Worst Colleges in America

Jason Rosenhouse links this excellent feature from Radar entitled America’s Worst Colleges.

My favorite? The review of Liberty university.

Notable Course: Christian Womanhood IV. Because keeping your mouth shut is too rich a subject for just three levels of study.

Raw Data: Ranked in the lowest “fourth tier” by U.S. News & World Report and awarded ho-hum grades for academics, social life, and campus attractiveness by its students, Liberty proudly accepts 94 percent of applicants. Low SAT scores do not appear to be an obstacle. On the plus side, the debate team won the national championship last year.

School Pride: “The mountains and all are beautiful. It’s right near the Wal-Mart, too,” writes a student on Campus Dirt. “The College Republicans are the best!!!!” gushes another enthusiastic reviewer. A third warns prospectives to “Be ready for an AWESOME spiritual experience at the finest Christian university in America! Be prepared to follow the high standards and rules they have set forth, it will be worth it!”

Fun Fact: Kudos to Falwell for naming the fervently anti-gay university’s football team the Flames.

Ha! Reading some of the other reviews, one wonders how these places exist – and manage to get 20k a year out of people. Then one realizes that a significant number of people who are running our country today were “educated” at Liberty.

Damn. Now the article doesn’t seem nearly as funny. More sickly disturbing than funny.

Also, one wonders, no mention of George Mason? It’s a commuter-school extraordinaire – home of the Mercatus Center and source of anti-science policy cranks for your Republican of choice. Whenever you need some problem to be labeled “no problem”, just call George Mason.


  1. Adrienne

    Hey, don’t trash Mason! It actually has some good depts and profs. I’m getting an MS degree from there too (yes, I’m biased).

  2. What’s sad to me is that a LOT of those other colleges really do NOT belong in the same category as Liberty U.

    I know several good people at East Lansing, for example.

    I realize I’m taking the article too seriously, as it was intended as a parody. However, the serious problems and issues associated with a lot of colleges are on a completely different level from the disinformation about the world and about religion represented by the crap that is the Liberty U. curriculum.


  3. Re George Mason

    It should also be pointed out that ID sockpuppet Sal Cordova is a student at George Mason.

  4. Not to be contrary here but isn’t it a fact that global warming denialists Fred Singer and Pat Michaels are on the faculty at UVA? One should be careful about pointing a finger and remember that the other three fingers point 180 degrees in the opposite direction.

  5. minimalist

    Cornell well deserves its place as “worst Ivy”. It has a seemingly much higher than average percentage of cranks, particularly in the social sciences.

    A few years back, there was a long stretch where it seemed like every few weeks some nitwit from Cornell was making the news with some moonbat idea about race, or male/female relationships, or evolutionary psychology, or whatever. Damn if I can remember any of them, though. All I remember is seeing Cornell pop up in connection with woo a lot.

  6. Yes! And we have Charmaigne Yoest too!

    However, if you follow the sourcewatch link you see that GM got funneled a ton of money from right wing organizations to create a patina of academic legitimacy for their crazy libertarianism.

    While UVa does have some cranks (many good universities end up with some – tenured too), we also have plenty of legitimate academics to balance it out. The problem with GM is the balance is all off. In the comparison between Mr. Jefferson’s university and GM, well, there is no comparison. The monkeys are running the zoo.

  7. Isn’t Cornell home to one of the more notorious IDEA (pro-Intelligent Design) clubs?

  8. minimalist

    Ah, I can’t believe I forgot about that one. Yeah, I think the Cornell IDEA club is the original, or most vocal/active, or whatever.

    Also, UVA had someone on their psych faculty (recently retired) who believed in, and researched, past lives and woo like that. The faculty newsletter had a really fawning and credulous article about his retirement. I realize an article like that shouldn’t say “Professor Z wasted his life on nonsense and will die a forgotten, inconsequential crank”, even if it’s true. But the article went way too far the other way, basically calling him a visionary with groundbreaking research. The author was probably an ex-student or disciple or whatever.

  9. PuckishOne

    My alma mater, the University of Washington, in the very same city as the Discovery Institute, ranks #42. Douglas Adams is chortling in his grave this very minute.

  10. Re Charmaine Yoest

    According to the UVA faculty web site, Ms. Yoest is not on the faculty of UVA but is described as a postdoctoral fellow. As a member of the Fascist Research Council, she is obviously a whackjob and I think it manifestly unfair to compare her to Fred Singer who was at one time a respectable atmospheric physicist.

  11. Just watched a Richard Dawkins speech in Lynchburg, Virginia that was shown on BookTV. During the Q and A period at the end, their were a lot of Liberty U students asking the types of question the Dawkins have heard over and over again. Easily and amusingly dispatched.

