Historical US News rankings

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Discus: College Search and Selection: August 2004 Archive: Historical US News rankings
By Shyboy13 (Shyboy13) on Monday, July 19, 2004 - 08:19 pm: Edit

Anyone know of a site or book that lists historical US News rankings?

By Jase1348 (Jase1348) on Tuesday, July 20, 2004 - 12:29 am: Edit

i hope it is okay to post this link:


it has the top 50 from 1991 until 2001 i think.

By Alexandre (Alexandre) on Tuesday, July 20, 2004 - 01:18 am: Edit

In late 80s, before they started including ridiculous factors into the equation, Cal-Berkeley and Michigan-Ann Arbor were ranked in the top 10. But sales of the issue dropped and USNWR decided to add meaningless factors that would drop state universities out of the top 20 in order to improve sales. They succeeded.

By Kk19131 (Kk19131) on Tuesday, July 20, 2004 - 02:25 am: Edit

Jase1348: You're from philly? What school did you attend?

By Shyboy13 (Shyboy13) on Tuesday, July 20, 2004 - 12:34 pm: Edit

Alexandre, I think most people know in the back of their mind the true greatness of many public universities. Many just like to discount them for some seemingly unexplainable reason. I have heard very few good reasons on CC for the lack of respect of public universities. Although there are many public school haters on this site, think about how many actually seem intelligent in their arguments. Very, very few!

By Slipper2002 (Slipper2002) on Tuesday, July 20, 2004 - 02:49 pm: Edit

I totally agree, but the issue is selectivity. NO one doubts the engineering at michigan or the anthropology at Berkeley. Its just that 1) the experience is much less oriented towards UGs and 2) the selectivity is less. Other than that they ARE good.

By Slipper2002 (Slipper2002) on Tuesday, July 20, 2004 - 02:52 pm: Edit

this list kind of shows what a crapshoot USNEWS is: I mean how does hopkins go from 14 to 7 to 15 in three years, or Brown vary from 7 to 18.

By Bern700 (Bern700) on Tuesday, July 20, 2004 - 03:08 pm: Edit

How does caltech go from 9 in your year to 1st the next? Seriously USNWR rankings are such bs. If you actually take them seriously i feel sorry for you.

By Bern700 (Bern700) on Tuesday, July 20, 2004 - 03:09 pm: Edit

How does caltech go from 9th to 1st in one year? Seriously USNWR rankings are ••••••••...if you take them seriously i feel sorry for you

By Jonw222 (Jonw222) on Tuesday, July 20, 2004 - 03:11 pm: Edit

The short answer seems to be to sell magazines. Most of the faculty at these universities, which I feel is what's important, stays the same. People aren't going to buy a magazine to see the rankings stay the same. That's like the same team winning the SuperBowl every year. So they mix up the rankings to sell magazines by changing the criteria. So that's how Caltech goes from 9th to 1st in one year, Brown varying from 7 to 18, and Hopkins changing from 14 to 7.


By Shyboy13 (Shyboy13) on Tuesday, July 20, 2004 - 03:25 pm: Edit

Makes perfect sense to me. I dont remember who said this but I think it was a dean at Stanford or something (I really dont remember) but someone once commented on the unliklihood of the ranking of a university to fluctuate so greatly. Such true fluctuations would be almost impossible. Of course, the reason is to sell magazines. It works. I'll buy the new issue as soon as it comes out!

By Alexandre (Alexandre) on Tuesday, July 20, 2004 - 04:32 pm: Edit

But there is one true indicator, and that ranking has almost not changed in the last 15 years. That indicator is the "academic reputation" score. Harvard, MIT, Stanford, Yale and Princeton are always anywhere between #1 and #4. Cal, Cal Tech and Chicago are always between #5 and #9. Michigan, Johns Hopkins, Columbia, Cornell and Duke are always between #7 and #12. Etc... Those don't change because it is a pure ranking determined by people in the know. It is the only part of the USNWR that is accurate.

By Shyboy13 (Shyboy13) on Tuesday, July 20, 2004 - 04:50 pm: Edit

Alexandre, very true but as a side note did you know that many colleges were sending out "advertisements" to their peers in an attempt to raise these scores? In other words, they are using resources to raise the perception of college prestige in order to make their rankings higher. I guess the world is really beginning to take these rankings seriousely.

By 3togo (3togo) on Tuesday, July 20, 2004 - 05:08 pm: Edit

> this list kind of shows what a crapshoot USNEWS is: I mean how does hopkins go from 14 to 7 to 15 in three years, or Brown vary from 7 to 18.

I guess it depends on how you want to use the listing. If you desire a precise listing of the exact order of the 3000+ colleges and universities than any ranking system will be disappointing.

From my perspective on a scale of 3000 possibilities year-to-year rankings of 14-7-15 are VERY consistant and highlight that Hopkins is one of the top schools in the US.

A ranking that went 5-650-230 would make me totally reject the rankings.

For me the bigger issue with the USN rankings is the criteria themselves ... they provide consistant rankings but are they ranked in a meaningful way. For me the answer if that they provide one (of many) way to look at schools and they give good guidence but should not be taken too literally.

