Using criteria like academic citations and Nobel prizes, a Chinese university in 2008 gave 17 of the top 20 rankings to American universities (Labaree p.3 ). This author credits the US success to their stratification pyramid of institutions, with the broad lower base providing access for many and the apex exclusive to the elite. He divides US colleges into 4 tiers. In the top tier “are the most influential, prestigious, well funded, exclusive, research-productive, and graduate-oriented universities in the world.”. The second tier that emerged from land grant colleges, “expand access to a broader array of students and offers programs with practical application such as agriculture and engineering” The third category evolved from normal schools to train teachers, in stages, to regional state universities. In this tier I would also include for profit universities. Finally, in the forth tier are the 2 year community colleges, used by some students as a cheaper and more accessible route to upper tier institutions. Religious and liberal arts colleges have their own stratification parallel to the above. The American system, especially the for profit universities, is more market oriented than the European. With less state funding, US institutions generally rely more heavily on tuition, endowments and corporate donations. Especially now, the top tier with its higher academic scholarship and prestige is more likely to attract theses resources than the more egalitarian lower ones.