Flagships in particular can be so major dependent and USN doesn’t deal with that/ I know UMass-A is a top CS school, that major very difficult to get into, whereas UConn likely has a major or two that are better programs than at UMass.
It can get a little ridiculous at the LAC level, too. One institution that is perennially at the tippy-top of the LAC rankings goes so far as to pay students (who are already recipients of one of the most generous financial aid programs in the country) for doing “volunteer” work. My question is, at what point does it just make better sense to simply endow another college somewhere else instead of shoveling money at the same 1600 students?
If you mean Amherst, that’s mostly to allow all students to take unpaid internships. They may be at a non-profit and therefore “volunteer work” but there are a lot of strings that come with that $ in terms of hours and reporting and mentoring.
^I believe Amherst is walking a fine line, here. Nothing wrong with giving someone a stipend so that they can take advantage of a bona fide unpaid internship. But, giving them money in return for distributing food to the hungry or for tutoring at the local high school, crosses that line, IMO.
The types of activities you are concerned about are covered under https://www.amherst.edu/campuslife/careers/find-an-internship/funding so I don’t think “…goes so far as to pay students (who are already recipients of one of the most generous financial aid programs in the country) for doing “volunteer” work” is accurate.
Many students do volunteer locally, often through clubs, but are not paid. It wouldn’t be volunteering if it were paid, in any case. That would be a job, and a job with a non-profit is not volunteering.
The ranking system at USNews was developed by a bunch of Harvard graduates. It is not by chance that Harvard ranked as #1 on their list for so many years. The system is based most heavily on “reputation” and self-ranking. Of course this is circular - your reputation is based on your rankings and your rankings are based on your reputation. Moreover, self-rankings are heavily weighted, so arrogance is awarded, while self-reflection and honesty are penalized. Harvard has a mixture of arrogance, self-promotion, wealth, and clever branding, as well as having their graduates set up the ranking system.
Well, to be honest, Harvard is also known for just how tight their alumni network has been for centuries. Until very recently, if you graduated from Harvard, you were set, since Harvard alumni in positions of power everywhere would almost automatically hire you. No need for a resume or interview - the magic words “Harvard Man” were enough. So of course Harvard Alumni consider their school to be the absolute best.
Of course, this also meant that Harvard alumni occupy multiple positions of power. Harvard is one of the oldest universities. Since universities were, until the mid-19th century, the only for the children the rich and powerful that means that Harvard graduates were from this group from its establishment. An Ivy-league education became synonymous with membership of the Ruling Elite very early on. A Harvard degree didn’t mean “smart”, “educated”, “creative”, or anything else that we value in education today. Until at least the 1980s, an Ivy league, and even more so, a Harvard degree meant “Member of the Ruling Elite”. This was true for all Ivy League schools, but, nowhere so much as for Harvard.
That is why it has always been so important for Harvard graduates that their school be #1. One of the most important things for a member of the Ruling Elite is the illusion that they are part of this group because of their own qualifications, not because of their family connections. What better way to respond to charges of nepotism than the claim “No, I deserve this position, because I went to Harvard, the best school in the country!”. When it is important for the Ruling Elite that their school be highly ranked, than that happens.
Bottom line - the original USNews rankings measured how similar a university is to Harvard, or, more accurately - how the Ruling Elite rank a College/University as a place for their kids. It’s gotten somewhat better since the people in charge of the rankings have changed, but the presence of the kids of the rich and powerful still is an important part of their rankings.
This is actually quite true. Stories abound of how Mel Elfin, the poll’s original guru, went through one iteration after another mainly because initial versions always resulted in “someplace I’d never heard of” in the #1 position. In fact, I’ll go out on a limb and suggest that nationally recognized LACs were filtered out and into their own ranking in large part to open up spots for more research universities at the top of the poll.
@MWolf Do you have sources you can share for such conspiracy claims? The guy who has been in charge of USNews College Rankings since its inception Robert J. Morse is a graduate of U of Cincinnati(BA) and Michigan State U (MBA).
And the top college in the inaugural issue of the USNews College Ranking was Stanford.
The ranking system at USNews was developed by a bunch of Harvard graduates. It is not by chance that Harvard ranked as #1 on their list for so many years. The system is based most heavily on “reputation” and self-ranking.
^Robert J. Morse took over the USNews poll in 1988. But, the poll had been appearing periodically since 1983 when Stanford, indeed was ranked #1 national university.
Some variation of the OP’s question has been asked about a billion times already, For the above reason, they all end up getting closed, like this one, because it just spirals into a debate. The OP is certainly able to form an opinion for him/herself. Closing.