By Slipper2002 (Slipper2002) on Tuesday, July 20, 2004 - 05:30 pm: Edit

Even the academic score can be disputed for rewarding schools with strong grad programs like Michigan, Berkeley, Penn, and WUSTL while lowering much smaller UG focused schools such as Brown.

By Shyboy13 (Shyboy13) on Tuesday, July 20, 2004 - 05:57 pm: Edit

Slipper, the problem is that a school is the sum of its parts. That is Brown's problem if its academic reputation is lower than it theoretically could be if decided to ATTEMPT to become a world class leader in research/graduate school. (Brown is a great school dont get me wrong!). Same thing goes for these rinky dink liberal arts schools who are not even included in the rankings. Why should UCLA, Michigan, and Cal suffer because Brown doent put as much emphasis on its graduate programs. Yes, yes, I know that Brown is ranked higher than those schools but the point is that a school is not only undergrad. That is why liberal arts colleges, nomatter how selective, cannot compare to Brown, UCSD, or any other major research institution. Their focus is just too narrow.

By Mini (Mini) on Tuesday, July 20, 2004 - 05:58 pm: Edit

One of the reasons for the variations is precisely that much of this is based on peer rankings ("academic reputation") based on deans who, if they are doing their jobs, don't know diddlesquat about other institutions. They'd simply be too busy to know. And they know even less about the quality of undergraduate educations because what they know (the quality of faculty based on where they did their graduate work) has next to nothing to do with undergraduate quality.

What is likely is the peer rankings are "lagging indicators", reflections on what those same deans might have perceived (or been prejudiced by) when they themselves were undergraduates. (I know that if I were asked to rank schools about which I knew basically nothing, that's what I'd do.)

By Shyboy13 (Shyboy13) on Tuesday, July 20, 2004 - 06:06 pm: Edit

Mimi, thats not exactly correct. If a dean WAS doing his job correctly then he WOULD know about other schools.

By Alexandre (Alexandre) on Tuesday, July 20, 2004 - 06:23 pm: Edit

Mini, deans of universities are supposed to know what the competition is doing. I am an HR specialist. I know exactly what other companies are doing to recruit, train, develop, promote, reward and retain their talent. That is my job. Deans, presidents and administrators involved in the USNWR rankings are supposed to know what is going on in other universities in order to ensure their own university is not left behind.

Slipper, I don't get your point. WUSL has an academic reputation of 4.2. Brown and Dartmouth have academic reputations of 4.4. Michigan and Cal have reputations of 4.6 because of their commitment to undergraduate education.

And by the way, there is no such thing as graduate focused university. I took classes with some of the best professors in Michigan's arsenal, and without exception, they all knew me by name. I took a class that had 6 students and 2 professors at Michigan! Most of my classes after my Freshman year had under 40 students in them and all 43 courses I took at Michigan were taught by Professors. The notion that TAs teach undergrads at research universities is a myth, because I have never heard of such classes at Cornell, Michigan, Stanford or MIT.

By Shyboy13 (Shyboy13) on Tuesday, July 20, 2004 - 07:09 pm: Edit

You know what Alexandre, I was wondering about that TA myth myself. I went to UCLA and everyone seems to think that UCLA is the guiltiest of all in that regard. I have never even heard of a class that was taught by a TA. Now, certain classes have a TA component in which a small class (usually < 20 students) is taught by a TA but this is in addition to the normal lecture. The one I think is the funniest is that public universitiy classes are 1,500 students AND taught by a TA. Is it even possible to fit 1,500 students inside a classroom or lecture hall?

By Barrons (Barrons) on Tuesday, July 20, 2004 - 07:52 pm: Edit

A better question today might be how many classes are taught by adjuncts. That seems to be the growth area for state and many private universities.

By Jase1348 (Jase1348) on Tuesday, July 20, 2004 - 08:27 pm: Edit


I went to Harriton.
It's the other high school in Lower Merion township.

Where did you go?

I hate Penn with a passion too.

By Gnatcire (Gnatcire) on Tuesday, July 20, 2004 - 08:50 pm: Edit

Alexandre - just FYI, my friend at Stanford had a class taught by a TA winter quarter. The same happened to my friend at Duke. Also, often TA's run labs for intro to science classes, EW{h is hardly ever true at any LAC.

By Subtrunks (Subtrunks) on Tuesday, July 20, 2004 - 08:54 pm: Edit

Shyboy you are correct the "rinky dink" LAC's can not compare to the resources of a Univeristy but if you are an undergrad and want focused attention an LAC is best for you. The enviroment fosters less competition and encourages more interaction with professors. Univeristies are not bad and the myth that talks about classes that are 1000+ is ridiculous. Like it has been said great universities are great research insitutions. LAC's are learning instituions that let their students choose which path they want to choose after their BA/BS. For the most part the ppl that go on this board are interested in their UG degrees so I would say an LAC, Brown, Dartmouth, and Caltech are more apropriate. For grad school then the above listed with the exception of Caltech aren't great. Thats when the true colors of schools like Mich and Cal come out. They have several top ranking graduate programs across the board.

If there is any solution Universities should have two rankings. One based solely on their undergraduate data. In this ranking LAC's and schools like Brown will benifit. Then in the second set of rankings individual programs will be evaluated. Thus excluding LAC's and alot of Brown for that matter. It seems fair to look at things that way.

