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The 2017 edition of the U.S. News Best Colleges guidebook offers comprehensive advice for high school students and their families on researching their college choices, drawing up a smart shortlist, putting together a slam-dunk application and finding the money to pay the bills. Find out what programs to look for that will raise your chances of thriving at college, the many ways to wow the admissions office and how to negotiate the best possible financial aid package. You’ll also get our latest exclusive college rankings. Discover the country's best universities, liberal arts colleges, regional colleges and universities, historically black colleges and universities, and undergraduate engineering and business programs.
• A look at accelerated degree programs as a way to cut costs and save time
• What if you get an acceptance for spring semester?
• Profiles: How 8 recent high school grads navigated the college-application process
• A calendar of important tasks for the college-bound student
• Take a road trip with U.S. News to 12 colleges and universities in Colorado, Connecticut, Mississippi and Louisiana
• 8 things admission deans want you to know, including how to write a winning essay
• State-by-state directory profiling nearly 1,600 schools
For more than 30 years, U.S. News’ “Best” publications have been the definitive consumer guides to higher education in the United States. Teen Vogue said that U.S. News Best Colleges "is widely regarded as the authority on how a school stacks up against its competitors." And as The Washington Post noted, “You can’t pass up the granddaddy of college rankings.”
Note: Advertisements from universities and other reputable organizations enable us to offer this valuable guidebook at an affordable price. Advertisements do not influence current or future rankings.
About the Author
U.S. News and World Report is a multi-platform publisher of news and analysis, which includes a multi-faceted web site (with 28 million visitors per month) and annual guidebooks on Best Colleges, Best Graduate Schools, and Best Hospitals. Focusing on Health, Money, Education, Travel, Cars, and Public Service/Opinion, U.S. News has earned a reputation as the leading provider of service news and information that improves the quality of life of its readers. U.S. News and World Report's signature franchises includes its News You Can Use® brand of journalism and its Best series of consumer guides that include rankings of colleges, graduate schools, hospitals, mutual funds, diets, health plans, and more.
Anne McGrath is the managing editor of U.S. News & World Report's publications. She has created and implemented the editorial vision for numerous editions of U.S. News' annual "Best" guidebooks such as Best Colleges, Best Graduate Schools, and Best Hospitals as well as editing such U.S. News publications as A Parent's Guide to STEM and U.S. News Ultimate Guide to Law Schools. A former high school English teacher, Anne's experience as a magazine journalist includes extensive coverage of education, health, personal finance, and investing.
Robert J. Morse ischief data strategistfor U.S. News & World Report and has worked at the company since 1976. He develops the methodologies and surveys U.S. News' annual education rankings, such as Best Colleges, Best Graduate Schools, and Best Global Universities. Bob keeps a close eye on higher-education trends to make sure the rankings offer prospective students the best analysis available. He is a frequently quoted authority on quality measurements in education.
Dr. Lynn F. Jacobs is an award-winning professor of Art History at the University of Arkansas and co-creator of the Professors' Guide books and articles. She and her husband, Jeremy S. Hyman have co-authored such books as "The Secrets of College Success," "The Secrets of Picking a College (and Getting In!)," and "Professors' Guide to Getting Good Grades in College." Jacobs and Hyman write a weekly Professors' Guide column for usnews.com and are frequent speakers at college orientations and first-year experience classes.
Jeremy S. Hyman founder and chief architect of the Professsors' Guide series of books and articles. An expert in Early Modern Philosophy, Jeremy has taught at the University of Arkansas, UCLA, MIT, and Princeton University. He received the University of California Regents award for distinguished teaching. He and his wife, Dr. Lynn F. Jacobs, have co-authored such books as "The Secrets of College Success," "The Secrets of Picking a College (and Getting In!)," and "Professors' Guide to Getting Good Grades in College." Jacobs and Hyman write a weekly Professors' Guide column for usnews.com and are frequent speakers at college orientations and first-year experience classes.
