A small D.C.-based magazine that no longer publishes a regular print edition has arbitrarily decided that there are 16 public universities better than the University of Maryland, College Park this year.
It has likewise pulled 54 superior “national universities” out of a hat, and will now spend the next year or so hocking these findings to parents of high school seniors.
(UPDATE, Tues. 7:20 p.m.: It appears that there aren’t technically 54 superior universities, because UMD is in a three-way tie for 55th place.)
In another startling revelation, the “magazine” also broke the compelling news that Harvard, Princeton, and Yale universities are, like, totally the best schools in the country. Yale is third-best; Harvard and Princeton are (once again) tied for first place. College applicants, adjust your plans accordingly.
The rankings, which former university President Dan Mote once called “biased” and “bogus,” were released last night by some outfit called U.S. News & World Report. Campus Drive searched the rest of that site to get a feel for what kind of U.S. News they were World Reporting on — it’s pretty heavy stuff. Their front page includes “Health Buzz: ‘SpongeBob May Impair Kids’ Focus,” a dispatch from the same breaking news reporter who brought the world “Health Buzz: Half of Americans Consume a Daily Sugary Drink.” We should certainly defer to this publication’s judgment in matters academic.
It would certainly help U.S. News if we did: According to the Washington Post, the college rankings make up more than half of the publication’s annual web traffic, which is a pretty big deal when it’s the only way anyone can read most of your articles.
It could be worse though — the U.S. News ranking methodology could be like the one used in the Forbes College Rankings, in which 17.5 percent of a university’s score is based on teacher rankings on RateMyProfessors.com. On the Forbes list, the University of Maryland, College Park ranks 234th — behind schools like Wheeling Jesuit University (209th), which has a technology center named after an important fellow who once started a chapter of the Ku Klux Klan.
Maybe UMD needs to step it up. Maybe we should stop letting in men, like St. Mary’s College (Forbes #201) and Agnes Scott College (Forbes #203). Maybe we should get rid of structured majors completely, like the College of the Atlantic (Forbes #175), which gives out only degrees in “human ecology” and has 359 students.
Or maybe students should throw out the lists and just pick the college that’s right for them.