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Higher Education News from the Collegiate Way

These news items about residential colleges and the renewal of university life are posted for readers of the Collegiate Way website. To receive an occasional digest of this news please add your name to the monthly Collegiate Way mailing list.

Half of Top 25 Universities Have Residential Colleges

[America’s Best Colleges] — It’s often said that comparisons are odious. Nevertheless, there’s money to be gotten in making them.

This year’s edition of the widely reviled and universally read America’s Best Colleges has just hit the newsstands. Published by U.S. News & World Report, America’s Best Colleges is the United States version of the university league tables in Britain and the Maclean’s magazine listings in Canada. Universities that rise a place or two in the U.S. News rankings will issue press releases. Those that drop a place or two will deride the whole enterprise as little more than vulgar consumerism and will fire their marketing directors. Next year these groups will switch places and do it all again.

But there’s one broad statistic you probably won’t see mentioned anywhere. Of the top 25 national universities in the U.S. News rankings, 12 have faculty-led residential college systems that are either complete, partial, or in the works. These range from the long-established systems of Harvard, Yale, and Rice, to the newer ones at the University of Pennsylvania and Washington University, to the systems a-borning at Vanderbilt and Cornell. And of the high-ranking universities that do not have residential college systems, several have been noted here before in the context of collegiate proposals made by alumni and students, including the University of Chicago and Georgetown University.

The flip side of the coin: among the 50 fourth-tier universities at the bottom of the national rankings, from Alabama A&M to Wright State, not a residential college is to be found.

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© Robert J. O’Hara 2000–2014