The best bang-for-the-buck colleges

The University of California at San Diego tops Washington Monthly‘s list of the top colleges for social mobility (enrolling and graduating low-income students at an affordable price), research and service. Next in line are Texas A&M, Stanford, University of North Carolina and Berkeley.

Only one of U.S. News‘ top ten schools, Stanford, makes the Washington Monthy’s top ten. Yale fails even to crack the top 40. New York University, which has floated to national prominence on a sea of student debt, is 77th. NYU does particularly poorly on the new “bang for the buck” measure.
Thirteen of the top 20 Washington Monthly universities are public, while all the top-ranked U.S. News colleges are “private institutions that spend more, charge more, and cater almost exclusively to the rich and upper-upper middle class.”
Also in the Washington Monthly, Stephen Burd calls for Getting Rid of the College Loan Repo Man who fails to distinguish between deadbeats and people who just can’t pay.

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  1. superdestroyer says:

    UCSD or Texas A&M may have a better cost-benefit ratio but if a student decides to attend them, they need to be very careful in picking their degree.

    One can major in economics or political science at Yale and go on to a high paying career on Wall Street or in politics. Majoring in economics or political science at UCSD or Texas A&M would be a huge waste of time that would leave the graduate in a sales job somewhere with little prospects.

    • Ted Craig says:

      I get the feeling A&M grads will do fine in those fields. The current governor of Texas is an Aggie. Robert Gates was the school’s president. George H.W. Bush is a big supporter.

  2. On the other hand, Texas A&M has one of the best vet schools in the country. It also has a quite respectable school of engineering and well-reguarded school of agriculture.

    Also, from their political science department website we learn that they are around the twentieth best school nationally for political science and in the top ten if you can only afford a public institution:

    The Department has attained national visibility for its academic programs, faculty, and scholarship. By 2005 the Ph.D. program was ranked 22nd among all such programs in the United States, eighth among those in public institutions, and 17th in the field of American Politics by U.S. News and World Report.

    Google before you speak…

    • superdesttroyer says:

      Vet school is a professional school and has nothing to do with the Washington Monthly ratings.

      Also, how many Texas A&M graduates are writing for the NY Times, are working in the White House, are advisors to the president, are working in influential think tanks in DC.

      Once again, it would help if the social science types actually understood what a log-normal distribution is.

      Also, if PhD and academic career is important, that going to an Ivy League is even more important since all tenure tracked college facualty positions are national job searches.

  3. Any ratings system that has any so-called ‘universities’ from the South listed in the top anything is an obvious fabrication…

    • Mark Roulo says:


      Georgia Tech (especially the engineering department) is such a poor school it is amazing that it ever shows up on lists at all.

      College of William and Mary and University of Virginia are two other disgraces.

      • Cranberry says:

        Don’t forget Vanderbilt, Duke, the University of Virginia, UNC-Chapel Hill, Texas A&M, Rice, and Emory!

  4. Cranberry says:

    “The Buck” varies greatly by in-state vs. out-of-state status, and family income. If a wealthy family from New York would pay the same tuition for UC San Diego and Dartmouth, guess what? They’ll choose Dartmouth.