By Chrisy (Chrisy) on Wednesday, July 21, 2004 - 01:06 am: Edit

is there a compilation list for lacs?

By Interesteddad (Interesteddad) on Wednesday, July 21, 2004 - 01:18 am: Edit


The USNEWS annual college rankings list undergrad-only LACs in a separate table. As long as you don't pay much attention to small differences in rankings, it's a very handy resource.

I actually think the LAC list is more useful than the university list. I have trouble with any comparison between a university the size of UMich and a smaller place like Brown or Vandy.

For the most part, the LACs are similar in size (1500 to 2500 undergrads). Most of the schools on the LAC are pretty directly comparable.

By Chrisy (Chrisy) on Wednesday, July 21, 2004 - 12:41 pm: Edit

i know there is a ranking for lacs but is there a link to ranking from the past decade. is there a "historical" one? like the one above on doctoral schools.

By Dave72 (Dave72) on Wednesday, July 21, 2004 - 01:35 pm: Edit

Alexandre, you're simply wrong about TAs not teaching courses at universities. I was a grad student at Cornell and taught freshman courses for three years. Almost all of the freshman seminars at Cornell are taught by TAs. It's NOT a myth!

By the way, most of my students of my freshman students told me I was the only one of their teachers who knew their name. Most of their other courses were huge, impersonal lecture courses which allowed no sustained contact between teacher and students. Of course there are exceptions, but for me this exemplified why (in my opinion) LACs offer a much healthier model of undergraduate education than large research universities, even Ivy League-caliber.

By Slipper2002 (Slipper2002) on Wednesday, July 21, 2004 - 04:03 pm: Edit

That is exactly why places like Dartmouth and Brown get the shaft. They have lower overall "academic scores", yet in some ways are more like LACs in their UG focus. For those reasons they are a great balance. And most students who do well at these schools end up having great relationships with profs, etc, which pays in getting to grad school.

By Alexandre (Alexandre) on Wednesday, July 21, 2004 - 05:18 pm: Edit

Seminars are not lectures are they? A seminar or discussion group is often led by a TA, no matter what the university. But those are only part of the course. The bulk of the course and information is delivered by the Professor to the student in a lecture hall(admitedly large at the 101 level/Freshman level) and then, the class is divided into smaller discussion groups and those are indeed led by TAs.

And I never said professors who taught me my Freshman year knew me by name. I said that the big shot, heavy hitting professors who tought me my Junior and Senior years all knew me by name.

I will not get into the debate of the LAC vs Research university because it is pointless. There are benefits to both and disaventages to both. I personally think they cancel each other out in the end and a person is best served going for their best "fit".

By Slipper2002 (Slipper2002) on Wednesday, July 21, 2004 - 05:25 pm: Edit

Yes but at a smaller school the seminar IS the class. Or if there happens to be the rare bigger class, the professors still teach the seminars in smaller groups!

By Fuzzzylogicc (Fuzzzylogicc) on Wednesday, July 21, 2004 - 10:15 pm: Edit

"In late 80s, before they started including ridiculous factors into the equation, Cal-Berkeley and Michigan-Ann Arbor were ranked in the top 10. But sales of the issue dropped and USNWR decided to add meaningless factors that would drop state universities out of the top 20 in order to improve sales. They succeeded."

I don't understand how dropping state U's out of the top 20 would improve sales. Wouldn't a high ranking for LARGE universities increase sales? THe largest schools have the most applicants, the most alumni. US News seems to understand this - that's why in California the newstand copies feature stickers on the cover luring readers with word that UCLA, Berkeley are included inside!

By Alexandre (Alexandre) on Thursday, July 22, 2004 - 12:39 am: Edit

Fuzzylogicc, it has to do with numbers. The bulk of Americans live on the East Coast, where the great NE LACs and the Ivy League reign supreme. Who would you rather impress: the 5 million alumns who attend the top 10 state universities or the 60 million people who live in New England, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Maryland? About 50% of the College rankings are purchased in those states. The only major state where the USNWR does not do well in is California and Stanford and Cal have done a good job trying to discredit the ranking.

But at least the academic reputation rating is still accurate.

By Ariesathena (Ariesathena) on Thursday, July 22, 2004 - 12:53 am: Edit

Alex: You are incorrect about schools not swapping places. A few years back, Caltech was ranked at #1 - and then USNews changed the way that they rank so as to have Harvard, yale, and Princeton come out on top.

By Alexandre (Alexandre) on Thursday, July 22, 2004 - 01:28 am: Edit

Euh...I never said they did not swap places. I said the only constant in the USNWR is the academic reputation rating. In that regard, most schools have been pretty constant. I know that there are wild fluctuations intended to keep Harvard, Princeton and Yale as the top 3. I wrote that in the post above. But the academic reputation rating has remained pretty constant. Call tech is always between #4 and #8 according to that rating.

By Kk19131 (Kk19131) on Thursday, July 22, 2004 - 01:31 am: Edit

How in the world can Caltech ever be number 1? I know it's a good school and all, but it is a largely tech school, lacking much of anything else outside of science and technology; it has one department called "Social Science" for goodness sake.