Ned Johnson is founder of and tutor-geek at PrepMatters (prepmatters.com), where, along with colleagues, he torments teens with test prep, educational counseling, and general attempts to help them thrive. He is the co-author of "Conquering the SAT: How Parents Can Help Teens Overcome the Pressure and Succeed." Ned is a sought-after speaker on best practices of study skills, sleep deprivation, parent-teen dynamics and test anxiety.
Arlene Weintraub is a science journalist and author with 20years of experience writing about healthcare, pharmaceuticals and biotechnology. Her newbook,Heal: The Vital Role of Dogs in the Search for Cancer Cures (ECW Press2015), bringsto life the world of comparative oncology and the many ways dogs are helping in the war on cancer. Her first book,Selling the Fountain of Youth(Basic Books2010), is an expose on the anti-aging industry.
Margaret Loftus is an award-winning journalist, editor, and content creator specializing in food, travel, higher education, and healthcare. She has worked for a variety of print and digital media outlets including U.S. News & World Report, NationalGeographic.com, and Virtuoso Life magazine. She is a contributingn editor for National Geographic Traveler.
Courtney Rubin was for five years a London-based staff writer forPeoplemagazine. She has reported stories on six continents, in countries including Afghanistan, Cambodia, and Indonesia. Rubin, a former senior writer forWashingtonianmagazine, has written for theNew York Timesmagazine,U.S. News & World Report's guidebooks, Time,Marie Claire,The Guardianand other publications. She is the author ofThe Weight-Loss Diaries(McGraw-Hill, 2004).
Beth Brophy is a Washington writer of fiction and non-fiction whose books include "Reunion," "My Ex-Best Friend: A Novel of Suburbia," and "Everything College Didn’t Teach You About Money," She is co-author of "The Complete Book of Aunts" and contributor to the anthology "Mommy Wars." Brophy was a reporter in the Washington bureau of Forbes, a founding business reporter and columnist at USA Today, and a writer and editor at U.S. News and World Report. Her articles, essays and book reviews have appeared in numerous publications including: AARP Bulletin, The The Washington Post, TV Guide, Washingtonian, Kiplinger, Business Week, Ladies Home Journal, and Good Housekeeping.
Brian Kelly is the Editor and Chief Content Officer of U.S. News & World Report, who guided the former newsweekly magazine through its transition into a major multimedia source of news and consumer information in such "life decision" fields as education, health care, and personal finances. A former Washington Post senior editor, Brian is the author or co-author of four books "Amazon," "The Last Forest: The Amazon in the Age of Globalization," "Adventures in Porkland:: How Washington Wastes Your Money and Why They Won't Stop," and "The Four Little Dragons."
Table of Contents
From the Editor’s Desk
Chapter One: Study the Schools
A Focus on Freshman Success: Many schools are working harder to help ease the transition to college life. Programs to consider
A Degree and Job Skills, Too : As you research colleges, consider how well each will prepare you for the workplace
Two Years, No Tuition? A move toward free community college has begun
A Sense of Belonging: There can be great appeal in attending one of the country’s minority-serving institutions, colleges that aim to provide educational opportunities and support for students in a given group
The Fast Track to a Degree: A look at three-year bachelor’s programs and accelerated graduate degrees
Is a Military Academy Right for You? You can get a first-class education and your tuition paid for if you’re willing to serve
Chapter Two: Take a Road Trip
Colorado: University of Colorado–Boulder, University of Denver, Colorado School of Mines, Colorado College
Connecticut: Yale University, Wesleyan University, University of Connecticut, Connecticut College
Louisiana & Mississippi: Xavier University of Louisiana, Tulane University, Millsaps College, University of Mississippi
WHY I PICKED...
