college rankings

college rankings

Which College Town is Right for You?

There are already plenty of questions to consider when deciding where to go to college. Which school is the best for your program? How much can you afford to spend? How far from or close to home do you want to be?

Though those may cover the basics, some consideration should also be given to what kind of place your college or university is in. Are you looking for a quaint, quirky college town? Or are you looking for a little city within a big city kind of feel with your campus?

Source: WalletHub

Tons of options are out there, and the choice can be overwhelming. Thankfully, the folks at the personal finance site WalletHub have created a list of the best and worst college cities and towns in America. They reviewed 280 cities across 23 different metrics like quality of higher education, crime rates, cost of living, and average monthly cost of purchases students are most likely to make.

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Here are the Top 10 Universities, According to U.S. News

Love ’em or hate ’em the annual U.S. Rankings of the country’s universities have been revealed. Though many accuse the rankings of being an outdated system where the same schools always rise to the top, they can be an interesting way to compare some of the many institutions of higher education in the country.


Though you really can’t narrow the college experience down to a few measurable data points, the people behind the U.S. News rankings try their best to determine what combination of factors creates the nation’s top schools. Factors considered include student retention, faculty resources, student selectivity, financial resources, alumni giving, and graduation rates.

Based on those factors and more, here are the top 10 American universities for 2015.

10. California Institute of Technology
Tuition and fees (2014-2015): $43,362
Enrollment: 977
The student-to-faculty ratio at the California Institute of Technology is 3:1. Its students are actively involved in research projects with NASA, the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

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Top 10 Colleges and Universities from U.S. for 2012 News

U.S. News College Rankings IconEach year, U.S. News releases rankings of the top universities around the country. Although many education experts question the value of college rankings, most schools use these rankings a marketing tool. The list of best colleges is almost unvaryingly topped with Ivy League institutions, followed by highly competitive technical universities, such as MIT and CalTech. The rankings are determined by a number of criteria, including student matriculation rate, class size and the average ACT/SAT score of the student body.

This year, California Institute of Technology and Massachusetts Institute of Technology both rose from the 2011 rankings, in an odd tie between five universities for the fifth position.

Here are the top 10 Colleges, according to U.S. News:

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2011 Best Values in Public Colleges

University of North CarolinaThis list from Kiplinger is based on entirely measurable criteria, including student-faculty rations, admission rates, on-time graduation rate, tuition and the cost of room and board. It considers traditional four-year programs with broad-based curricula, which excludes military academies and other specialized programs.

The Top 25 Best Values:

1. University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

2. University of Florida, Gainesville

3. University of Virginia, Charlottesville

4. College of William and Mary, Williamsburg

5. University of Maryland, College Park

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The Best Community Colleges in the U.S.

community-collegeWhile much attention is paid to the Forbes and U.S. News college rankings each year, the schools represented by these lists are predominately expensive, private institutions that only serve the most elite students, and in many cases, the most wealthy. Such rankings can do little to help the majority of Americans, who are no less deserving of an excellent higher education.

Washington Monthly undertakes a different kind of college ranking: community colleges. Nearly half of all American students begin their path to higher education at two-year institutions. The magazine argues that expense and selectivity are not the most important factors in providing a meaningful college education.

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Why You Should Throw Out College Rankings

Colletrash-college-rankingsge rankings are good for selling magazines and college guide books, but are they good for students? Most likely not. “No current ranking system of colleges and universities directly measures the most critical point—student performance and learning,” said former Secretary of Eduction Margaret Spellings. Not only are the various criteria for rankings debatable, they often do little to help students understand what kinds of programs are compatible with their learning styles, interests, social lives and financial needs.

Each Ranking Has Bias

There is no numerical value that can describe a college. So reviewers have to invent various types of criteria that can be quantified. Some of these criteria are fairly straight forward: tuition, acceptance rate, teacher to student ratio. Firstly, how much these factors impact the student experience is debatable, and the weight each criterion is given is subjective. Secondly, there are kinds of criteria that must be gathered from answers that are themselves subjective.

U.S. News values the number of full-time professors, financial resources, graduate performance, and alumni giving. While this is valid data, it is also favors colleges that have big endowments and wealthy student bodies. On the other hand, Forbes claims to rank colleges from the student’s perspective. This leads to a bias towards schools where students’ values cohere closely with those of the college. While this is not a bad thing, neither is ideological diversity. Just because students see faults in their college or have disagreements with the administration doesn’t mean that they are receiving a poor education.

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Forbes Ranks the Top U.S. Colleges from the Students’ Perspective

williams-college-best-in-USThe results are in, and Williams College has been ranked the number one college in America by Forbes. Each ranking system uses different criteria to determine the top colleges, and Forbes attempts to rank the best schools from the student’s point of view. “Students have varying tastes, preferences, academic abilities and financial situations, so the ‘best’ school for each student depends not only on overall quality as measured by rankings such as this one, but other considerations specific to individual students,” they explain.

Here is what Forbes consider the most important criteria:

  • Do students enjoy their classes and overall academic experience?
  • Do graduates succeed well in their occupations after college?
  • Do most students graduate in a timely fashion, typically four years?
  • Do students incur massive debts while in schools?
  • Do students succeed in distinguishing themselves academically?

Here are the top ten results:

1. Williams College

2. Princeton University

3. Amherst College Read the rest of this entry »

The Princeton Review Names University of Georgia Top Party School

2011-biggest-party-schoolsTo be named on one of The Princeton Review lists is usually a boon to colleges and universities, but this one may not be. The 2011 list of biggest party schools is out, and a spot of the list is decidedly a mixed blessing in the eyes of administrators. Although students may be attracted to the social life promised by a big party school, the reputation may have negative connotations for a university’s prestige as an institution of higher learning. The University of Georgia heads the list, followed by Ohio University, which also ranked on the “Lots of Beer” and “Lots of Hard Liquor” lists.

The schools are ranked based on surveys of the popularity of the Greek system, the use of drugs and alcohol and the number of hours students spend studying.

Here’s the top ten list:

1. University of Georgia

2. Ohio University

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College is Yours, in 600 Words or Less is a Fresh College Guide


UPDATE [10/18/2011]: An updated edition of College Is Yours by Patrick O’Connor is now available under the title College Is Yours 2.0.

Applying to college can seem like such a daunting and overwhelming task that many students don’t fully consider which school is really right for them. Students often obsess over getting into the “top school,” without finding out if that university or college has an academic and social environment that will suit them. College is Yours, in 600 Words or Less by Patrick O’Connor is the college guide that will help students find the college where they will actually be happy. Read the rest of this entry »

The Best and Worst Green Colleges of 2009

green just released its annual report card for how sustainable college campuses are. They compared the greenness of 332 schools. No one received a solid A, while 26 scored an A-, and about half the schools received at least a B-. More than half the schools received a higher grade than they had in previous reports, showing forward momentum on the part of colleges to become more sustainable, with 13 percent receiving a lesser grade. grades the colleges on the following criteria:

  • Administration
  • Climate change and energy
  • Food and recycling
  • Green buildings
  • Student involvement
  • Transportation
  • Endowment transparency
  • Investment priorities
  • Shareholder engagement

The 26 Overall College Sustainability Leaders, or the Greenest Colleges, all scoring an A-, are:

Amherst College

Arizona State University

Brown University

University of California – San Diego

Carleton College Read the rest of this entry »


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