By Interesteddad (Interesteddad) on Thursday, July 22, 2004 - 02:29 am: Edit

>> i know there is a ranking for lacs but is there a link to ranking from the past decade. is there a "historical" one? like the one above on doctoral schools.

I'm sure that you could go back and research it, but it would be a waste of time. I don't see anything on the current list that would have changed in any significant way in the last 25 years. Williams, Swarthmore, and Amherst have swapped the top position back and forth, but only because of arcane changes in the "ranking" formula. The all-womens colleges have dropped a bit, but only because their acceptance rates have increased with reduced demand for single-sex colleges -- not because the high-quality of their academics has declined.

I wouldn't pay any attention to small differences in rankings. Number 3 versus number 6? So what? Number 3 versus number 40? That's probably significant and valid.

The USNEWS tables are useful only as a ROUGH guide, with the peer reputation and selectivity ranks being of most interest.

By Ivyleaguer (Ivyleaguer) on Monday, July 26, 2004 - 03:43 pm: Edit

I notice a lot of you are talking about the "useless" critera that U.S news uses to rank universities. I am curious what criteria would you guys exclude from the ranking. My choices would be alumni giving rank and rate. These don't tell you how happy an alumnus is with his/her university. For instance I would love to give to my Alma Maters but I'm just poor. If you excluded this then public universities like Berekley and umichigan would jump on the ranking and so would Columbia, cornell and john hopkins.

By Alexandre (Alexandre) on Monday, July 26, 2004 - 05:17 pm: Edit

I would drop several criteria. Clearly, the alumni donation rate. This totally favors small universities because it is easier to contact a large segment of their alums. Can you imagine Michigan or UCLA trying to contact all 500,000 living alums? That alone would place Cal back in the top 10 and Michigan in the top 15. I would also remove financial resources because this favours private universities. Why should a state university, which is already dirt cheap to over 65% of its students offer as much in aid as a private university? To 70% of Michigan's students and 90% of Cal's students, the tuition and room & board combined is roughly $17,000/year. Harvard costs $41,000. Obviously, Harvard will have to give out significantly more.

If you remove those two useless and biased criteria, Cal ascends to #7 and Michigan to #10. The only two criteria that really count are academic reputation and quality of student body (not selectivity mind you). I would change the selectivity rank to quality of student body rank. For example, Chicago and Columbia have the same quality of students, but Columbia gets a larger applicant pool because it is more popular. As a result, Columbia's acceptance rate is 10% and Chicago's is 40%!!! But the mean SAT score, percent who graduated in the top 10% of their high school class and mean GPA of the class entering the two schools are pretty much identical.

So I am in favor of a system where 75% is given to the academic reputation of the school and 25% is given to the quality of the student body.

According to such a system, the top 10 schools would be, in roughly that order:

#1 Harvard, Princeton and MIT
#4 Stanford
#5 Yale
#6 Cal Tech
#7 Cal-Berkeley
#8 Chicago
#9 Columbia
#10 Cornell, Michigan and Johns Hopkins

By Kk19131 (Kk19131) on Monday, July 26, 2004 - 05:59 pm: Edit

I see you found a way to slide Cornell and Michigan in, like always.

By Alexandre (Alexandre) on Tuesday, July 27, 2004 - 02:29 am: Edit

Of course! hehe. Actually, you can look at it yourself. Open your USNWR magazine and study the matter. If you remove Alumni giving rate and financial aid donations, the top 10 will look very much like the list above.

By Blaineko (Blaineko) on Tuesday, July 27, 2004 - 03:04 pm: Edit


75% for reputation? 25% for quality of the student body, which raises or lowers a schools reputation over time?

I would reverse it (and raise the second, lower the first above), then add back the faculty ranking (part of the reputation score in that it influences the schools overall rep), class size, and actual spending per undergraduate student before public or private subsidy, including average student loan totals for 4 years.

Reputation is just that. It is based on a partucular view coming from a particular sub-set. Like steretypes, often reputational scores rely on one knowing a particular name, whether through academics, programs, sports teams and the like. That is the problem of the USNEWS ranking.

Of course the rankings will stay relatively stable. More people have heard buzz about Williams than Centre College. More people have heard about Cornell than Case Western. There are schools that have better student indicators that are ranked lower than some of the Ivy's that do not have such student stats.

USNEWS is an okay reference because it lists the majority of schools in the US in a few pages, rather than a thick guide. So kids are not flipping back and forth to compare schools. Gets even lazy people, like me (when it comes to building spreadsheets), to do some cursory comparo's.

What I don't like is that they seem to imply that there is a hiearchy to education in America...which leads me to think that there could be an educational aristocracy in picking and choosing students (crowning them) and shuttling the best and the brightest to particular schools at the top of the lists, without taking into consideration school that might be a better fit, that maybe in the lower 'top-tier', 'second-tier', etc...

Just my 2 cents.

By Cloud1234 (Cloud1234) on Tuesday, July 27, 2004 - 08:12 pm: Edit

I think USNEW's ranking method is well justified.

It takes many factors into account and weighs them differently according to a reasonable ratio.

I personally don't see any overrated or underrated schools on the list. If the school is at a certain position, there must be a reason behind it.

