America’s Best Colleges Ranked: Does your school make the cut?

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Last month, The Princeton Review released its annual rankings, which includes categories like “top party school” and “students pack the stadium.” But when it comes to academics, the authority is US News and World Report’s annual “America’s Best Colleges” ranking guide – which was just released.

Of the nearly 1,800 schools ranked, Princeton University held onto the top spot, with fellow Ivy League universities Harvard University and Yale University rounding out the top three. With the exception of Dartmouth College – which slipped from number 10 to 11 – the same schools that were in the top 10 last year remained the same. Of the rankings of National Liberal Arts Colleges, Williams College in Massachusetts held onto the top spot and was followed by fellow Bay State school Amherst College and Pennsylvania’s Swarthmore College.

To reach these conclusions, US News and World Report evaluates 16 measures of academic excellence, like graduation rates, selectivity and freshman retention. Despite the fact that parents, guidance counselors and high school students go crazy over the rankings, the list is met with skepticism by many people in the industry, who point out that we shouldn’t put much stock into little changes in the rankings, like Williams College slipping from fourth to seventh among liberal arts schools.

Notably, the New York Times also came out with its own list, a ranking of the most economically diverse schools in the country. This list breaks down schools’ efforts to bridge the education gap among high-achieving poor students and those who are of higher income brackets. According to the New York Times, Vassar reigns supreme in closing the education gap and is followed by Iowa-based Grinnell. The new ranking comes on the heels of a report that the money spent on college just might not be worth it.

So, what can we learn from all of these rankings? Ivies are still ridiculously hard to get into – and to afford. Small, liberal arts schools tend to value intellect and creativity over money. And if you want to go to a top 50 school, expect to pay for that fancy degree.

What do you think? Is the US News list important and did it factor into your decisions when applying to schools?

Gabe Coley

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