What does it mean to say Princeton is "the top value for money" in American higher education? No problem admitting that Princeton has arguably among the best faculty, the best resources, the best environment, and the best reputation among universities in this country, along with a handful of others of course. But where you "get your money's worth" depends not on these factors alone but also on the students concerned. With a reasonably good library, a few good and conscientious professors, some good student peers, and a reasonably pleasant surroundings, both on and off campus, any student wanting to learn well can do so. He doesn't have to spend hundreds of thousands of his family's worth or in student loans to get such an education today, although granted that many schools have abused the student loan programs to raise fees and costs beyond any justification except for greed.

Of course if you define "value for money" in terms of making contacts useful for future career desires, you may well choose to spend like a drunken sailor to get your higher education -- but I would not want you to be very proud of such a choice. Prestige is not the same as education. There are plenty of ordinary, mediocre, and in some cases scandalously unpalatable graduates of premier institutions.

Norman Ravitch *62
Savannah, Ga.