The new college rankings mark a shift in methodology that focuses not such much on admission standards but on how well students can expect to be prepared for life after commencement.
A college education is one of the most important--and costly--investments families may choose to make in their children and college rankings are an increasingly important resource for parents trying to make the most informed decision.
U.S. News & World Report, which has been ranking colleges for 30 years, and the more “down and dirty” Daily Beast recently issued their annual college rankings. Both give the highest marks to such perennially top-ranked institutions as Princeton, Yale, Harvard, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Williams College and Stanford University.
But the lists mark a shift in methodology that focuses not such much on admission standards but on how well students can expect to be prepared for life after commencement. Among the criteria used in compiling the 2013 Daily Beast rankings include future earnings, quality of education, affordability and on-time graduation (along with nightlife, sports and campus housing and dining quality)
The 2014 U.S. News & World Report rankings, too, “place more emphasis on student outcomes,” the magazine noted in a statement. “Measuring outcomes is critical to understanding how well a school retains and educates it students.” For example, this year’s rankings gave increased consideration of graduation rate performance.
Despite its soaring costs, college is still considered to be a good value. A 2012 Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce report found a direct correlation between higher education and earning potential. Other recent studies also find that while a college degree is generally associated with higher earnings, there are several factors that influence those potential earnings, including what degree a graduate achieves, the school that awarded that degree, and the field in which the degree is earned. In short: some majors pay better than others.
What schools made the grade this year? According to U.S. News & World Report, the top 10 schools are:
· Stanford/University of Chicago
· Duke University/Massachusetts Institute of Technology/University of Pennsylvania
· California Institute of Technology/Dartmouth
The Daily Beast’s top 10 schools with the best return on investment are;
· Harvey Mudd College
· Massachusetts Institute of Technology
· California Institute of Technology
· Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art
· Stanford University
· Princeton University
· University of California-Berkeley
· Stevens Institute of Technology
· Colgate University
Donald Liebenson writes news and features for Millionaire Corner. He has been published in the Chicago Tribune, The Chicago Sun-Times, The Los Angeles Times, Fiscal Times, Entertainment Weekly, Huffington Post, and other outlets. He has also served as a marketing writer for Chicago-based Questar Entertainment and distributor Baker & Taylor.
A graduate of the University of Southern California, he is married with a college-age son. He also writes extensively about entertainment.