By Bicoastal (Bicoastal) on Tuesday, August 03, 2004 - 01:17 am: Edit


By Irock1ce (Irock1ce) on Tuesday, August 03, 2004 - 01:41 am: Edit

so Cloud1234.. Penn is the same level as Stanford and like 15 spots better than Cal-Berkeley?... Any non-crack smoking person who doesnt attend Penn would tell you Berkeley would crush Penn in nearly any department (other than business).

By Slipper2002 (Slipper2002) on Tuesday, August 03, 2004 - 03:49 pm: Edit

Michigan is not selective enough to be better than half the Ivies.

By Alexandre (Alexandre) on Tuesday, August 03, 2004 - 04:06 pm: Edit

Slipper, you are wrong on this one, as are many people who never take the time to study universities. Selectivity is not a measure of academic excellence. Chicago and Johns Hopkins not nearly as selective as Rice or Washington University and yet they are significantly better academically. Cooper Union is the 6th most selective university in the country, but nobody will claim that it is one of the top 50 universities in America.

Curriculum, quality of the faculty and academic atmosphere are the key ingredients to academic excellence.

Of course, if your student body is not accomplished or capable, you have a problem. But Michigan is the 24th most selective university in America according to the US News and World Report. Its admission standards are described as "most selective" by the USNWR.

The average SAT score for the schools or Arts and Sciences and Engineering is 1360. The mean unweighed GPA of the entering class in those two colleges is 3.9 and over 90% of the students entering those two schools graduated ranked in the top 10% of their high school class. The Fiske guide rates Michigan a ***** academic institution, and states that overlaps for Michigan students are Duke, Penn, Cornell and Northwestern. The quality of the student body at Michigan is certainly not a problem.

As an academic institution, undergraduate or otherwise, Michigan is one of the top 10 universites in the nation. It has been so for over a century and it will remain that way for a long time.

By Blaineko (Blaineko) on Tuesday, August 03, 2004 - 04:23 pm: Edit


The rankings do not use curriculum or academic atmosphere. If that were the case, other schools would 'beat' UMichigan and other state schools. Likewise, a stellar faculty that does not teach or rarly teaches undergrads is not always indicative of being a good undergraduate institution.

Sorry Alexandre...I agree with Slipper.

While UMichigan has a good reputation, it's reputation rests on research and with it's graduate schools (which affect how others see undergraduate programs, with the assumtion that undergrads always benefit, which they sometimes do not).

You then use selectivity (which you said was not a function of reputation) to say that UMichigan is one of the best schools. That seems a bit odd.

That is not to say that you cannot get a great education at large public schools. It's just that you would have to be the type of student who PREFERS larger class size and is unafraid of a certain amount of red-tape. Rice University is much smaller than UMichigan for example, so it might be better for someone who likes a mid-sized college or university.

Selectivity and Reputation, for better or worse, are still considered by many as marks of excellence. At the same time, there is no single reliable 10-best lists, as that would ignore differences in applicants or their personalities (or goals), and many other schools that may provide a 'better' education than those so marked. Seems muddled that you use some of the 'measures' that others use to say that UMichigan is 'better' than other public and private universities, then argue with them for using the same.

Yes, UMichigan, along with UVA, UC-Berkeley, UNC, UCLA, William & Mary, UW-Madison, are very good schools. But, they are not for everyone. Thus, they can be, depending on needs, higher or lower on a kids list of schools.

A mis-appropreated hierarchy of schools, that's what rankings should be called. If we were all the same with respect to what we wanted out of a college education, then we would be less concered with status, and more concerned with fit.

Just my opinion. :)

PS--Sometimes smaller private universities have better aid pacakges that makes state schools less attractive.

PPS--Like Ivies, some of UMichigan's reputation for being the best is due to having been established longer than other universities. I'm sure you are not suggesting that colleges or universities, like Reed in Oregon or Brandeis in Massachussetts, because of their relatively young age cannot be as good as schools that have been around longer. Or, that colleges and school are better for concentrating primarily on research and graduate education.

By Alexandre (Alexandre) on Tuesday, August 03, 2004 - 04:44 pm: Edit

Blaineko, you are entitled to your opinion. I certainly respect it. I believe that a student can learn as much at home or in the Library of congress as that student can learn at the best university on Earth. I am not talking about ranking the quality of an education. Nobody is qualified to rank universities according to quality of instruction since every individual has a different drive and a different learning style. As you so aptly point out, what may be ideal for one student may be inadequate for another. I am talking about the quality of the university itself.

And I never said that selectivity was important. I was saying that a lack of selectivity can be a hinderance, but Michigan does not lack selectivity.

I also disagree with your statement that other schools have a better learning environment than Michigan. I challenge you to find a town that is more academically and intellectually inclined than Ann Arbor.

By the way, your assertion that known faculty at major universities do not interact with students is wrong. while at Michigan, I took classes with porfessors known around the world. Dozens of them. Professors like Raymond Tanter, John Holland, Kenneth Lieberthal, Hal Varian, Jan Kmenta etc... They all taught undergrads in classes with fewer than 40 students and they knew all of us by name. Those guys brought their research with them to the class. They allowed students to partake in their research. They gave us jobs to wrok by their side. I don't know which university you are talking about. But at Michigan, research is done to aid undergraduate education, not to hinder it.

