While every year there seems to be a furor over which school will come out on top of all the others in the various rankings, there is hardly ever fluctuation in the top U.S. colleges- let's say, the top 20 list. Much has been argued regarding the elitism of the rankings and the vicious cycle they create for the coveted spots, essentially that those top U.S. colleges will remain at the top because ... each year these lists basically generate earnings for the universities, thus separating them from the pack even more with the resources they have and the amount of, well, everything, that they can offer to students. The order goes like this: Make list, make money, make yourself better with money, thus making list again, to make more money, to --- well, you get the drift.
Alumni leave these schools with a greater sense of affinity to their alma mater than Tier 2 schools, or even those schools in the last quarter of the top 100. But these schools are not for everyone and they shouldn't be, either. The top U.S. colleges, through whichever ranking you read, are only there because there is a ranking system, period. Many wise professors and students are currently at universities and colleges all over the country, those which do not perennially inhabit the top U.S. college lists. Someone said to me once, when my wife was first pregnant, "the toys for kids are everywhere. Toy stores are so obscene it's sickening. All my kid ever had was a few tupperware and wooden spoons and she was such a happy kid". She was one of my students. Really a brilliant and content young lady. She actually had the chance to go to a top U.S. college and decided against it. She didn't feel that there was enough creativity on campus when she went to visit.
Brady Norvall, M.A.