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Official College Rankings: A Students Best Friend

Each year, the United States News and World report issues college rankings. These ranking lists are the most popular and are the officially recognized university rankings for all American colleges and universities. These college rankings are divided into multiple sections: National Universities Top Schools (public and private) Top Public Schools Most Diverse Liberal Arts Colleges Top Schools (public and private) Top Public Schools Most Diverse Best Values National Universities Liberal Arts Colleges Within each of these categories the colleges have been assessed by location, value, subject and school type to produce the final college rankings. These are often used by potential students and their parents to ascertain which of the colleges they most wish to apply for. The college rankings may seem simplified but they do give a good starting point in the overwhelming process of searching for the perfect college. To produce the college rankings each school is assigned to one of the above groups.

The National Universities group for 2005 includes 248 American universities (162 public and 86 private) that offer a wide range of undergraduate majors as well as master's and doctoral degrees. Within each category the data on up to 15 indicators of academic quality are gathered from each school and tabulated to form the final college rankings for the National Universities. It is worth noting that specialty schools and those with enrolments below 200 are not included in the college rankings. The Liberal Arts Colleges section of the college rankings include 215 liberal arts colleges that emphasize undergraduate education and award at least 50 percent of their degrees in the liberal arts. Most of these colleges included in the college rankings are private institutions.

The final section of the college rankings produced by the U. News is the Best Value category. The particular formula used to determine which schools offer the best value relates a school's academic quality that is judged by its position in the overall college rankings to the net cost of attendance for a student who receives the average level of financial aid. Obviously, the higher the quality of the program and the lower the cost, the better the deal and the higher up the best value college rankings a school will appear. The limitation to the best value college rankings is that the U. News only takes the schools that are placed in the top half of the full college rankings to assess with this formula. However, these college rankings do provide a good reference for the value of money of the more academically strong colleges.


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