Rank (as in smelly) rankings: On Sunday, I blogged the news that Atlantic Monthly was issuing a college ranking issue filled with stories about how one should ignore such rankings. Today, the NYT joins (reg. required) in the coverage of the reluctant rankings. The focus on articles about why such rankings is ridiculous within the context of a magazine marketing effort supporting the “First Annual” college rankings. It seems an example of what I’ll call the “Geraldine Promotion Strategy.” This is when a magazine rips off another magazine’s proven promotional gimmick while declaring (ala Flip Wilson), “the devil made me do it.”
In fairness to Atlantic Monthly, apart from the disingenuous hype, the package of stories look very intriguing. And online, the magazine’s website has some flashbacks to archival stories on related topics. Especially insightful is this piece from May, 1892, (that’s right, 1892) on “The present requirements for admission to Harvard College.” It’s a long article, but should be required reading for any current high school senior complaining about how difficult the application process is now.