With thousands of colleges across the U.S., educational options are abundant for students.
But navigating that landscape can prove difficult with so many colleges competing for the attention of a limited pool of students. Considering the high cost of paying for college and the need to find a program that will lead to jobs after graduation, the decision of where to go to school is one that concerns many families. Cost and postgraduation employment are only two matters families must consider to determine fit, alongside other factors such as academics, location, campus culture and more.
To help students and families better navigate the college journey, U.S. News has released its 2020 Best Colleges rankings. Out today, the rankings have offered guidance to college-bound students and families since the first edition was published in 1983.
The 2020 edition provides data on more than 1,900 colleges, with rankings for nearly 1,400 institutions. Schools provide U.S. News with most of the data used to compile these rankings in an annual survey and are asked to confirm the accuracy of their data.
Schools are categorized into rankings such as National Universities, institutions that are often research-oriented and offer bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees; and National Liberal Arts Colleges, which emphasize undergraduate education and award half or more of their degrees across liberal arts fields. Additionally, regional colleges and universities are split into eight categories dependent on geographic location and whether master’s degrees are offered.
The top two spots in the Best Colleges rankings among National Universities remain unchanged. Princeton University in New Jersey is ranked No. 1, followed by Harvard University in Massachusetts at No. 2. Three schools are tied in the No. 3 slot: Columbia University in New York, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Yale University in Connecticut.
For Liberal Arts Colleges, Williams College and Amherst College, both in Massachusetts, stayed at No. 1 and No. 2, respectively. Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania and Wellesley College in Massachusetts also remain tied in the No. 3 slot. A new school cracked the top 10 this year, with Washington and Lee University in Virginia moving up from a tie at No. 11 to reclaim the No. 10 spot it tied for in the 2018 edition of the rankings. The biggest drop from the top 10 was Davidson College in North Carolina, which moved down from No. 10 to a tie at No. 17. Davidson was the only school to fall out of the top 10.