At any rate, Blaineko, this debate is pointless. You obviously have your opinion, and I have mine. Luckily for me, for now, academe and the corporate world agrees with me.

PS: I never compare LACs to research universities. They offer entirely systems. Both have flaws and both have strengths.

By Blaineko (Blaineko) on Tuesday, August 03, 2004 - 05:13 pm: Edit


But you do compare private schools with much smaller enrollement with large schools, as if the education would be the same.

The most educated cities would be Seattle, San Fanscisco, and Research Triangle. Thus, the 'best' city and school would be UWashington, UC-Berkeley, and UNC-Chapel Hill given your criteria. Also Iowa City, Boston, New York, Austin, Burlington, Chicago, Portland, Twin Cities, etc...can be seen as college friendly cities.

The debate is not pointless because you did state that UMichigan was one of the '10 Best' (and in numerous other posts). It is germain because making such statments lends itself to misperceptions by applicants that some schools (UMichigan in this case) FIT all.

It just seems like you're marketing Michigan, at the expense of other Big 12 schools--the majority of which are great universities too. Nevermind, smaller private and public universities.

I do have friends at UMichigan who talk about having huge classes, face competition with grad students to do research as undergrads, find TA's teaching discussion sections, and few office hours for 'star' faculty. In addition, they speak of not being able to play a sport, unless it is intramurals, because competition is fierce. Likewise, my pre-med friends often talk about sabotage of projects and experiements. To a certain degree this is true of other universities, but amongst my friends who go the public university route, UMichigan seems a little bit more prone to it.

So, it is RELAVENT to the discussion of what 'best' is. You used the term, I did not. And 'university' and 'college' do not always apply consistently between NUs and NLACs.

I just want to make sure that others are aware that no one school or group of ten schools is 'best' for everyone. I'm not looking for an arguement.

Again, just my 2 cents. :)

By Alexandre (Alexandre) on Tuesday, August 03, 2004 - 05:32 pm: Edit

Blaineko, I have friends who attended Harvard, Stanford, MIT, Northerstern, Columbia, Case Western, Carnegie Mellon, Duke, Cal-Berkeley, Penn and Princeton. Without exception, they all had huge classes, TAs teaching them, competition gone sour, primadona professors etc...

Anyway like I said, this debate is pointless. You have your opinion about Michigan and it is grounded on what you have been told, not on what you have experienced. Thankfully, your disrepect of one of the great universities has no impact on my life. To the recruiters at the most exclusive Investment Banks (Lehman Brothers and Goldman Sachs) and the admissions committees of elite programs such as Kellogg, Columbia (Econ PhD program) and Cornell (school of ILR), my Michigan degree was so respected that my 3.4 GPA was considered good enough for them.

I also don't recall saying that all my top 10 universities were perefect for everybody. Again, you are assuming too much.

And by the way, Michigan does not belong to the Big 12. I think you are confusing conferences. Michigan belongs to the Big 10 and the CIC (the Big 10 academic consortium which includes all 11 Big 10 universities and the University of Chicago). The CIC has 3 universities that stand out for their academic reputation and prestige. They are all about equal albeit somehwat different in that regard. Chicago, Michigan and Northwestern.

Wisconsin and Illinois are not as quite as good but they are certainly not far behind and still belong to the top 25 or top 30 among research universities. The remaining CIC universities are all very good but not great.

By Blaineko (Blaineko) on Tuesday, August 03, 2004 - 06:30 pm: Edit

Sorry...Big Ten.

>>>>I have friends who attended Harvard, Stanford, MIT, Northerstern, Columbia, Case Western, Carnegie Mellon, Duke, Cal-Berkeley, Penn and Princeton. Without exception, they all had huge classes, TAs teaching them, competition gone sour, primadona professors etc...

As do I.

>>>I also don't recall saying that all my top 10 universities were perefect for everybody. Again, you are assuming too much.>>>

Check your previous posts, not assuming much.

>>>>You have your opinion about Michigan and it is grounded on what you have been told, not on what you have experienced.<<<<

Acutally, I do have a brother-inlaw who taught at UMichigan. And, a cousin who went to school there also. And I have taken summer school classes at UMichigan and a few other places. But, I do not assume my summer experience was indicative of the school year. How, again, is YOUR experiences more valid than mine? I never said UMichigan was bad, just that it was NOT right for everyone.

In many ways, other Big 10 schools, are just as good as UMichigan, but you downgrade them using selctive critieria that YOU decide on. Then argue that you are being even-handed, nevermind that you attended.

For grad-school, I don't have a problem with UMichigan, as it is where it built it's reputation. So my opinion does not impact your grad-school experience. I do take exception to the '10 best' label (although I understand it is also an opinion), because you are making judgements about schools on the UNDERGRADUATE level about UMichigan, AND other schools which compete for the same types of students, even if you did attend Cornell as an undergad.

You would not, by your reasoning, be able to judge other schools besides Cornell for undergrad, and UMichigan for grad-school. But, yet you do. Wow.

Talk about selective application of a rule.

That is what I am talking about. If you want to help, try not to say '10 Best' as it IMPLIES a hierarchy in education. For many kids, who are being pushed by parents, such compartmentalizing is detremental to the notion of FIT. We're already bombarded with enough messages that make status often times more important than being true to ourselves.

