August 26, 2005

Washington Monthly gets in on the game

The Washington Monthly has just released its own list ranking American colleges and universities, seeking to complement and perhaps challenge the methodology and philosophy behind the infamous US News rankings. WM has changed the focus and the criteria for the list drastically:

The first question we asked was, what does America need from its universities? From this starting point, we came up with three central criteria: Universities should be engines of social mobility, they should produce the academic minds and scientific research that advance knowledge and drive economic growth, and they should inculcate and encourage an ethic of service. We designed our evaluation system accordingly.

Here's the list. As you can see, Dartmouth did not crack the top 30. I have been unable to look at an actual copy of the magazine yet, so I do not know what position Dartmouth actually came in at, but here:

Dartmouth does get a mention in the article, but in a very negative (though hardly fair) light:
Nine Nobelists are on faculty at UCSD (Dartmouth, by comparison, has none)...

The rest of the article can be found here.


  1. These rankings, like all rankings, but especially these rankings, are absolute shit.

    Engines of social mobility?
    Well that gives the state schools a clear advantage, and I don't think there is anything necessarily wrong with that.
    But if thats a measure of % of low income students admitted, that doesn't necessarily mean it generates social mobility. I'm curious. I mean, wouldn't that require some longitudinal study of the income/education level of the parents, and then income levels at various stages after graduation, etc?
    Instead, they devised a formula based on Pell grants and graduation rates, and essentially attempts to measure how many more poor kids than expected graduate.
    As for the size of the ROTC programs, well, Dartmouth takes a blow there (and deserves to, the administration intentionally neglected the program). However, ROTC is also a reflection of the political and social atmosphere of the college and income level as well, not necessarily indicative (and certainly not the only indicator) of an ethic of service. At Dartmouth, hundreds of students go onto non-profits, political careers, policy, and other endeavors that I would consider service.
    They measure number of students in the Peace Corps, but apparently not Teach for America.
    A more comprehensive definition of service would undoubtedly benefit Dartmouth in these rankings.

    Now, because we are a "college" and not a "university", and we don't have these massive graduate research departments, we score low in another of their 3 categories. Besides their methodology in the 3 categories they measure, they don't look at anything at all that indicate quality of academic experience. Isn't academic performance important? What about class size?

    Fuck em. Fuck all these stupid rankings. What there should be is a computerized database, with tons of statistics about each school, and an easy way to compare them, and then a comprehensive "the school says" and "the students say" section, kind of expanding on what Princeton Review already does.

  2. Anonymous2:01 PM

    Incidentally, the editor of Washington Monthly is Benjamin Wallace-Wells '00, former editor of the Dartmouth Review.

  3. Anonymous3:16 AM

    wow. thanks anonymous. that is possibly the most fantastic thing i've seen all day. no wait. its a close second to seeing llamas having sex (but thats whole 'nother story). anywho, that's a great tidbit of info...


  4. Malchow's got a copy of it on his blog. We ranked 37th, but way more importantly, 4th in the Peace Corps category. Sweet.