    Then there was a Liberty U professor who claimed that the biology department and a dinosaur fossil that was three thousand years old. (Not a misquote!) Now this made Dawkins upset. After explaining that there are many tests that can be conducted on the surrounding rocks to get an age of the fossil, he condemned the biology department. He called it a disgrace.

    I am afraid there are creationists who have pointed at this as Dawkins being arrogant and dismissive. But I see it as putting up will willful ignorance. It was not a good showing for Liberty U.

  12. Oh be fair SLC. You brought up Singer and Michaels as an example of a crank. I listed a third crank often associated with us (after you mentioned Sal Cordova as a student), and now I’m being mean to Singer?

    Did we wake up on the wrong side of the bed this morning?

  13. One should be careful about pointing a finger and remember that the other three fingers point 180 degrees in the opposite direction.

    I never understood this bit of lore. When I point, my other fingers actually point off to the right (or left, depending on which hand I use) and slightly behind me. Kind of reminds me of the “Never assume. When you assume, you make an a$$ out of Uma Thurman”. <grin>

  14. Stagyar zil Doggo

    Also, one wonders, no mention of George Mason? It’s a commuter-school extraordinaire – home of the Mercatus Center and source of anti-science policy cranks for your Republican of choice. Whenever you need some problem to be labeled “no problem”, just call George Mason.

    True. But this is balanced by conducting oncampus 60s era Hippy re-enactments.

  15. angrytoxicologist

    Clearly GMU should be the 11th worst. Or at least nominated for the category: Front groups masquarading as university entities.

    That doesn’t mean that if you go there can’t get a fine education. It just means that the GMU on your diploma is tarnished by their “independent centers” of hackery. (As with the Harvard Center for Risk Analysis; be either research university or a consulting company, but make up your mind).

  16. AngryTox has it right. You get out of your education what you put in, and GMU, I’m sure, has basic competency at the undergrad teaching level. But in terms of the academic integrity of a substantial portion of the faculty, they are the pits. They have more hacks per square foot than any university should.

  17. Just for the record, my PhD thesis adviser (physics) was an old earth creationist who rejected the theory of evolution. Otherwise, he was a perfectly respectable physicist, as Fred Singer was in he somewhat distant past. The fact that Singer has now apparently turned into a whackjob, although unusual, is not unheard of. Recall Linus Pauling, William Shockley, Peter Deusberg, J. Allen Hynek, and Brian Josephson, respectable scientists all at an early point in their careers.

  18. Cranks or not, GMU making the Final Four a few years ago was the coolest thing I’ve ever seen, not topped until my alma mater made it again last year. The fact that GMU beat UConn and North Carolina on the way was also very cool.

  19. ivy privy

    Isn’t Cornell home to one of the more notorious IDEA (pro-Intelligent Design) clubs?

    Yes, but their blog The Design Paradigm seems to have fallen into inactivity since their star Hannah Maxson graduated and was awarded the anonymous Casey Luskin Graduate Award.

    Having Will Provine and Greg Graffin ought to help compensate for that though.

  20. ivy privy

    Not to mention Cornell also had Carl Sagan. He hasn’t been doing enough to promote his recent book though…

  21. Liberty did not win the national debate championship. They were ranked #1 in debate for a while, but that’s because they never actually debated a contender. Michigan State won in 2005 and 2006, and Emory won in 2007. Liberty did not even make the double octafinal round.

  22. Deech56

    Now don’t be busting on my alma mater, Cornell. Yes, we have Ann Coulter, but we also have Eric Alterman, Bill Maher and Keith Olbermann to represent the carnelian and white.


    So, “the real agenda was not improving American public education academically but changing it from a system that taught young Americans basic skills and imparted essential cultural knowledge, to a system of training youngsters to serve the state in whatever capacity the government thought necessary.” The Duke lacrosse team fiasco shows that liberal educators have created a phony cultural paradigm that distorts reality. And, nobody exploits phony paradigms, obfuscates the truth, or games the system like the Clintons.


    Set the Wayback Machine for 23 August 1995: a hot day in the nation’s capitol. But 3000 miles due west on the California Coast, a constellation of events was unfolding that would have a cataclysmic effect. Bill Clinton picked up the telephone. It was his Chief of Staff Leon Panetta, calling from a payphone in Monterey. Bill held the receiver at arms length and gazed at the tasteful floral arrangement that adorned the Oval Office. Leon’s disembodied voice filled the room. What now, asked Hillary. It’s that damn college, mouthed Bill. Hillary nodded; just tell Leon he’ll get whatever he needs. There was, no getting out: http://theseedsof9-11.com
    notiz=[disemvowelled for off-topic and mentally-ill rambling]

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