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For those who still rely on the magazine's college rankings, here's how local universities fared. By Benjamin Freed
Photograph courtesy Johns Hopkins University.

The latest edition of U.S. News and World Report's increasingly criticized but still frequently touted (at least by nervous parents and high school guidance counselors) list of the nation's best universities dropped yesterday, and several local schools made an impressive showing.


Johns Hopkins University, in Baltimore, was ranked No. 12, tied with Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. Among schools closer to or actually in DC, Georgetown landed at No. 20, while the University of Virginia was No. 23. (Also good enough to be the second-highest ranked public school on the list of the top 200 universities.)

Other local schools making the cut are:
  • College of William and Mary, No. 32
  • George Washington University, No. 52
  • University of Maryland, No. 62
  • Virginia Tech, No. 69
  • American University, No. 75
  • Howard University, No. 142
The placement of a couple of these schools is worth noting. George Washington University is back on the list, after getting bounced from last year's edition after administrators at the Foggy Bottom school admitted they inflated the percentage of incoming freshmen who finished in the top tenth of their high school classes. That statistic makes up six percent of the overall scoring U.S. News uses to rank colleges, and GW fudged it for more than a decade.

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Posted at 11:34 AM/ET, 09/11/2013 | Permalink | Comments ()
An insurance company says motorists in the Washington area crash their cars far more often than the national average, but longer-term data might offer a silver lining. By Benjamin Freed
A common sight in DC and the surrounding area. Photograph by Flickr user Andrew Bossi.

In case advocates of biking, walking, and public transportation needed more in the arsenal to encourage Washington-area residents to refrain from driving Allstate Insurance dutifully supplied it. Drivers who live in DC are the worst among a ranking of nearly all of the 200 biggest US cities, crashing their cars more than twice as often as the national average. And motorists who live in the suburbs aren't much better.

Washington finished dead last in a ranking of 195 cities, holding on to an ignominious standing it also nabbed last year. On average, DC drivers go 4.8 years between accidents, according to Allstate. But people just outside the District have no reason to smirk at accident-prone Washington. Residents of Alexandria, which finished in 188th place, get in collisions an average of once every 6.2 years, while 185th-ranked Arlington drivers crash every 6.7 years. And Baltimore finished just one rung from the bottom.

Of course, the rankings are a little tenuous. The figures are based solely on claims filed with Allstate, and in general, drivers in big cities smash up their vehicles far more often than those in small towns. New York, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Miami were all in the bottom 25, too.

But there might be a silver lining in another survey put out today by the US Public Interest Research Group which states that in general, people in DC—and elsewhere around the country—are driving less. PIRG's report states that the rate at which DC residents drive peaked in 2003, but that since then, the number of miles spent in cars by an average Washingtonian has dipped by 14.4 percent.

In 2011, PIRG reports, the typical DC resident traveled 5,774 vehicle-miles, down from 7,371 in 2003. Only Alaska experienced a bigger drop off its peak driving year.

The declines were more sluggish in Virginia and Maryland, though still considerable. Virginia residents traveled an average of 10,001 miles by car in 2011, down 5.8 percent from the peak of 10,753 in 1999. In Maryland, the average distance driven declined to 9,646 miles in 2011, off a peak of 10,057 four years earlier.

Posted at 05:43 PM/ET, 08/29/2013 | Permalink | Comments ()
Like it or not, the rich keep getting richer. By Carol Ross Joynt
We imagine this is what billionaires do with their money. Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

American billionaires are getting richer. In its new list of the richest American billionaires, Forbes notes that the dozen on the magazine’s cover, including Washington’s David Rubenstein and Steve Case, are worth a combined $126 billion. The combined net worth of the 400 Americans who make up the full list is $1.7 trillion. Furthermore, back when the list started in 1982, the cutoff for the list was a net worth of $75 million. Now it’s $1.1 billion.

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Posted at 05:30 PM/ET, 09/19/2012 | Permalink | Comments ()