Huffington Post list of interesting colleges really is not that interesting

Jan 19th, 2014 | By | Category: college life, Lists, News, Profiles, Silly, USA

I am always pleased to see list of colleges, be it traditional rankings ala USNEWS and Forbes, or Happiest colleges or Return on Investment. So when a friend posted Huffington Post’s article “The MOst Interesting Places to go to Colleges” on Facebook I immediately clicked only to be disappointed. The list lacks actual interesting elements. 

University of Wisoncsin. They love sports. They Party. They have snow ball fights. It could be Iowa. It could be Illinois. Only it is not any of those places. It is the home of the Badgers: 135 majors, 4000 course, 29,000 undergraduates. They spend a billion dollars on research. Back in the 70’s this same research lead to massive student protests and even bombing campaigns. With 100 research centers, they explore engines to stem cells to food to deadly viruses. And you can to through their very active Undergraduate Research Program. Students adore the 10,000 acre campus and Arboretum. Wander around and you may stumble on one of the Effigy Mounds when you are jogging or hiking the 150 miles of trails. With 800 clubs, there is a lot to do beyond partying and snowball fights. You could attend 1500 performances every year which culminates in the annual student symposium shocasing 550 students “undergraduate research, achievements, creativity, service-learning and other scholarly activities from all areas of study at UW–Madison including the humanities, fine arts, biological sciences, physical sciences, and social sciences.”

You can start your college career by living and learning in a special interest learning community called a fig. You and 19 other students take three classes and live together. Perhaps you love Biology so you jump into the “The Human Microbiome: The Bugs in Our Bodies” With all the focus on positive psychology perhaps you might want to join Contemplative Neuroscience: The Psychology of Well-Being. Perhaps you fancy yourself a future business tycoon, so check out the Leadership in the Global Economy

It is one of 33 Sea Grant Colleges working to understand and protect the coasts. It bosts the oldest continuing operating radio station (“The Snake on the Lake”) on a college campus–you could join 150 volunteers working it. It has not one, but two student newspapers. This is also where the Onion started. 

And the list goes on, but the huffington post did not actually do any research. Frankly, I am bored. Minnesota has record stores and a hockey team? Berkeley has protests? Iowa has fun by drinking vodka and listening to presidential candidates? Cooper union is free, but not for long and students protest. Go figure. Boulder student smoke pot while dodging bears and cougars to get to class (seriously? How often does that happen?) Pixar recruits at Brown (well that is actually interesting, but the source is a blog with no attirubtion, but Brown Profess Andy Van dame did teach a bunch of Pixar people) and Brownies like sex. Then again, college students like sex. Heck people like sex. 

The list features a lot of college that have a large footprint on the public’s mind when it comes to colleges (USC, NYU, Austin, Harvard, MIT, etc.). But there are some surprises like Drake (And how does $3 whiskies and Better Homes and Gardens make it interesting?), Sarah Lawrence (small classes and international programs–seriously, could you do some actual research–this is ONE OF MOST INTERESTING COLLEGES IN THE WORLD) and a big school outlier–Alabama (Football and frats).

In the comments, you will find people bemoaning both the writing and the list itself. But some commenters are offer their own colleges and in some cases with much more substance than Huffington Post could muster. 

How did George Washington University not make this list? 3 blocks from the white house, most politically active university, you graduate on the white house lawn. Doesn’t get much better than that.

How did George Washington University not make this list? 3 blocks from the white house, most politically active university, you graduate on the white house lawn. Doesn’t get much better than that.

OK, only the facts: That is, by far, the worst picture of any kind ever taken of USC. By any national standards, USC has one of the most beautiful campuses in the country, especially University Park. If not, in your own words why would so many movies be filmed there? And further, similar to Yale located in an older area of its city is a testament to USC’s venerable age est.1880, oldest west of the Mississippi, and its commitment to the city of Los Angeles. Not a flagship? USC is among the top 25 best academic universities in the country, last ranking 23. Who cares about Dr. Dre? Why mention him? What about George Lucas and the Annenburg Foundation handing over 100’s of millions to USC and so many other very prominent donors to the university for over a century? Diversity? What about being the most international university in the country with students from more countries than any other? What about high admission standards 4.0 and 1,350? I purposely haven’t even mentioned legendary sports achievements and entertainment. But why omit that Will Farrell is a proud alumnus and not merely an occasional visitor? In truth your description of USC is obviously poor reporting and likely biased. Notwithstanding, thank you for listing us as one of the most interesting colleges to attend. As a proud alumnus I agree in principal but for many, many more salient reasons.

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