California Institute of Technology l Truman State University l Rutgers University
Creighton University l Rice University l Colby College
Gonzaga University l Stetson University l Vassar College
Chapter Three: The U.S. News Rankings
How We Rank Colleges
Best National Universities
Best National Liberal Arts Colleges
Best Regional Universities
Best Regional Colleges
Best Historically Black Colleges
Best Business Programs
Best Engineering Programs
Best Online Degree Programs
Chapter Four: Getting In
8 Ways to Stand Out From the Crowd: Experts share their tips on how to impress admissions. Plus: Two student essays that worked
A+ Schools for B Students: Some great options for good students
What if You Get a Spring Start? An offer of admission for second semester may well be worth taking
We Did It! How eight Tampa high school seniors chose their colleges and got accepted
Your College Search To-Do List: A smart four-year plan to help you prepare to apply and make the cut
Chapter Five: Finding the Money
Financial Aid Secrets: 9 key tips on getting a great package
Plus: Sports scholarships and how three students are covering their costs
Scholarships for Scientists: Check out these awards for STEM students
Great Schools, Great Prices
The Payback Picture: Schools whose graduates leave with the most (and least) debt
Directory and Index of U.S. Colleges
By Brian Kelly, Editor and Chief Content Officer of U.S. News
This college search thing can be a little intimidating, especially if you're going through it for the first time. This is our 32nd go-round at U.S. News, so we feel like we've got some experience worth sharing.
Over the years, we've improved our Information and sharpened our focus, with our primary objective being to help students and their parents make one of life's most important - and costliest - decisions. Prospective students and their parents need objective measures that allow them to evaluate and compare schools. The U.S. News rankings are one tool to help them make choices, along with all the other insights and guidance contained in these pages. This sort of assistance is more relevant than ever, with some private colleges now costing around $250,000 for a bachelor's degree. At the same time, many public high school have greatly reduced their college counseling resources, leaving students and parents to educate themselves about the search and admission process.
Of course, we have adjusted our ranking methodology over the years to reflect changes in the world of higher education, and we make it clear that we are not doing peer-reviewed social science although we do maintain very high survey and data standards. We have always been open and transparent. We have always said that the rankings are not perfect. The first were based solely on schools' academic reputation among leaders at peer institutions; we later developed a formula in which reputation accounts for 22.5 percent of a school's score and important quantitative measures such as graduation and retention rates, average class size and student-faculty ratios account for the rest. Over time, we have shifted weight from inputs (indicators of the quality of students and resources) to outputs (success in graduating students). We operate under this guiding principle: The methodology is altered only if a change will better help our readers and web audience compare schools as they're deciding where to apply and enroll.
It has helped us a great deal to have these principles to focus on as we have faced the inevitable criticisms from academia about our rankings’ growing influence. One main critique remains: that it is impossible to reduce the complexities of a college’s offerings and attributes to a single number. It’s important to keep in mind that our information is a starting point. The next steps in a college search should include detailed research on a smaller list of choices, campus visits and conversations with students, faculty and alumni wherever you can find them. Feedback from academia has helped improve the rankings over time. We meet with our critics, listen to their points of view, debate them on the merits of what we do, and make appropriate changes.
U.S. News is keenly aware that the higher education community is also a major audience for our rankings. We understand how seriously academics, college presidents, trustees and governing boards take our data. They study, analyze and use them in various ways, including benchmarking against peers, alumni fundraising, and advertising to attract students.
What does all of this mean in today’s global information marketplace? U.S. News has become a respected unbiased source that higher education administrators and policymakers and the college-bound public worldwide turn to for reliable guidance. In fact, the Best Colleges rankings have become a key part of the evolving higher education accountability movement. Universities are increasingly being held responsible for their policies, how their funds are spent, the level of student engagement, and how much graduates have learned. The U.S. News rankings have become the annual public benchmark to measure the academic performance of the country’s colleges and universities.
We know our role has limits. The rankings should only be used as one factor in the college search – we’ve long said that there is no single “best college.” There is only the best college for you or, more likely, a handful of good options, one of which will turn out to be a great fit. Besides the rankings, we can help college-bound high school students and their parents by providing a wealth of information on all aspects of the application process, from getting in to getting financial aid. Our website, usnews.com, features thousands of pages of rankings, research, sortable data, photos, videos and a personalized tool called College Compass.
We’ve been doing this for over three decades, so we know the process is not simple. But our experience tells us the hard work is worth it in the end.