenn, Brown and Cornell all lost ground. The Liberal Arts Colleges are still unimportant.

Here’s how the Ivies fared:

1. Harvard (ranked 2nd in 2008)

2. Princeton (ranked 1st in 2008)

3. Yale (ranked 3rd in 2008)

6. Penn (ranked 5th in 2008)

8. Columbia (ranked 9th in 2008)

11. Dartmouth (ranked 11th in 2008)

14. Cornell (ranked 12th in 2008)

16. Brown (ranked 14th in 2008)

After the jump, Harvard tells you she’s embarrassed by all the attention.

In an email statement, Harvard spokesman John Longbrake said:

It is always nice to be recognized as one of the top universities. However, our admissions officers always tell prospective students that they should select a college or university that best suits their needs, not by its position in a ranking.

That’s just like Harvard, being all modest. Overrated? Not in my heart, Big H.

29 Responses to ““Most Overrated” University Overcomes Princeton in US News Rankings”

  1. athelas Says:

    It is sheer arrogance on the part of administrators who decry rankings to think that parents should spend $160,000 in tuition plus additional money for room and board but not have any way to compare colleges. And yet, of course, those same administrators have no problem with using numerical rankings to decide which students to admit.

  2. athelas Says:

    It is sheer arrogance on the part of administrators who decry rankings to think that parents should spend $160,000 in tuition plus additional money for room and board but not have any way to compare colleges. And yet, of course, those same administrators have no problem with using numerical rankings to decide which students to admit.

  3. Nevermore Says:

    First of all, parents don’t have to send their kids to college if they don’t want to, so don’t complain about the price tag. Second, colleges give prospective students ample means for comparison–free information sessions, tours, overnight stays, and so on. I imagine that colleges also would encourage students to read college guide books and other more objective resources. Colleges are not saying students shouldn’t be able to compare colleges. They’re saying that the US News rankings are a terrible way of doing so.

  4. Travis Says:

    Who writes the free information, who provides the information sessions, who does the tours, what do you see at overnight stays? ….I have participated in these. They are well coordinated sales efforts that are not very responsive to discordant ideas and participants whot do not support their messages.

  5. Nevermore Says:

    First of all, parents don’t have to send their kids to college if they don’t want to, so don’t complain about the price tag. Second, colleges give prospective students ample means for comparison–free information sessions, tours, overnight stays, and so on. I imagine that colleges also would encourage students to read college guide books and other more objective resources. Colleges are not saying students shouldn’t be able to compare colleges. They’re saying that the US News rankings are a terrible way of doing so.

  6. princeton09 Says:

    Wait, Harvard is a she?

  7. princeton09 Says:

    Wait, Harvard is a she?

  8. WilhelmtheYounger Says:

    @Nevermore
    but SAT scores provide a perfect snapshot of an individual’s potential? We all know that they are relied upon for their expedience, same with USNews.

  9. WilhelmtheYounger Says:

    @Nevermore
    but SAT scores provide a perfect snapshot of an individual’s potential? We all know that they are relied upon for their expedience, same with USNews.

  10. Nevermore Says:

    I’m not criticizing the US News rankings. I’m saying that a college can do so without also saying that students shouldn’t be able to compare schools. I agree with you that the rankings are a decent, though imperfect, snapshot.

  11. Nevermore Says:

    I’m not criticizing the US News rankings. I’m saying that a college can do so without also saying that students shouldn’t be able to compare schools. I agree with you that the rankings are a decent, though imperfect, snapshot.

  12. WilhelmtheYounger Says:

    sure, they can do so. and they’re probably right, most ranking systems are terribly flawed. It just seems a little disingenuous to hear such critiques coming from a harvard administrator when the school relies so heavily on flawed rankings for admissions, and has even built part of its reputation on the very system it disparages.

  13. WilhelmtheYounger Says:

    sure, they can do so. and they’re probably right, most ranking systems are terribly flawed. It just seems a little disingenuous to hear such critiques coming from a harvard administrator when the school relies so heavily on flawed rankings for admissions, and has even built part of its reputation on the very system it disparages.

  14. ivycanuck Says:

    Um, I know this is a stupid question, but is there a reason the illustration here is stolen from the CBC’s website? Didn’t you notice the subtle Canadian flag and piles of Canadian money? Are you trying to make an argument about the superiority of Canadian universities? Please explain.

  15. ivycanuck Says:

    Um, I know this is a stupid question, but is there a reason the illustration here is stolen from the CBC’s website? Didn’t you notice the subtle Canadian flag and piles of Canadian money? Are you trying to make an argument about the superiority of Canadian universities? Please explain.

  16. WilhelmtheYounger Says:

    I think, like all things Canadian, none of us were supposed to have noticed.

  17. WilhelmtheYounger Says:

    I think, like all things Canadian, none of us were supposed to have noticed.

  18. ivycanuck Says:

    Who let the troll in again?

  19. ivycanuck Says:

    Who let the troll in again?

  20. P10 Says:

    canuck, don’t be surprised when someone responds to your snark with more snark!

  21. P10 Says:

    canuck, don’t be surprised when someone responds to your snark with more snark!

  22. Y11 Says:

    It’s labor day. Me want IvyGate.

  23. Y11 Says:

    It’s labor day. Me want IvyGate.

  24. Dart11 Says:

    Owned by peer assessment again. If only it were a university…Oh Wait.

  25. Dart11 Says:

    Owned by peer assessment again. If only it were a university…Oh Wait.

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  29. supm Says:

    From what I’ve seen, Harvard is BY FAR the most overrated university.

    I’ve come across many Harvard students and a huge number just seem like people with average to slightly above average intelligence who just happened to be the biggest nerds on the planet (hence the top grades). Based on what they said and the way they acted, most of them didn’t exactly come across as genuinely highly intelligent.

    The lectures I’ve seen are also very underwhelming, with the pace often being slower than at many lower-ranked universities, and the material often being taught in a very elementary manner.

    And then there’s the fact that there are many, many universities with a significantly greater number of Nobel Prize winners, Abel Award winners, Academy Award winners, other prestigious award winners, citations in notable papers, top-ranked departments or professors, etc. than Harvard has.

    … Yet so many people continue to tout Harvard as being the absolute “best” university. Why?

    It’s down to crowd mentality: a very flawed human behavior that manifests itself in irrational beliefs.

    Ask the average fan why they think Harvard is the best. Chances are they can’t give you a specific reason other than something along the lines of “cuz every1 else dose lol”.

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