Is University of California-San Diego the nation’s best college?

Posted on August 28th, 2013

In his recent visit to Buffalo and Upstate New York, President Obama proposed his plan to rate colleges on performance and tie the amount of federal aid colleges get to these ratings.

You’re probably familiar with the U.S. News & World Report’s annual ranking of best colleges. Their ranking system, however, has been criticized for favoring prestige and institutional wealth over how well the school serves its students.

The President’s ranking system would be based on a mix of value and performance, rather than overall prestige. This methodology is actually very similar to the one Washington Monthly has been using for years to rate colleges.

We recently covered the Washington Monthly’s list of “Best Bang for the Buck” colleges and universities in America. These rankings had stricter criteria related to affordability for students from families with income levels below $75,000.

The publication’s overall rankings, however, are based on a school’s contribution to the public good in three broad categories:

  • Social Mobility (recruiting and graduating low-income students),
  • Research (producing cutting-edge scholarship and PhDs), and
  • Service (encouraging students to give something back to their country).

According to the Washington Monthly’s methodology, here are the Top 15 National Universities in in the U.S.:

Top 15 National Universities Washington Monthly

And here are the Top 15 U.S. Liberal Arts Colleges:

Top 15 Liberal Arts Colleges Washington Monthly

There’s no perfect way to rank colleges, but we’re glad to see lesser known schools that provide a quality education finally get some recognition for their ability to attract low-income students, graduate students on time, and contribute to society through academic research.

You can check out the full list here.

What do you think of the rankings and the publication’s methodology and rankings? Will it factor into your college search and decision? Let us know in the comments below, write on our Facebook wall, or tweet us at @CFGCollege.

Category: Choosing a College

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