You know that such marketing of status affects to a certain extent demand. Thus, the treadmill in admissions, is driven by status, which drives admissions, which drives status. It's great for kids whose families are wealthy, but for most 'normal' kids, status muddles the educational picture, as to what schools would be a fit when '10 best' lists are forwarded. It does sell magazines and perpetuate 'status' of those schools, nevermind that people can get just as good an education at other places.

Look at your earlier posts. Try and see how an impressionable high school kid would view your statements. Yes, we have our own mind, but we also can be status conscious because it seems that what our parents and adults stress. We get sucked in and snowed too.

I agree that UMichigan is a great school (as I have recommended it here on CC), but not to the exclusion of others.

Just my 2 cents.

PS--You give good advice usually on CC. I agree with you most of the time, so don't take this personally. It isn't meant that way.

By Blaineko (Blaineko) on Tuesday, August 03, 2004 - 06:41 pm: Edit


This is why rankings blow.

Rather than celebrate choice and fit, we end up with lists that in some form or another trump status, or the status quo. Yeah, it's about the label.

Wow. Dont mind Alexandre or me. :)

By Alexandre (Alexandre) on Tuesday, August 03, 2004 - 07:08 pm: Edit

Actually Blaineko, you and I agree on the main issue. You cannot rank quality of education. It is a question of personal fit. Obviously, elite universities with incredible resources, be it Carleton or Grinnell, Michigan or Cal, Chicago or Rice all over unlimited resources as far as undergrads are concerned. What the undergraduate student needs to do is iditify which styles suits her/him best. Reputationally, all of those are pretty much on even ground. But to you and I, they are worlds apart.

One way in which we differ is with regards to the rankings of academic departments. I don't think rankings blow because they tell you how good the various departments are. Nobody can deny that Cal is better in Chemistry than Georgetown or that Chicago is better in Economics than Vanderbilt. But the problem with rankings is that students and parents tend to interpret them in terms of absolutes rather than a cold facts. The bottom line is simple. A student cannot exhaust the resources of a top ranked department. An undergraduate student is learning the basics and that can be accomplished just as well, whehter the student is studying at a solid little department or in a world class facilty.

In short, a ranking can never measure the effectiveness of imparting knowledge at the various institutions.

By Blaineko (Blaineko) on Tuesday, August 03, 2004 - 07:25 pm: Edit

Rankings do blow in the sense that most do not look at specific departments when drawing up undergraduate college/university lists.

Also, since departments often are ranked by production & research, small schools generally are less 'reputable'. Thus, it is rare to have say an NLAC in a 'top-25' rank of a department.

B-school, Law school, Med-school, etc...are more numbers driven, although they still look at their applicants intangables (sp?). I tend to think that research & production, as well as faculty do come into play because the training is often specific to a particular career path. Weird, but I reverse my stance when taking about grad-schools.

Anyway, it just depends on what a persons plans are about undergrad and grad school. If going to undergrad, rankings are less important, when contemplating grad school, rankings are more important.

Again, just my opinion. :)

By Alexandre (Alexandre) on Tuesday, August 03, 2004 - 07:57 pm: Edit

You write very well Blainko and I wish you all the best in your endeavors. I will take your comments above with the spirit intended. I realize that some students on this forum may find my words influential, and I will try to remain as neutral as possible. I try to give lists that are all-encompassing, usually including LACs, sate schools and private research universities to make sure that a student can research on her/his own and take it from there, regardless of their personal style, needs or preference. But I also realize that I have a weak spot for Michigan! I am only human you know? hehe

I expect great things from you in the future, so don't go disapointing me. I actually picture you busting some professor chops at Oberlin, Bowdoin, Haverford, Amherst, Davidson or Grinnell. Perhaps because those are my favorite LACs and you seem to favor LACs.

Best of luck to you and keep me in line whenever I should depart from the path or righteousness!

Anyway, it is 4:00 AM over here. I best be hitting the sac!

PS: I took about 8 graduate level courses in History and Economics while at Michigan and I was a TA in 4 classes while at Cornell.

I never took classes at other Big 10 schools, but I certainly respect the Big 10 a great deal...Wisconsin is one of my favourite schools on earth. I love Madison. Iowa is a hidden gem. Indiana is gorgeous, inside and out. Illinois is the best Engineering and Sciences university in the Midwest, and that's saying a lot. Purdue has a great school of Engineering too. Minnesota is good in almost every field imaginable. I even respect Ohio State and Michigan State...hehe (evil chuckle!)

By Blaineko (Blaineko) on Tuesday, August 03, 2004 - 09:05 pm: Edit


I like the The Big Ten schools too. I'm just more of a NLAC guy. While I am usually assertive, I prefer the feel of the LACs, though there are some universities that I like that are on the small side at least with their undergraduate enrollement. I do like UWisconsin's ILS and Honors programs, as well as UMichigan's Honors college.

I did have a lot of fun at the summer and term-time programs at Howard, UMichigan, Grinnell, UHawaii, and a couple of others. UMichigan was especially fun, as the weather and the people were amazing.

Thanks for the best wishes; hopefully, my apps will find favor with the ad-coms.

Have a great night. :)

PS--Are you in Western Europe? Time zones--hate trying to figure them out. I have a good friend in Italy and I can never get it right. Heh, heh. So much for advanced math, huh?!

