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U.S. News: Dartmouth Moves from #11 to #9

Dartmouth has always had a peculiar disadvantage in the U.S. News rankings, in that it is a small college competing—by choice—in a category filled almost exclusively with research leviathans; we do not aspire to be them, because they are inhumane and boring; nor do we aspire to be the less potent lights in the “liberal arts” category. The hybridity takes a toll. Dartmouth suffers too generally, because the genius of the U.S. News rankings is in its vicissitude. Since both the facts and the formulae drawing on them change each year, so do the rankings. Since the actual best college, indiscernible though the holder of that title remains, probably does not change frequently, this is brilliant (because dynamic) and unassailable (because fictional) journalism. It remains true, of course, that any ranking which suggests to consumers that Harvard College is the sine qua non of American undergraduate life is, of course, crap.

This year, Dartmouth is #9, which is an improvement. Congratulations to the administration.

Joe Asch notes: Not to be a wet blanket — at least any more than usual — but we are now ranked 9th in a tie with Duke and the University of Chicago. The school placing immediately after our three-way tie is Northwestern, which is ranked 12th. By that measure, I guess we are no longer ranked 11th.

And we did keep our top ranking in last year’s new category: Best Colleges: Undergraduate Teaching at National Universities.

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