There are more than 7,000 colleges in the U.S., and 21.8 million students enrolled in them. That's potentially 21.8 million opinions about what makes a school "the best."
The penalty for a bad choice can be huge. The cost of a degree continues to soar, graduation rates vary widely from college to college, and a growing body of evidence suggests that picking a supposedly "top" school doesn't necessarily pay off later in life.
Something funny has happened to the familiar commencement address in the past 10 years. That something is YouTube. Steve Jobs' 2005 address at Stanford, to take just one example, has been viewed upwards of 20 million times.
Learning is something people, like other animals, do whenever our eyes are open. Education, though, is uniquely human, and right now it's at an unusual point of flux.
By some accounts, education is a $7 trillion global industry ripe for disruption. Others see it as almost a sacred pursuit — a means of nurturing developing minds while preserving tradition. Around the world, education means equal rights and opportunity. People risk their lives for it every day.
A small number of universities are starting to go against the grain, reducing amenities and frills in favor of keeping the costs relatively low.
Neil Theobald is the president of Temple University, which recently began offering students $4,000 per year in grants — if they promise to limit the number of hours they work during the school year and graduate on time.