If social media is any indicator, some of our classmates are downright giddy that Forbes has ranked Swarthmore the No. 6 college in the nation. You see, Swatties love to be egalitarian and anti-capitalist, except when a prominent business magazine is ranking us ahead of Harvard (No. 8), MIT (No. 10) and Penn (No. 12).
Forbes, along with the Princeton Review and what used to be Newsweek, has been smart enough to get in on the college rankings racket, which is a big, though rather duplicitous business. Forbes purposely rates national universities and liberal arts colleges side-by-side in order to rival U.S. News, the rankings juggernaut which separates them into specialized lists. By combing the two, Forbes gives an edge to smaller schools like Swarthmore and provides Swatties a rare chance to puff out their Quaker chests.
We’re not against a little school pride or the chance to sneer at the Ivy League. But because most mainstream ranking outfits fail to consider college tuition costs or what professors actually teach, we remain skeptical of lists like the one Forbes just issued. But, hey, the hypocrisy of some of our peers is amusing.