11 Great Colleges – Mostly Off the Beaten Path

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What do the University of Notre Dame and Raritan Valley Community College have in common?

They both made the short list of great colleges that are doing an exceptionally good jobs.  The list was complied by Andrew Hacker, a professor at Queens College and Claudia Dreifus, a New York Times writer, who are the authors of How Colleges are Wasting Our Money and Failing Our Kids – And What We Can Do About It, which will be released in early August.

The list is filled with colleges and universities that you’d normally never hear about, which is why it appealed to me. I’m so tired of hearing about the same old tired list of schools.

Here are the schools on the authors’ eclectic list:

Here’s what the authors said about their picks:

The institutions that we’ve cited are exceptions to our premise that higher education has lost track of its original and enduring purpose. They reinforce our view that college should be a cultural journey, an intellectual expedition, a voyage confronting new ideas and information. Many colleges with national names and universities with imperial plans could learn a lot from them.

Most of the schools made the list because of their commitment to undergraduate education.

But don’t all universities, you may be wondering, focus on undergraduate education? Actually, no. The focus of too many institutions and professors is on conducting research and educating graduate students. The lowly undergrads, who are too often taught by teaching assistants or poorly paid (and exploited) part-time professors, pay the tab and are shortchanged in the process.

Take a look at the authors’ commentary in The Chronicle of Higher Education, which also includes the author’s thoughtful suggestions on how to make colleges and universities more consumer friendly.

Lynn O’Shaughnessy is the author of The College Solution and an eBook, Shrinking the Cost of College: 152 Ways to Cut the Price of a Bachelor’s Degree.

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3 Responses to “11 Great Colleges – Mostly Off the Beaten Path”

  1. Dear Lynn:

    Thank you for your kind words and we will send for your book.

    Wishing you a great summer. Best, Claudia D.

  2. Patricia says:

    Hi Lynn,
    Those of us in Boston are quite surprised to hear that MIT is ‘off the beaten path’, maybe because so few are chosen. MIT does top the list of colleges that give back to the community and I can attest to that.
    But most of my son’s classmates apply to the same old schools so I am always looking for suggestions.

  3. Lynn says:

    Hi Patricia,

    Thanks for your email. You’re right MIT is hardly off the beaten path, but most of the schools are. If you are interested in other off-the-beaten-path ideas, have you ever taken a look at Forbes’ list of colleges. The list is broken down into regions as well. Here is a link to the Forbes rankings that are produced by The Center for College Affordability & Productivity. http://www.centerforcollegeaffordability.org/pages/page.asp?page_id=78499

    Here is a story that I wrote for my college blog at CBSMoneyWatch on colleges many families haven’t heard about: http://moneywatch.bnet.com/saving-money/blog/college-solution/the-best-colleges-youve-never-heard-of/643/

    Good luck with your search!

    Lynn O’Shaughnessy

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