(photo credit: Once Upon A Time. Photo by Steve Czajka. https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/legalcode)
I am embarrassed by my reaction when the “best colleges” lists come out from U.S. News and World Report and the Princeton Review and Forbes and whoever else ranks colleges. The first thing I do is scan the list for the college I went to, the ones my siblings and close friends went to, and now the one my daughter goes to. If one of our schools is in the top five or ten, I mentally pat myself on the back, as if I have achieved something admirable by ranking or being close to somebody whose school ranked high on the list. Yet, if one of our colleges is not high on the list, I am shocked and question the formulas used to do the ranking.
Just being honest.
Here’s some more honesty: I hate those lists. They make everybody anxious. They make parents misbehave. They make high school juniors and seniors want to run off and join the circus (do people still do that? did they ever?) They turn what is a positive experience, finding a school that meets your child’s educational needs, into a negative one, competing for status.
Nothing I say will change the culture we’ve created around higher education and nothing I say will stop the machines that research and present their lists annually. Which leads me to the obvious foolishness of making my own list of the best colleges.
If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.
Here’s my list of the 10 Best Colleges Of All Time:
- Goldilocks University: Where the program is just right. For the individual student.
- Three Little Pigs University: Where the program teaches students to build a solid foundation for their educational and worldly pursuits.
- Cinderella University: Where the program teaches students to treat all people with respect even in the face of others’ unfair treatment.
- Rapunzel University: Where students learn the value of asking for help in the face of adversity.
- Chicken Little University: Where students learn to become critical thinkers who know to base decisions on reliable information.
- Little Mermaid University: Where students are encouraged to venture outside their comfort zone.
- Little Red Riding Hood University: Similar to Chicken Little University in their emphasis on critical thinking and building trust.
- Snow White University: Where the program encourages students to make mistakes and helps them to learn from them.
- Princess and the Pea University: Where students are encouraged to remain true to themselves.
- Emperor’s New Clothes University: Where students learn to temper their self-confidence with humility.
Did I mention that I have a thing for fairy tales?
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