I have been meaning to brag on an alma mater of mine for a week. Now I’m finally doing so. Money Magazine just published “The 25 Best Colleges in America” (via 19,000 Data Points). (https://bit.ly/2Zi6mlP) Some schools are definitely surprises and the schools you would expect to find in the Top 10, let alone Top 25, really aren’t there, or not as high as many would think, including their administrations and alumni! Out of 750 schools, the top school was UC Irvine! That is very surprising, because it’s not a bad school, but as part of the UC (University of California) system, it’s one of … 10? … great universities making the very best public academic system in the world. And as most people know, UC Berkeley is typically the top ranked one, followed immediately by UCLA. I’d say the next two most “elite” would be UC San Diego and UC San Francisco. At that point, there’s sort of a mishmash of the rest, including UC Irvine, UC Santa Barbara, UC Santa Cruz, UC Davis and UC Riverside. There may be another now, but that’s basically the system. So Irvine is a great school, hard to get into, excellent programs, but they don’t nearly have the reputation as the usual top two. So to find it ranked Number One in America INCLUDING both public AND private is frankly quite stunning. Kudos to them though. That’s awesome.
However, the one I’m most excited about and most proud of is that my second alma mater, where I got my first graduate degree — California State University Long Beach (CSULB) — is actually ranked #13 in the damn country — over Harvard, Cal Tech, Yale, Duke and other “elite” schools! You have no idea how big this is, because while CSULB has been ranked very high for years by Princeton Review, US News, etc., CSU schools have often been snubbed by “elite” UC schools. So it’s great to see TWO CSU schools make the list! With #13 Long Beach, CSU Fullerton is #22! Congrats! I loved my time at Long Beach State! It was great. I experienced many opportunities, worked and played hard, taught, researched, published and finished as top graduate at California’s largest university. I have always thought the education I received there was far superior to where I received my undergrad degree, the University of Tennessee. But try telling a UT admin, faculty member, student or alumnus that, and be prepared for a beat down. That’s the point — they don’t know any better.
Besides California, only one state had multiple schools: Massachusetts with three. All of the other states had one or none at all. Meanwhile, six of the top 12 schools are UC schools, dashing notions that some “elite” private schools are better. (Not naming schools, but you all know which ones…) So California (where my heart remains), has 10 (TEN!) universities in the top 25! (The six UC schools, two CSU schools, Stanford and Cal Tech.) Wonder where the best schools are now? I guess you don’t have to anymore. They’re sure not on the East Coast!!!
And if I can stretch some things here while still being honest, I actually did pretty good. While my second degree is from #13 CSULB, I also spent four years at #4 UCLA pursuing a different degree I wasn’t able to complete as I had to relocate for work. I also did post-grad work at #8 Michigan and briefly studied at #6 Stanford. FOUR Top 13 schools! AND, to stretch things even further, I presented and published several academic papers at conferences at #22 Cal State Fullerton, and I went to #1 UC Irvine to do extensive graduate level research at their research library. That’s six Top 25 schools I was/am affiliated with. Awesome.
And interestingly, the vaunted Ivy League is poorly represented, with only one school in the Top 10 (#3 Princeton) and only two more schools on the list, both behind Cal State Long Beach (#14 Harvard and #17 Yale)!!! Most others on the list would include schools you’d expect, but I was very surprised by #2 and #25, and slightly less by #24. In any event, I’m proud as hell of my graduate alma mater, Long Beach State University (California State University Long Beach). Number 13 in America, over Harvard, Yale, Vandy, Duke, etc. Way to go Beach!!!
(Incidentally, among the other schools I studied at or attended, none of them were mentioned including two schools I received degrees from: the University of Tennessee and Queens University of Charlotte…)