Though these days they often gets overshadowed by NYU and Columbia, New York City is home to a large and illustrious group of institutions of higher learning. One of the greatest of those institutions is easily The City University of New York (CUNY). Though its reputation has been tarnished over the years it is still the largest urban university in the United States - 11 senior colleges, 6 community colleges, a graduate school, a law school and a med school all located in the five boroughs. The only bigger university systems in terms of enrollment are the California State University system and SUNY (which is a separate system from CUNY). CUNY also has one of the highest numbers of nobel laureate alumni (12) of any public university.

Which is why it is nice to see, in the aftermath of the bickering over wether or not to close open admissions to the system's senior colleges, that each incoming class at CUNY looks better and smarter.

The number of "A" students considering CUNY colleges is a whopping 59.7 percent higher than in 2000, when the university tightened its admission policy by phasing out open enrollment and eliminating remedial courses at its four-year institutions.

Looking farther back, the number of "A" graduates admitted is 83.9 percent higher than in 1990.

Meanwhile there were 9,257 applicants with GPAs of at least 85 admitted to CUNY - a 9.6 percent jump over last year and 75 percent higher than in 1990.

We think this uptick is fantastic. With the price of education skyrocketing, giving smart kids a means to stay in town and to give back to their city doesn't hurt either. And $4,000 a year seems pretty reasonable to us. Plus, if you go to the Honors College its free! Go CUNY!

Detail from photo by ShellySon flickr.