8/3/2011 12:01 PM ET|
America's top colleges for 2011
Forbes releases its annual lists of top-quality undergraduate institutions and colleges where you'll get the most value for your dollar.
Our annual ranking of the 650 best undergraduate institutions focuses on the things that matter the most to students: quality of teaching, great career prospects, graduation rates and low levels of debt.
Unlike other lists of top colleges, we pointedly ignore ephemeral measures such as school reputation and ill-conceived metrics that reward wasteful spending. We try to evaluate the college purchase as a consumer would: Is it worth spending as much as a quarter of a million dollars for this degree?
The rankings are prepared exclusively for Forbes by the Center for College Affordability and Productivity, a Washington, D.C., think tank founded by Ohio University economist Richard Vedder.
For the second year in a row, Williams College, a small liberal-arts school in Massachusetts, has been named as the best undergraduate institution in America. With total annual costs adding up to nearly $55,000, a Williams education is certainly not cheap, but the 2,000 undergraduates there have among the highest four-year graduation rates in the country, win loads of prestigious national awards like Rhodes and Marshall scholarships, and are often rewarded with high-paying careers.
In second place? Princeton University, which boasts nearly nonexistent student debt rates due to one of the most generous financial-aid programs in the nation. Outside of Princeton and Harvard (No. 6), Ivy League schools fare relatively poorly, suggesting that their reputations might be a bit overblown. Yale (No. 14), Brown (No. 21) and Dartmouth (No. 30) crack the top 5%, but the other Ivies -- Columbia (No. 42), Cornell (No. 51) and the University of Pennsylvania (No. 52) -- do not.
Because of our emphasis on financial prudence, the zero-cost military service academies rank highly. The U.S. Military Academy at West Point, which topped the list two years ago, ranks third this time, thanks to outstanding teaching and high alumni salaries, while the Air Force Academy (No. 10) and the Naval Academy (No. 17) glide easily into the top 20. Even the less-prestigious academies -- the Coast Guard (No. 97) and the Merchant Marine (No. 158) -- score well.
Aside from the academies, the highest-ranked public school is the University of Virginia (No. 46), followed closely by the College of William and Mary (No. 49) and UCLA (No. 55).
The rankings are based on five general categories: postgraduate success (30%), which evaluates alumni pay and prominence; student satisfaction (27.5%), which includes professor evaluations and freshman-to-sophomore retention rates; debt (17.5%), which penalizes schools for high student debt loads and default rates; four-year graduation rates (17.5%); and competitive awards (7.5%), which rewards schools whose students win prestigious scholarships and fellowships like the Rhodes, the Marshall and the Fulbright.
In addition to the overall rankings, the Center for College Affordability and Productivity also prepares a "value" ranking that takes into account the overall cost of each school as relative to the quality of the education provided. Predictably, the service academies also dominate this "best buy" list, nabbing the top three spots: West Point, the Air Force Academy and the Naval Academy, in that order.
New York City's Cooper Union, which grants full scholarships to every student, snags the No. 4 value slot (overall ranking: No. 154), with the College of the Ozarks (No. 6 in value, No. 191 overall) and the University of Wyoming (No. 10 in value, No. 361 overall) also giving students amazing value for their educational buck.
|Best colleges for the money: The top 10|
|Rank||School||Total annual cost||Student population||SAT range||Applicants admitted|
|1||U.S. Military Academy||Free||4,621||1140-1350||14%|
|2||U.S. Air Force Academy||Free||4,620||1230-1380||17%|
|3||U.S. Naval Academy||Free||4,552||1140-1360||10%|
|4||Cooper Union (N.Y.)||Free||995||1220-1510||7%|
|5||U.S. Merchant Marine Academy||$7,281||982||N/A||38%|
|6||College of the Ozarks (Mo.)||$8,776||1,347||N/A||9%|
|8||U.S. Coast Guard Academy||$4,600||973||1150-1360||25%|
|9||Brigham Young University, Idaho||$12,920||14,944||990-1230||97%|
|10||University of Wyoming||$24,886*||12,427||970-1220||97%|
|*Out-of-state tuition; in-state students pay $16,576|
See the full list of "best buy" colleges
|Forbes' best colleges: The top 10|
|Rank||School||Total annual cost||Student population||SAT range||Applicants admitted|
|3||U.S. Military Academy||Free||4,621||1140-1350||14%|
|8||University of Chicago||$57,590||15,094||1400-1560||27%|
|10||U.S. Air Force Academy||Free||4,620||1230-1380||17%|
|See the full list of America's best colleges|
VIDEO ON MSN MONEY
The military academies are not free...they require trading 4-6 years of your life.
