Best colleges for the nation

Washington Monthly’s college guide ranks schools by how good they are for the country: “how well it performs as an engine of social mobility (ideally helping the poor to get rich rather than the very rich to get very, very rich), how well it does in fostering scientific and humanistic research, and how well it promotes an ethic of service to country.” MIT and Berkeley top the Monthly’s rankings, and Penn State and Texas A&M do very well; Princeton plummets.

Also in the new issue, Rachel Morris writes about the wave of novels about college admissions, the modern route to social status and advancement. Kevin Carey analyzes attempts to determine how much students are learning at various colleges and universities.

Why am I blogging instead of enjoying my honeymoon in Switzerland, you ask. It’s been raining for four days; the forecast calls for two more days of rain before we move up to “cloudy.” I am looking forward to cloudy.

Update: We’re in Lucerne, the sun is shining, there are actual patches of blue sky and my guest bloggers are blogging. I’ll be back in 10 days or more.

— Joanne

About Joanne


  1. But it’s still *Switzerland*! Break out the umbrella some more and get outside!

  2. Hey, I’m sick of all this sunshine [in the Bay Area]. I wouldn’t mind a few days of rain.

  3. Wow, a list that prioritizes graduates going into the military… good list.

  4. SuperSub wrote:

    Wow, a list that prioritizes graduates going into the military… good list.

    Since that’s part of the Community Service score, care to explain why military service doesn’t constitute community service?

    And for the record, yeah, that is a good list since there’s hardly any higher community service then ensuring the community is safe from external threats.

  5. Kimberly says:

    As Darren notes, it’s still *Switzerland*! And you’re on your honeymoon! Unplug your computer and get out on those Alps!

  6. “100 Best” lists are beauty contests at the best of times, highly subjective and not rigorous, to say the least. I know it is the “Washington Monthly.” That probably explains how they calculated the “Community Service score”:
    “We determined the Community Service score by measuring each school’s performance in three different areas: the percentage of its students enrolled in the Army and Navy Reserve Officer Training Corps; the percentage of its alumni who are currently serving in the Peace Corps; and the percentage of its federal work-study grants devoted to community service projects.”

    I.e., Community Service Score = close ties to federal programs and entities.

    Teachers? Doctors? Priests, ministers, preachers, and rabbis of every stripe? Social workers? Even lawyers and politicians? As far as I know, all those folks need a college degree to function, and they all lead adult lives devoted to community service.