The Top 15 Colleges Ranked (from 5 different sources)5 min read

In case you needed yet another set of ranking of the top colleges in the United States, here’s something different:

The Top 15 Colleges According To 5 Different Sources

U.S. News, Niche, Forbes, Business Insider, and StartClass all use different criteria in determining their list of top colleges, but when the results are averaged, a more complete list emerges.

  • U.S News focuses on the quality of the undergraduate education and resources available to students.
  • Forbes bases its rankings on more long-term and post-graduate quality of life.
  • Business Insider focuses heavily on post-graduation income and graduation rates.
  • Niche uses a more complicated system: it tries to find a balance between quantitative and qualitative qualities of each college, takes a z-score of the averages, then curves the average to a normal distribution curve.
  • StartClass ranks based on academic excellence, admissions selectivity, career readiness, financial affordability, and other sources.

Our list takes these 5 ranking systems and averages them to find the most balanced rankings possible.

15. Dartmouth College

Image result for dartmouth college

Dartmouth College is a private institution that was founded in 1769. It has a total undergraduate enrollment of 4,307, its setting is rural, and the campus size is 237 acres. It utilizes a quarter-based academic calendar. Its tuition and fees are $51,438 (2016-17), and the acceptance rate is 12%. The median annual income six years after graduation is $67,100.

 

14. California Institute of Technology

California Institute of Technology is a private institution that was founded in 1891. It has a total undergraduate enrollment of 1,001, its setting is suburban, and the campus size is 124 acres. It utilizes a quarter-based academic calendar. Its tuition and fees are $47,577 (2016-17), and the acceptance rate is 9%. The median annual income six years after graduation is $74,000.

 

13. Vanderbilt University

Vanderbilt University is a private institution that was founded in 1873. It has a total undergraduate enrollment of 6,883, its setting is urban, and the campus size is 333 acres. It utilizes a semester-based academic calendar. Its tuition and fees are $45,610 (2016-17), and the acceptance rate is 13%. The median annual income six years after graduation is $60,900.

 

12. Williams College

Williams College is a private institution that was founded in 1793. It has a total undergraduate enrollment of 2,099, its setting is rural, and the campus size is 450 acres. It utilizes a 4-1-4-based academic calendar. Its tuition and fees are $51,790 (2016-17), and the acceptance rate is 19%. The median annual income six years after graduation is $58,100.

 

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11. Brown University

Brown University is a private institution that was founded in 1764. It has a total undergraduate enrollment of 6,652, its setting is city, and the campus size is 146 acres. It utilizes a semester-based academic calendar. Its tuition and fees are $51,367 (2016-17), and the acceptance rate is 9%. The median annual income six years after graduation is $59,700.

 

10. Rice University

Rice University is a private institution that was founded in 1912. It has a total undergraduate enrollment of 3,910, its setting is urban, and the campus size is 285 acres. It utilizes a semester-based academic calendar. Its tuition and fees are $43,918 (2016-17), and the acceptance rate is 15%. The median annual income six years after graduation is $59,900.

 

9. University of Chicago

University of Chicago is a private institution that was founded in 1890. It has a total undergraduate enrollment of 5,844, its setting is urban, and the campus size is 217 acres. It utilizes a quarter-based academic calendar. Its tuition and fees are $52,491 (2016-17), and the acceptance rate is 9%. The median annual income six years after graduation is $62,800.

 

8. Duke University

Duke University is a private institution that was founded in 1838. It has a total undergraduate enrollment of 6,639, and the setting is Suburban. It utilizes a semester-based academic calendar. Its tuition and fees are $51,265 (2016-17), and the acceptance rate is 11%. The median annual income six years after graduation is $76,700.

 

7. Columbia University

Columbia University is a private institution that was founded in 1754. It has a total undergraduate enrollment of 6,102, its setting is urban, and the campus size is 36 acres. It utilizes a semester-based academic calendar. Its tuition and fees are $55,056 (2016-17), and the acceptance rate is 7%. The median annual income six years after graduation is $72,900.

 

6. University of Pennsylvania

University of Pennsylvania is a private institution that was founded in 1740. It has a total undergraduate enrollment of 9,726, its setting is urban, and the campus size is 302 acres. It utilizes a semester-based academic calendar. Its tuition and fees are $51,464 (2016-17), and the acceptance rate is 10%. The median annual income six years after graduation is $78,200.

 

5. Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Massachusetts Institute of Technology is a private institution that was founded in 1861. It has a total undergraduate enrollment of 4,527, its setting is urban, and the campus size is 168 acres. It utilizes a 4-1-4-based academic calendar. Its tuition and fees are $48,452 (2016-17), and the acceptance rate is 8%. The median annual income six years after graduation is $91,600.

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4. Yale University

Yale University is a private institution that was founded in 1701. It has a total undergraduate enrollment of 5,532, its setting is city, and the campus size is 343 acres. It utilizes a semester-based academic calendar. Its tuition and fees are $49,480 (2016-17), and the acceptance rate is 6%. The median annual income six years after graduation is $66,000.

 

3. Stanford University

Stanford University is a private institution that was founded in 1885. It has a total undergraduate enrollment of 6,999, its setting is suburban, and the campus size is 8,180 acres. It utilizes a quarter-based academic calendar. Its tuition and fees are $47,940 (2016-17), and the acceptance rate is 5%. The median annual income six years after graduation is $80,900.

 

2. Harvard University

Harvard University is a private institution that was founded in 1636. It has a total undergraduate enrollment of 6,699, its setting is urban, and the campus size is 5,076 acres. It utilizes a semester-based academic calendar. Its tuition and fees are $47,074 (2016-17), and the acceptance rate is 6%. The median annual income six years after graduation is $87,200.

 

1. Princeton University

Princeton University is a private institution that was founded in 1746. It has a total undergraduate enrollment of 5,402, its setting is suburban, and the campus size is 600 acres. It utilizes a semester-based academic calendar. Its tuition and fees are $45,320 (2016-17), and the acceptance rate is 7%. The median annual income six years after graduation is $75,100.


While these rankings do attempt to list the best colleges in order, the differences between the top 10 schools are extremely small. Rankings don’t account for the raw ratings of each schools, and as a result, quantifying the order of the top 10 schools is extremely difficult. Between these top colleges, much of the rankings are a matter of preference.

Take these with a grain of salt.

College information adapted from U.S. News and Niche

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