William Deresiewicz in his essay against the Ivy Leagues (here) recommends that instead of going to an Ivy League school, students should think about going to second-tier, but not (as he emphasizes) second-rate, schools like “Reed, Kenyon, Wesleyan, Sewanee, Mount Holyoke, and others.” He adds that “these schools have retained their allegiance to real educational values” and that they are schools where “teaching and the humanities are still accorded pride of place.”
My wife teaches at one of these school, and I myself have occasionally taught there as well, and I can’t say that it is any better in those respects than any other school. We and our friends have tried to make it so, but when the administration decides that research should be as important as teaching, there’s not a lot one can do. Either teaching will suffer to some extent, or more teachers must be hired so that tuition goes up. Also, our school suffers the same nonsense in terms of postmodernism and political correctness as every other school does these days.