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Account of Atlantic's Rankings Misses Point

Letters to the Editors

NO WRITER ATTRIBUTED

To the editors:

Contrary to the implication of Zachary Seward’s article on Oct. 10 (News, “New College Ranking Places Harvard Fifth”), the Atlantic Monthly is not entering the “club” of magazine that rank colleges. Several of the articles in our November, 2003, “survey” of college admissions explain what’s wrong with the ranking process. In order to demonstrate the fallibility of rankings, without being just theoretical, we constructed a potemkin ranking which we then deconstructed. This was not meant, and cannot reasonably be read, as an attempt to say which college is better than which other.

Why was MIT number one on this ranking, and Harvard number five? Well, I guess you’ll just have to read it to find out—and see our explanation of how little any such ranking means.

James M. Fallows ’70

Washington, D.C.

Oct. 10, 2003

The writer is a national correspondent for the Atlantic Monthly.

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