Washingon Monthly’s College Guide

Photo by Flickr user tEB471959 under creative commons

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Ask not what your college does for you, but what your college does for the country. That’s the creed of the Washington Monthly‘s annual college guide, released this week. This is the newest in a string of college rankings, ranging from the elite US News & World Report to the hilarious GQ, which ranked the country’s 25 Douchiest Colleges. But the Washington Monthly‘s guide stands apart. It explains:

Unlike U.S. News and World Report and similar guides, this one asks not what colleges can do for you, but what colleges are doing for the country. Are they educating low-income students, or just catering to the affluent? Are they improving the quality of their teaching, or ducking accountability for it? Are they trying to become more productive—and if so, why is average tuition rising faster than health care costs? Every year we lavish billions of tax dollars and other public benefits on institutions of higher learning. This guide asks: Are we getting the most for our money?

Of all of the college rankings I’ve seen, this most closely matches the ethos behind the 2009 “MoJo Mini College Guide,” because both place smart, fearless education and public service above endowment size and reputation. US News, for example, describes Kentucky’s Berea College, one of the ten schools on MoJo‘s guide, simply as a “Tier 3” school. But Washington Monthly placed it at #12 on it’s list of top liberal arts colleges, perhaps because it offers all students free tuition for four years. For more examples like Berea, check out the the MoJo Mini College Guide, which includes some of the best schools you’ve never heard of that won’t destroy your wallet, the best jobs that don’t require a college degree, and some of the more… uh… creative funding options out there.

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