Forbes names 'Top Colleges' 2017

On Wednesday, Forbes released several lists of top colleges based on qualifications such as best value, best return on investment, and campus life.

Forbes says their rankings stand out by focusing on factors that their brand values most: entrepreneurship, success, and the consumer experience.   

How are ROI concerns impacting students' enrollment decisions?

To determine the top overall colleges, researchers analyzed schools along five weighted categories:

  • Post-graduate success (35%)
  • Student debt (20%)
  • Student experience (20%)
  • Graduation rate (12.5%)
  • Academic success (12.5%)

To compile the list, researchers used data from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System, the Department of Education’s College Scorecard, Payscale and Niche.

*Note to readers: EAB congratulates member institutions that were named on the lists. Member institutions listed here are marked with an asterisk.

The top 20 'Top Colleges'

  1. Harvard University*
  2. Stanford University
  3. Yale University
  4. Princeton University*
  5. Massachusetts Institute of Technology*
  6. California Institute of Technology*
  7. University of Pennsylvania*
  8. Duke University*
  9. Brown University*
  10. Pomona College*
  11. Claremont McKenna College
  12. Dartmouth College
  13. Williams College
  14. Columbia University*
  15. Cornell University*
  16. University of Chicago*
  17. Amherst College
  18. Harvey Mudd College
  19. Swarthmore College*
  20. United States Naval Academy

The top 10 liberal arts colleges

  1. Pomona College*
  2. Claremont McKenna College
  3. Williams College
  4. Amherst College
  5. Harvey Mudd College
  6. Swarthmore College*
  7. Bowdoin College
  8. Haverford College
  9. Washington and Lee University*
  10. Wesleyan University

The top 10 STEM colleges

  1. Massachusetts Institute of Technology*
  2. California Institute of Technology*
  3. Harvey Mudd College
  4. United States Naval Academy
  5. Rice University*
  6. Johns Hopkins University*
  7. United States Air Force Academy
  8. Carnegie Mellon University*
  9. United States Coast Guard Academy
  10. United States Merchant Marine Academy

In discussing the ranking and this year's results, Howard writes that Forbes intends to respond to a rising trend in higher education in which students (and their parents) are becoming more like consumers, in a traditional economic sense. She writes that students increasingly not only want a good education from the institutions they attend, but benefits that extend beyond their time on campus, such as a job with decent wages and manageable student debt loads (Howard, Forbes, 8/2; Coudriet, Forbes methodology, 8/2; Forbes rankings, accessed 8/2).

Revisiting the career outcomes conversation


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The right—and wrong—kinds of goals can affect student grades

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