Oh, no! Our local overpriced, elitist institutes of higher education are in a parlous state, say the press! The quality of scholarship and living at Columbia and New York Universities has gone straight to pot in a handbasket! (Sorry, hard to resist.) Outside of college public-affairs offices, most acknowledge that rankings like the Princeton Review’s “Top Ten Dream Colleges” list, out today, have practically no tangible bearing on the education consumer. This year, NYU fell to fourth from its previous top rank, but, essentially, it just shuffled around a tad with its usual neighbors on the list — Harvard, Princeton, and Stanford. So why all the calamitous talk? The annual rankings season spawns softball stories for reporters with column inches to fill. Plus, the Princeton Review practically wrote the story itself with its nyah-nyah annotation (the only one on the list) next to NYU’s name. “Previously #1 for 3 consecutive years,” it reads. Way to rub it in, guys.