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Every September, U.S. News & World Report publishes an issue which attempts to measure academic excellence at U.S. colleges and universities and to rank them accordingly.  However, to quote The Washington Monthly,

What U.S. News does to arrive at its results involves gauging things like average faculty salaries, for instance, or the level of praise for one college from the presidents of other colleges. Maybe that's not totally useless, but it's also a bit like assessing the quality of restaurants based on how much they spend on linen.... We believe that what colleges do matters not just to prospective applicants, but also to the rest of us. After all, America depends on its institutions of higher education for a variety of crucial public tasks: conducting the cutting-edge research that drives the economy; offering students from low-income families a path to a better life; and positively shaping the characters of the young people who will go on to lead the country. Government provides colleges and universities with billions of dollars in research grants, tax benefits, and student financial aid to achieve these goals. If parents and teachers deserve to know how well colleges are spending their tuition dollars, shouldn't average citizens also have a way of finding out how well schools are spending their tax dollars?

My rationale for including The Washington Monthly's alternative rankings is a belief that education – for one's children or oneself – shouldn't be an impulse purchase.  Just as most people would never buy a house or a car without doing a lot of comparison shopping and research, so it should be with higher education. 

But to make an important decision, one needs useful facts and (unfortunately) much of the information widely available to the public is not all that useful – assuming a quality education is what you're looking for rather than prestige or other criteria unrelated to the type and quality of education your children or you actually receive.


The Washington Monthly's College Guide 2012

The Washington Monthly's College Guide 2011

The Washington Monthly's College Guide 2010

The Washington Monthly's College Guide 2009

The Washington Monthly's College Guide 2007


Also, below are links to a number of articles aimed at those attending or about to attend college and their parents.  They're from the November 2003, 2004, and 2005 issues of The Atlantic Monthly (one of the oldest and most respected magazines in the country, founded in 1857).


The Atlantic Monthly’s College 2005 section

The Atlantic Monthly’s College 2004 section

The Atlantic Monthly’s College 2003 section

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Last Modified 1/12/2016
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