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America's Best Colleges: Forbes Magazine's Top 50 List

Williams College, Massachusetts, is America's Best College according to Forbes Magazine - Image courtesy of Ethan Kan
Williams College, Massachusetts, is America's Best College according to Forbes Magazine - Image courtesy of Ethan Kan
Princeton, Yale, Stanford, MIT, Amherst and Harvard are among America's Top 10 Colleges. But the number one school comes from outside the Ivy League.
According to Forbes Magazine’s 2010 survey of American’s best public and private colleges and universities, the best school is not drawn from the internationally renowned Ivy league schools of Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, Princeton, the University of Pennsylvania or Yale. Of the 610 schools surveyed in the special report, Williams College, a small private liberal arts college located in Massachusetts, was the number one-ranked school.
Interestingly, the survey – prepared by Forbes Magazine in conjunction with the Center for College Affordability and Productivity – took into account rankings found on the popular website ratemyprofessor.com. With 17.5% of the total score coming from data from ratemyprofessor.com, Professors and college administrators are likely to start taking a lot of notice of this website, which in the past may have been dismissed as a novelty or distraction. The reported salaries of alumni on payscale.com were also given high importance, making up 15% of the total score 

America’s Best Colleges and Universities: Top 50 List

  1. Williams College
  2. Princeton University
  3. Amherst College
  4. United States Military Academy
  5. Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  6. Stanford University
  7. Swarthmore College
  8. Harvard University
  9. Claremont McKenna College
  10. Yale University
  11. United States Air Force Academy
  12. Wellesley College
  13. Columbia University
  14. Haverford College
  15. Wesleyan University
  16. Whitman College
  17. Pomona College
  18. Northwestern University
  19. California Institute of Technology
  20. University of Chicago
  21. Carleton College
  22. Harvey Mudd College
  23. Vassar College
  24. Centre College
  25. Rice University
  26. Middlebury College
  27. Boston College
  28. Colgate University
  29. United States Naval Academy
  30. Dartmouth College
  31. Colby College
  32. Kenyon College
  33. University of Notre Dame
  34. Tufts University
  35. Smith College
  36. University of Pennsylvania
  37. Washington and Lee University
  38. Bryn Mawr College
  39. College of the Holy Cross
  40. Bowdoin College
  41. Duke University
  42. Wabash College
  43. Vanderbilt University
  44. University of Virginia
  45. Brown University
  46. College of William and Mary
  47. Rhodes College
  48. Davidson College
  49. Union College
  50. Lawrence University

America’s Best Colleges: The Cost of an Education

With just over 2,000 undergraduate students and a student to faculty ratio of 7 to 1, Williams College offers its students a unique and personalised educational experience. But it is an experience they must be prepared to pay for, with annual fees running at $49,530. The only college inside the Top 50 with fees of less than $38,000 (excluding military academies) was Wabash College in Indiana, with students expected to pay $37,500 each year. The most expensive college in America is Sarah Lawrence College in New York State. It also has one of the smallest student populations, with just 1,700 students enrolled at one time. 

Is Coastal Carolina University America’s Worst School?

Of the 610 universities and colleges included in the survey, Coastal Carolina University ranked in 610th place. Coastal Caroline University, which describes itself as ‘dynamic, public liberal arts institution located in Conway, just minutes from Myrtle Beach’ is an independent, state-supported university with just over 8,000 students. Despite its poor ranking, undergraduates will still pay heavily for their degrees with fees topping $30,000.

America’s Best Colleges and Universities: What Factors Matter?

The America’s Best Colleges 2010 study, completed by Forbes Magazine in conjunction with the Center for College Affordability and Productivity, aimed to evaluate the following important questions:
  • 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?
To answer these questions, the colleges and universities were examined against five key criteria areas:

No. 1: Student Satisfaction (27.5%)

Student Evaluations from RateMyProfessor.com (17.5%)

Freshman-to-Sophomore Retention Rates (5%)
Student Evaluations from MyPlan.com (5%)

No. 2: Postgraduate Success (30%)

Salary of Alumni from Payscale.com (15%)
Listings of Alumni in Who's Who in America (10%)
Alumni in Forbes/CCAP Corporate Officers List (5%)

No. 3: Student Debt (17.5%)

Four-year Debt Load for Typical Student Borrower (12.5%)
Student Loan Default Rates (5%)

No. 4: Four-year Graduation Rate (17.5%)

Actual Four-year Graduation Rate (8.75%)
Predicted vs. Actual Four-year Graduation Rate (8.75%)

No. 5: Competitive Awards (7.5%)

Student Nationally Competitive Awards (7.5%)

Sources

David M. Ewalt, 'America's Best Colleges',Forbes Magazine, 11 August 2010.
Center for College Affordability and Productivity staff, ‘The complete methodology for America's Best Colleges 2010,’ 11 August 2010.

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