Today in academia: all-powerful college rankings, more college rankings, doing away with college rankings, MBA applications, and college athlete earnings.

  • Every college but Princeton and Harvard got rejection letters today. The newsweekly that became an authoritative college guide has released their yearly edition of the "best" colleges. And, yes, it's Princeton and Harvard that have won dual honors as the top-slotted colleges in U.S. News and World Report's rankings of National Universities. Yale was the also-ran at number 3 on that list. In other news, college admissions officers everywhere are working feverishly to tout/hide the new rankings on their brochures. [U.S. News and World Report]
  • Actually, Harvard did get 'humbled' a bit. But it wasn't by the U.S. News rankings, it was by yet another research firm conducting a "World University ranking" designation. Harvard lost to Cambridge. Harvard's Crimson newspaper talked to one of its current undergrad who dismissed the news: "I think the reputation of a university is worth much more than a ranking...Unless the university I'm going to is number one, I don't really pay attention to it." [The Harvard Crimson's Flyby blogThe Guardian]
  • Why not just say all the top schools tied for #1? There were a lot of ties this year within the top ten colleges in the U.S. News rankings. The Daily Pennsylvanian, the student paper of a school tied for 5th, quoted a non-school affiliated college rankings consultant who said it  "probably be more helpful if the top 12 schools were all tied for first." The dean of admissions at UPenn, naturally, was also quoted as "concerned" about the ranking ties. [The Daily Pennyslvanian]  
  • Another argument in favor of paying college athletes. Earlier today we highlighted a new, very comprehensive, Atlantic investigation making the case that student athletes need to get a bigger cut of the big business that is NCAA sports. Coincidentally timed is a new student advocacy group report saying, as Inside Higher Ed writes, that top athletes in college and basketball programs are worth more than $100,000 a year to their institutions. [The Atlantic, Inside Higher Ed]
  • Fewer people are deciding that they want to quit their job to get an MBA. Applications to MBA programs have declined this year, says a report by the Graduate Management Admission Council that attributed the decline, in part, to "workers' reluctance to quit their jobs to attend school full-time." Interestingly, the more specialized masters degrees did receive more applicants. [Chronicle of Higher Education]