Yawn, Harvard is No. 1 University, But Who Is Always No. 3?

Last Updated Aug 17, 2010 3:15 AM EDT

According to US News & World Report's 2011 college rankings, Harvard is the best university in America.Harvard Yard
What's even more amazing is that my husband guessed the identity of the No. 1 university.

The lists of the best colleges and best universities were released at midnight and I stayed up to check out the list. My husband was watching The Closer on television, when I asked him to guess what US News' best university pick was.

Without taking his eyes off the screen, he said, "Harvard?"

What a genius and I didn't even think Bruce paid attention to college issues, much less college rankings. God knows, I do enough of that for both of us.

Of course, I'm being facetious. It's always a safe bet to guess that Harvard will be US News' No. 1 school.

In fact, the only real question for at least the past 10 years is whether Harvard or Princeton will be No. 1. The two Ivies have taken turns - or shared the honors -- every year since 2001. Last year Harvard and Princeton tied for the alpha dog spot. In 2008 and 2007, Princeton won. This year, Harvard edged out Princeton by one point on a 100-point scale.

Who is Always No. 3?

Any guesses who the third fiddle routinely is while Harvard and Princeton duke it out?

I posed that question to my husband (a grad of Columbia University No. 4 on list) and once again he brilliantly provided the correct answer. "Yale?" he replied.

Let's Just Flip a Coin

The magazine would save itself a lot of trouble if it just flipped a coin every year to determine who was No. 1 since there are only two contenders. Or perhaps the magazine could find a three-headed coin so Yale would also get a chance in the college rankings sweepstakes.

Of course, the more important question is not which university is allegedly No. 1, but should we care?

I tried to answer that question the last time the magazine rolled out its annual college rankings with this post:

Why US News' College Rankings Are a Joke
Lynn O'Shaughnessy is the author of The College Solution and she also write a college blog for TheCollegeSolutionBlog.

Read More on CBSMoneyWatch:

The Best Colleges You've Never Heard Of
College Rankings: Should We Care?
Harvard image by guillenperez. CC 2.0.

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