In a surprise move, US News and World Report’s annual college ranking now includes a new section for Yeshivas. Using a similar methodology for business and technical schools, the researchers collected data on acceptance rates, performance on standardized tests, opinions of high school guidance counselors, retention, reputation, and alumni giving.
It came as no shock to find that Beth Medrash Govoha — topped the list. Well, it was a shock for many, until they read the fine print and saw that BMG is the formal name for “Lakewood Yeshiva.”
Next on the list was my Alta Mama, I mean Alma Mater, Telshe Yeshiva. And that was no surprise either, at least not to me.
But it was the #3 that really caught my surprise — no, not Yeshiva University — it was not even in the top ten (O . M . G . ). It was not the dark horse, Bais Shraga of Monsey which surprised me at #5. And it was not even Ner Yisrael of Baltimore (which showed up at a disappointing #8). Somehow the US News researchers cut the data and arrived at Yeshivat Chovevei Torah for the #3 spot. Who even thought they were really a Yeshiva? I mean, really — yes, they learn gemara, publish journals, are totally dedicated to a non-hypocritical love of learning Torah and spreading it to the masses in an open and respectable way. But how is that Yeshivish? A shock. This only proves that US News just doesn’t get it.
And to really prove the point — they included Tomchei Temimim as #6 — Tomchei is a Lubavitch Yeshiva — #6? what were they thinking?
A couple of others stuck out: The Talmudical Institute of Upstate New York (Heshy’s alma matter) was noted as a top party-yeshiva. Wisconsin Institute of Torah Study was called the cheesiest yeshiva (boo!). And the Yeshiva Gedola of Los Angeles was ranked high in the western division. The Yeshiva of Waterbery was noted for their relatively obscure location in a non-yeshivish city.
Yeshivas were ranked on academics (high points for longer shiurim, low points for any secular studies), costs (percentage of bucherim who have to schnor during bein hazmanim), quality of life (campus, dorm, food and shtenders), and student yeshivishness (higher points for shtazy clothing, lower points for oxford shirt and red ties). And it seems to me that location was a big factor in some of the rankings. Apparently researchers looked at the availability of cigarettes, massage parlors, and cheap used cars to boost the yeshivishness of some of the institutions.
Wondering about Gateshead, “the Mir”, and Derech Etz Chaim? They are not in the US, so they were not ranked. Maybe next year.