U.S. News & World Distort

I never went to college. I was too distracted, too dyslexic, and too disruptive—in and outside the classroom—to discipline myself to study. Where others saw a college campus as a destination for the anointed, where architects saw brick buildings and white steeples, where students walked beside rows of trees and made their way toward a central archway, where everything looked so perfect, I saw the perfect movie set.

Perhaps that was the point.

Perhaps the entire edifice is a façade: not a physical one but an intellectual one, where the infrastructure is solid but the intelligence of the students is shallow. Perhaps an education is secondary to a credential; a piece of parchment with a crimson seal—a circular stamp of wax, with various layers and viscous curves—in which this molten dropping hardens behind a mahogany frame and a sheet of glass. Perhaps the name of the school matters more than the schooling a student receives.

How else to explain the 2019 Best Colleges Rankings from U.S. News & World Report?

How did a magazine no longer in print, and long removed from serious reportage, become the world’s authority on higher education?

How did we allow ourselves to become such fools, issuing platitudes about democracy while trying to reach the highest altitude of an aristocracy of the unwise and the unjust?

How can our best colleges educate so few, when so many of so few do not even read?

Perhaps the questions are irrelevant since we mistake status for substance.

Perhaps the rarified air of Harvard (or Princeton or Yale) induces euphoria, just as the thinness of air makes it hard to think.

Tempted by the summit, we trick ourselves into dying by our own acts of stupidity.

Photo credit: Universal Pictures

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