To southern home builder:
You say that BYU "is ONLY a 'good value' for people willing to accept their (mormon) indoctrination."
Students attending BYU are not required to accept Mormon beliefs or doctrine. They are required to live BYU's honor code, however. That code stipulates things such things being honest, no premarital sex, etc. Adherence to LDS beliefs/doctrine is not required. You need to get your facts straight before posting comments on sites like this. BYU is a good school with high standards. For someone who wants to concentrate on learning and not partying, it's one of the best schools in the country.
And yet, here you are being the exact person who brought a religious topic into a discussion about education, and have continued into that for at least 1 other post. Most religions & even the NON religious call that behaviour for what it really is ..... hypocrisy. Learn to practice what you preach, not just put it in print.
And you quite obviously have NO actual knowledge of BYU. My degrees are from elsewhere & I'm not Mormon. But unlike you, I tolerate ALL beliefs, Mormon or otherwise, including yours, whatever it may be. And I also do not discriminate against non-believers, and don't spit hatred aimed at ANY of them.
I've visited that university in a formal capacity no less than three times, plus once more for an informal event. Your words concerning the school, including your attempt to tie the universities teachings into the Mormon religion, are quite simply based on ignorance & evidently personal hatred from the sound of it. Neither attribute brings anything positive to your ramblings ..... quite the opposite actually. It only shows you are willing to sacrifice truth in exchange for your personal feelings.
my son went to West Point for only two years,by far the best school and the best all around environment anyone could have for their child.I wished he finished up there and so does he now.
The data on which these rankings are based are supplied by the colleges themselves. Sometimes other professional academics are asked to evaluate a schools reputation. The procedure has been roundly criticized but it continues because it sells magazines.
What you get from college is much more a function of your own effort than of any characteristic of the college.
I'm a civil engineering student in my senior year. Infrastructure is a very broad term, so I can not comment on that subject. What I can contribute to is your reference toward bridges falling down, and roads crumbling. There are countless factors/functions that cause a pot hole, or a bridge to 'fail.' Understanding this, I will only point out a few.
Roads primarily fail because of the freeze thaw process. This only happens in regions where the temperature drops to 32 degrees or lower. There are many types of concrete mix designs, but each has a level or porosity. The porosity of a material is simply its ability to take on water through voids. Concrete is a porous material. Each time the voids freeze with water the concrete becomes weaker. Multiply this by how many times a road experiences freeze/thaw during the day. Then multiply that by how many winter days there are.
To add to this, the population is much larger than it was back in 1950. More people means more vehicles using the roads. Last is the increase of semi truck 'loads.' I am not sure what Iowa's maximum capacity of a trailer load but these contribute to 'failure.'
Population, maintenance, weather, concrete mix design, loads, sub grade design, rebar (steel/carbon fiber, etc), region. These are just a few factors...
Sorry if I did not use perfect punctuation. I apologize to MLA, APA, and Diana Hacker.
Von Hammer, although I have a dark sense of humor, and I am a smart ****, I refrained from it. Thank the education system for my 'professionalism.'
p.s. it's $118,800 for my civil engineering degree. at 900/crdt hour. I feel the pain..
It is amazing that such a fuss is being made about BYU I. It is a great college, but as all private colleges can and do, it sets its own standards. It is required that students take religion courses. It is true that all students have to live by a code of ethics, and it is true that there is a significant impact on the student body by the LDS church. IT IS THEIR COLLEGE!! Get over yourselves. If you think their religion is a cult, don't go there. If you think it is too restrictive, go to a different school. They are an extension of a great University, and are growing in reputation and student body. I have lived in Utah my whole life, and am not LDS. I have never yet seen a positive outcome from religion bashing at any level, including this site. While you are debating the religion aspect of this, have you ever wondered how Westminster College stays in business? The LDS church gives them 25% of their operating costs annually. Yes, its true. They do some really great things that they don't control. Westminster maintains it's liberal way of thinking and educating and has survived because the LDS church stepped up to help.
I find it interesting that my school, The University of Utah is not on that list? That is the question that begs to be asked and answered. Why isn't your school on this list? Why is a private school beating my public school. Could it be that there is something wrong with the system? Lets discuss the real issue. All of our public schools need to step up and compete.
The Military Academies are not "FREE" Last time I checked you have to serve at least 5 years after graduating depending on your service selection. My son is in his senior year at the USNA and constantly reminds us it's not "FREE".
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