By Alexandre (Alexandre) on Wednesday, August 04, 2004 - 02:40 am: Edit

Actually Blaineko, I live further East than Western Europe. I live in a city called Dubai in the United Arab Emirates on the Arabian/Perisan Gulf. I am 8 hours ahead of the East Coast (9 hours in Winter since we don't adjust our clocks)and 11 hours ahead of the West coast (12 hours in winter).

At any rate, let us know your list of schools sometime so that we can rip you to shreds! hehe

By Collegehelper (Collegehelper) on Wednesday, August 04, 2004 - 01:00 pm: Edit

Dubai is a nice place. Ever go to the Bourj al Arab. Truly an uncomparable place.

By Blaineko (Blaineko) on Wednesday, August 04, 2004 - 03:33 pm: Edit


Kewl! :)

As for my school choices....

Amherst (ED)
Conn C.
The Evergreen State College
Case Western

I know it's a strange list. A few schools appear and disappear (UWisconsin, W&M, UMichigan, UNC) from the list because of size (i.e. I think I can handle it or not; depends on the day). Yale is on my list (my parents keep pushing) but I am not too hot on it. Oh well.


By Alexandre (Alexandre) on Wednesday, August 04, 2004 - 04:08 pm: Edit

Great list. You obviously need to narrow it down a little. Grinnell, Middlebury, Amherst, Oberlin and Haverford are my favorite LACs. I see 4 of the 5 are on your list. Good luck and keep us posted as to where you will be applying.

By Blaineko (Blaineko) on Wednesday, August 04, 2004 - 05:16 pm: Edit


Tell me about it.

There are a few 2-3 that are about to slip-off my short list for various reasons.

Vassar is an almost definate causalty due to it's indifference to applicants on the phone and during visits. The people were a little stand-offish. My tour group noticed it, and my friends parents noticed it at two infomation sessions held for Vassar applicants. Also, I've had contact three times in the course of the past 5 months with the admissions office, and they have been helpful but a little uninterested or aloof. It could be me, though. It's just that all the other schools, even the larger universities, have be kind, helpful and friendly. Hopefully for Vassar, it was just a bad day. I have a Vassar representative that I'm meeting in October, so it still has an outside shot at staying on my list, but I'm doubtful.

Vanderbilt and Williams are the other two schools. It is more due to the lack of a Dance major or minor than how they stack-up as schools. I like them both, but for practical reasons, their days are numbered, unless I can create a major or minor in dance.

Reed might be an extra one, as they do not guarentee to meet need (they do for ED applicants). Again, the college's possible elimination from my list does not mean that it is not a good school, but rather that finances do matter in college admissions.

BTW, I like Oberlin too, but the school, like Bates and some others, seem a little focused on what car my parents and I drive, etc...when asking for financial information. Seems intrusive, unless someone is financing an expensive automobile or SUV.

I usually do not mind, but I drive an old BMW for instance, which is increasing in value. It is very old, and I did the restoration work myself through out high school. I bought it for $500, but it is now worth, according to the SMC, between $8900 and $12500. I put sweat equity into it, and worked extra hours to make it drivable. I do not think that I could part with it. All of the schools on my list do not ask for this information. Indeed, Bates and Oberlin (of the schools I looked at before making my list) were the only ones that asked for more than what is on the PROFILE.

I know it seems silly, but I've had the car since before I could drive (15). If it meant giving the car up as payment for a college education then I would do it. But, since there are many good colleges out there that would not ask that, I feel more secure with leaving Oberlin (and Bates) off my lit. Crazy, I know. Shoot me. :)

Have a great evening.

By Barrons (Barrons) on Wednesday, August 04, 2004 - 11:55 pm: Edit

early style 2002tii??

By Blaineko (Blaineko) on Thursday, August 05, 2004 - 01:21 am: Edit

nope...3.0 CSI. :)

By Alexandre (Alexandre) on Thursday, August 05, 2004 - 01:29 am: Edit

Nothing like German Engineering eh? Great car Blaineko.

By the way, isn't Sarah Lawrence good in Dance? I know it is a pretty good LAC and should be a safety given your credentials.

I dated a dance major from Sarah Lawrence back in the day and ooooooohhhhhh my Gawd! LOL She was gorgeous. Anyway, judging by the way she did things, I would say that their dance program is pretty good! hehe

By Blaineko (Blaineko) on Thursday, August 05, 2004 - 01:42 am: Edit

LOL. :)

Amazing car, even though it is older.

I did look at Sarah Lawrence, but the male/female ratio is skewed. Good odds for an guy, though. But, that's true for me in Dance as well.

Must be all those stretching exercises. It helps when rowing, swiming, rock climbing, biking too. :)

By Alexandre (Alexandre) on Thursday, August 05, 2004 - 01:51 am: Edit

I just checked the M:F ratio at Sarah Lawrence. What's wrong with it? Three women to each man. I love that ratio! LOL

Anyhoo, drive carefully and keep us posted on the schools you eventually apply to.

By Blaineko (Blaineko) on Thursday, August 05, 2004 - 02:00 am: Edit

Would be way too distracting. :)

I'll try. And, I'll keep you posted about my possible schools.

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