It's that time of year again, the time when Francophone tourists occupy downtown Burlington like U.S. troops in Iraq. It's also the time of year when the higher ed racketeer Princeton Review releases the results of their annual college popularity contest. The rankings are rarely a surprise.
Schools like Penn State, WVU and University of Georgia are regularly ranked top date-rape party colleges, while institutions like Brigham Young and Grove City College consistently get high marks for squareness and bigotry.
While no Vermont schools topped any of the lists, we did get a few nods. Here's how our little state fared.
Of the top 373 colleges in the United States, six are in Vermont:
Those six schools, plus Sterling College, also made it onto the 218 Best Northeast Colleges list.
Bennington ranked second for least religious students and third for Birkenstock-wearing, tree-hugging, clove-smoking vegetarians. Will this state ever shed its neo-hippie image? Doubtful.
Green Mountain College landed on the list for class discussions encouraged, coming in at number four. They were also one of three Vermont schools to take top honors for "Reefer Madness," which I guess is a nice way of saying the students are lit out of their minds most of the time. However, they only ranked 17, which I guess means they're somewhat less stoned than their contemporaries at UVM and Marlboro.
Speaking of quaint Marlboro, the tiny liberal arts school landed third on the "Intercollegiate Sports Unpopular or Nonexistent" list. They also ranked fifth on the curiously titled "Dodgeball Targets" list. I guess that means either that people want to hit the students in the face with rubber balls, or that they're more likely to play dodgeball than ice hockey.
Middlebury ranked third on the "Profs Get High Marks" list, which is no surprise when you remember that world-saver-in-residence Bill McKibben teaches there. Only profs at Reed College in Oregon and Wellesley in Massachusetts ranked higher. Midd also landed on the "School Runs Like Butter" list. If students are paying $40,000+ a year, it better run like butter.
St. Mike's was ranked second for town-gown relations. Apparently those good Catholic kids don't give us tax-paying citizens any guff. Good for them. Sacramental wine for all!
Craftsbury's minuscule Sterling College didn't make any rankings. But if I was in charge of the world, I'd give them a prize for Most Rad/Bizarre Major — Northern Studies. They study the tundra. Brrr. (We once wrote about that here.)
UVM's claim to fame was its students' proclivity for pot. Ranking fourth on the reefer madness list no doubt makes the school's board of trustees very proud. Perhaps they should create a Weed Studies program. Maybe then they'd rank higher.