Research helped catapult a number of surprising schools, ones who do not initially appear to have great social contributions, to the top of the list. The research facilities of MIT, UCLA, Berkeley, Cornell, and Stanford all helped propel them into the top 5. However, more than research was needed to bring about a high score, as is obvious when Harvard ranks #16 on the list. MIT’s service dedication was very high - #7 on that list – and that helped push it to #1 on the overall rankings. Due to their high proportion of lower-income students, public universities ranked high on the list. The University of California system had 4 of its 9 campuses in the top 20: UCLA (#2); UC Berkeley (#3); UC San Diego (#8) and UC Davis (#17). At the same time, however, Princeton finished far down, around Iowa State University. This is partially due to its status as a university (Princeton stresses teaching rather than research), but it also did poorly on national service and social mobility, areas where it should have done much better.
It is a fascinating re-evaluation of schools, one that looks at the social implications of their roles as educators, rather than mere student-performance based results. I encourage everyone to look at this ranking, for it helps to encapsulate some of the ideals we need to stress in higher education: good strong research, a willingness to help everyone achieve a good education, and an emphasis on giving back to the community and the country.
The whole article can be read at http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/features/2005/0509.collegeguide.html