U.S. News & World Report today announced the 2017 Best Colleges rankings to help students worldwide compare the academic quality of more than 1,800 U.S.-based schools. Princeton University remains No. 1 in the Best National Universities category. For the 14th consecutive year, Williams College takes the top spot on the Best National Liberal Arts Colleges list.
California schools and military academies make a strong showing on the Top Public Schools lists. University of California—Berkeley is the No. 1 Top Public School among National Universities for the 19th year; the United States Naval Academy is the No. 1 Top Public School among National Liberal Arts Colleges.
The U.S. News rankings aim to focus on academic excellence, with schools ranked on up to 15 measures of academic quality. Overall, the rankings emphasize student outcomes–including graduation and retention rates–which carry the most weight at 30 percent. The top National Universities and National Liberal Arts Colleges had significantly higher graduation and freshman retention rates than other schools:
- The average six-year graduation rate is 95 percent for the top 10 National Universities and 93.9 percent for the top 10 National Liberal Arts Colleges.
- The average freshman retention rate is 98.1 percent for the top 10 National Universities and 96.6 percent for the top 10 National Liberal Arts Colleges.
- For comparison, the average six-year graduation rate among all numerically ranked schools on the National Universities list is 71.3 percent, and the average freshman retention rate is 86.9 percent.
- For comparison, the average six-year graduation rate among all numerically ranked schools on the National Liberal Arts Colleges list is 75.2 percent, and the average freshman retention rate is 85.6 percent.
“I encourage parents and students to use the wealth of data and information in Best Colleges to identify schools that suit their specific needs,” said Brian Kelly, editor and chief content officer of U.S. News. “In addition to considering factors like location and cost, families should pay close attention to graduation and retention rates. These are important indicators of how well a school supports its students both academically and financially. Getting into a good school means nothing if you cannot graduate.”
School profiles include specifics on academic life, financial aid, student body makeup and more. Students can research schools with the most Economic Diversity and Campus Ethnic Diversity, as well as the Most International Students. The rankings also encompass the Best Colleges for Veterans, Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Most Innovative Schools and a list of the A-plus Schools for B Students. For students with specific career paths in mind, U.S. News ranks the top schools in undergraduate engineering and business.
(Next page: What’s new this year in the U.S. News Rankings and Methodology; Best Colleges lists)