Benjamin Franklin once famously said that the only things certain in life are death and taxes (a rather fatalistic saying for someone who got so much tail). In the world of college rankings, one might add, “And Harvard will always be first, and Penn will always be inexplicably overrated.” Yes, it’s this year’s edition of the US News and World Report college rankings, and Columbia’s held onto its #8 ranking, while ditching Duke to #10. Other movement from last year was minimal, with Princeton moving from 2nd to 1st, Penn moving into a tie for fourth with Stanford (huh?), and Cornell falling below Hopkins. Brown remains bottom among Ivy League schools. The top 20:

1. Harvard/Princeton

3. Yale

4. Caltech/MIT/Stanford/UPenn

8. Columbia/UChicago

10. Duke

11. Dartmouth

12. Northwestern/WashU

14. Johns Hopkins

15. Cornell

16. Brown

17. Emory/Rice/Vanderbilt

20. Notre Dame

Columbia administrators are probably rubbing their hands in anticipation of next year: because these rankings are based on 2008 data, the past year’s financial trouble for many top schools (which, comparatively, Columbia escaped) will only be taken into account next year. Then again, it wouldn’t surprise anyone to find a financially incompetent school on top again – US News has its ways.