Crossing my desk right now:
I am friendly with Jeff Brenzel '75, the head of Admissions Dept at Yale, who visited us in [city] late last year. While Yale's applications were down this year, the problem Admissions faces is that our yield rate has increased 40% in recent years. As a result, they can't even offer as many admissions as used to be the norm. We were told that while 6,000 of the annual applicants are acceptable, but they have to gauge the total offers of admission with the 70% yield and capacity for 1,500 matriculants in mind...
It seems that the process has become sufficiently random that few people can count on getting in anywhere in particular, although everybody clearly gets to go to college somewhere. And the correlation of teaching effectiveness with academic rank is low.
If I were going to college again, I would be strongly tempted by Yale: its claim to have few enough graduate students that the faculty pay attention to the undergrads and thus that you get the advantages of a college is credible, as is its claim that it has a large enough and active enough facutly that you get the advantages of a university. And New Haven today is a much nicer place than it was in 1978, when I got mugged there. And Yale's faux gothic architecture is gloriously successful.
But the place I really want to go is NYU. The faculty is superb, and because the world pool of students haven't caught on yet this creates an opportunity. Its physical plant is very nice. Plus you get to live in Greenwich Village at the start of the third millennium--which is (barring the possibility unpleasant people with WMDs) truly glorious, and something I have never done (but often wished I had).