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U.S. News College Rankings 2011 Are Out!

Aug 17, 2010

U.S. News and World Report released their 2011 college rankings this morning. Read on to discover this year's top national universities and liberal arts colleges, as well as the best schools at the lowest prices.

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Rankings & Reputation

Reputation-based college rankings are highly controversial. Education researchers have pointed out that they're circular - the higher a school's ranking, the better its reputation, which in turn raises its rank. Furthermore, many people question the methodology of most popular ranking systems. They draw on a combination of self-reported data that is easily manipulated and 'reputation' assessments from education administrators who are often seen as insiders set on supporting the status quo. In response, several organizations have published alternative ranking systems such as 'What Will They Learn,' a site that bases its rankings on schools' actual curricula.

Nevertheless, certain ranking systems continue to be wildly popular. Perhaps the most influential college rankings in the country come from U.S. News and World Report, who published their Best Colleges 2011 this morning. The magazine separates schools into categories such as national universities, liberal arts colleges and regional colleges and universities. Schools in each category are then ranked based on 16 differently weighted 'indicators of academic excellence.' The organization also ranks school for more specific factors, such as the best business programs, best undergraduate teaching and the best schools for a great price.

Although U.S. News acknowledges that there are other important factors in the college selection process - course and program offerings, location, campus life, financial aid, etc. - they bill the rankings as 'powerful tool' in your college search. And whether or not prospective students are actually relying on them to choose the right school, members of the higher education community still eagerly await their annual release. Read on to see which schools topped the list this year.

Want more information from college rankings? Keep an eye on Study.com for information on What Will They Learn, a qualitative college and university ranking service.

Harvard University Campus

Top 25 National Universities

  1. Harvard University, Cambridge, MA
  2. Princeton University, Princeton, NJ
  3. Yale University, New Haven, CT
  4. Columbia University, New York, NY
  5. Stanford University, Stanford, CA
  6. University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA
  7. California Institute of Technology, Pasadenca, CA
  8. Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA
  9. Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH
  10. Duke University, Durham, NC
  11. University of Chicago, Chicago, IL
  12. Northwestern University, Evanston, IL
  13. Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD
  14. Washington University in St. Louis, St. Louis, MO
  15. Brown University, Providence, RI
  16. Cornell University, Ithaca, NY
  17. Rice University, Houston, TX
  18. Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN
  19. University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, IN
  20. Emory University, Atlanta, GA
  21. Georgetown University, Washington, D.C.
  22. University of California--Berkeley, Berkeley, CA
  23. Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA
  24. University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA
  25. University of California--Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA

Williams College Campus

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  • Liberal Arts and Humanities
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Top 25 National Liberal Arts Colleges

  1. Williams College, Williamstown, MA
  2. Amherst College, Amherst, MA
  3. Swarthmore College, Swarthmore, PA
  4. Middlebury College, Middlebury, VT
  5. Wellesley College, Wellesley, MA
  6. Bowdoin College, Brunswick, ME
  7. Pomona College, Claremont, CA
  8. Carleton College, Northfield, MN
  9. Davidson College, Davidson, NC
  10. Haverford College. Haverford, PA
  11. Claremont McKenna College, Claremont, CA
  12. Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, NY
  13. Wesleyan University, Middletown, CT
  14. Smith College, Northampton, MA
  15. Washington and Lee University, Lexington, VA
  16. United States Military Academy, West Point, NY
  17. United States Naval Academy, Annapolis, MD
  18. Grinnell College, Grinnell, IA
  19. Hamilton College, Clinton, NY
  20. Harvey Mudd College, Claremont, CA
  21. Bates College, Lewiston, ME
  22. Colgate University, Hamilton, NY
  23. Colby College, Waterville, ME
  24. Oberlin College, Oberlin, OH
  25. Scripps College, Claremont, CA

College Spending

Bang For Your Buck

Is cost a major concern for you in college selection? It is for most people - tuition is up, the economy is down and students all over the country are struggling to finance their education. With a nod to the fact that most students need to balance school quality with sticker price, U.S. News has also released the top 'Good Deals' in both national universities and national liberal arts colleges. The magazine defines a 'good deal' as a school that's in or near the top half of its category in academic quality but still has a high quality to price ratio based on the net cost of attendance in 2009-2010 for a student who received the average level of need-based aid. Although many of these schools have high tuition prices, they compensate by offering exceptional financial aid packages for needy students.

Yale University Campus

Top 10 Best Value National Universities

  1. Yale University, New Haven, CT
  2. Harvard University, Cambridge, MA
  3. Princeton University, Princeton, NJ
  4. Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA
  5. Stanford University, Stanford, CA
  6. Columbia University, New York, NY
  7. Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH
  8. California Institute of Technology, Pasadenca, CA
  9. Duke University, Durham, NC
  10. Cornell University, Ithaca, NY

Amherst College Campus

Top 10 Best Value National Liberal Arts Colleges

  1. Amherst College, Amherst, MA
  2. Williams College, Williamstown, MA
  3. Wellesley College, Wellesley, MA
  4. Pomona College, Claremont, CA
  5. Swarthmore College, Swarthmore, PA
  6. Hamilton College, Clinton, NY
  7. Grinnell College, Grinnell, IA
  8. Bowdoin College, Brunswick, ME
  9. Claremont McKenna College, Claremont, CA
  10. University of Richmond, Richmond, VA
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