The 25 Best Schools for Future Powerbrokers


To determine which schools are best for future powerbrokers, we took a broad look at the institutions that are producing today’s political and business leaders by considering the number of students—of both undergrad and graduate programs—who have gone on to become president or, since 1980, U.S. senators. If a politician got both undergrad and graduate degrees from the same school, it was counted once. We also looked at the number of CEOs of Fortune 100 companies or on the Forbes list of billionaires and the percentage of undergraduates going on to the nation’s top professional schools. After Harvard and Stanford, the University of Pennsylvania, which includes the topnotch Wharton School, has graduated the most billionaires.

About the Rankings:
Researchers Peter Bernstein and Courtney Kennedy drew dozens of sources to compile these rankings including information from the National Center for Education Statistics, The Washington Monthly, and College Prowler. A portion of the data they used is at the end of this slideshow, but for the full methodologies, see our FAQ here.  Ranking Methodology. And if you’re not a rankings fan, take a look at this piece by Colin Diver, the president of Reed College, about why schools dislike rankings and how students can use them wisely as part of their college decision-making process.

Harvard-university-ed09 Rose Lincoln / Courtesy of Harvard University

Just in case Harvard University hasn’t earned enough distinctions since its founding as the first institution of higher learning in the United States in the mid-1600s, Newsweek adds a few more to America’s preeminent university, chief among them the school’s rank as the number one most desirable school in the country.  

The Cambridge, Massachusetts–based university also earns top billing as the most desirable urban school and the most desirable large school.  With eight presidents, 24 senators, and 43 billionaires among its alumni, it’s no wonder the school lands squarely on the No. 1 spot for future powerbrokers.  It comes in at No. 2 for brainiacs with 17 Nobel Prize winners and 24 students going on to become Rhodes Scholars over the last decade or so.  And of course graduates were no slouches when they arrived on the prestigious campus either, averaging 35 on the ACT and 1580 on the SATs.    Lending credence to the theory that strong bodies go with strong minds, the school earns the 25th spot for jocks.  

It’s no surprise that the school only accepts about 8 percent of applicants. Of the school’s more than 26,000 students, about 10,000 are undergrads, and the school boasts a 7:1 student-to-faculty ratio.

Tuition and fees for the 2009–2010 academic year were roughly $37,000, which is an increase of about 2 percent from the previous year.  Sixty-two percent of students received financial aid. The school’s student body is more than half female, 15 percent Asian, 7 percent black and 6 percent Hispanic.

yale-university-ed09 Courtesy of Yale University

Yale University—the third-oldest institution of higher education in the United States—continues to attract the best and the brightest from across the globe. Whether you’re a brainiac, future power broker, or a jock there’s probably something for you at Yale.

Located on 250 acres in downtown New Haven, Connecticut, Yale ranked No. 2 on Newsweek’s list of most desirable schools. But it’s not easy to get in: Yale only accepts 10 percent of its applicants, and 96 percent of enrolling students graduated in the top 10 percent of their high-school class. Those standards may help explain why Yale, No. 1 on Newsweek’s list of brainiac schools, has produced 17 Rhodes Scholars and 6 Nobel Prize winners over the last decade or so. Five U.S. presidents, 15 senators, and 16 billionaires also spent their undergraduate years at Yale, helping to propel the Ivy into the No. 2 slot on Newsweek’s list of best schools for future powerbrokers.

The Yale Bulldogs also made the top ten in Newsweek’s list of colleges stocked with jocks. In fact, 16 percent of Yalies play on the school’s 30 varsity sports teams, and the college offers nearly 79 intramural sports. With its largely Collegial Gothic architecture, Yale also took the No. 2 spot on Newsweek’s list of most desirable urban schools. To spend the 2010–2011 year in this multi-honored place, students can expect to pay $49,800 in tuition, room, and board.

columbia-university-ed09 Eileen Barroso / Courtesy of Columbia University

Columbia University has sealed its position as a “best value” school, thanks to strong value rankings in US News, Kiplinger, Princeton Review and Forbes, which have cast the school as offering high-quality academics at a reasonable price.  

Located in New York City’s Upper West Side, Columbia University was established by royal charter in 1754 as King’s College and remains one of the premier schools in the United States. Newsweek plants it at No. 6 on the Most Desirable Schools list as well as the fourth most desirable urban school.  Twelfth on Newsweek’s schools for brainiacs, The Ivy League school is highly selective, with only 11 percent of applicants admitted as students. The fewer than 8,000 undergrads that enroll enjoy a student-to-faculty ratio of 6:1.  

All that individual attention seems to pay off—third on the list for future powerbrokers, Columbia produces alums who frequently find themselves in illustrious positions. With a gay-friendly culture (No. 12 on the list) and non-whites representing more than one-third of its students, Columbia is the 17th most diverse school in Newsweek’s rankings.   

Though the school’s tuition and fees for the 2009–2010 academic year totaled more than $41,000, more than half of Columbia’s student population receives financial aid, many of them institutional grants. The school’s endowment neared $6 billion in 2009.

stanford-university-ed09 Linda A. Cicero / Courtesy of Stanford News Service-Stanford University

Stanford University, already a power player among the nation’s top universities, can now add some more accolades to its roster. The private liberal arts Ivy in Stanford, California, which claims fearless inquiry and action as its mission, has landed spots on seven of Newsweek’s college ranking roundups: most desirable overall (No. 3), most desirable suburban school (No. 1), most diverse (No. 16), best for powerbrokers (No. 4), best for brainiacs (No. 6), best gay-friendly (No. 11) and the most favorable climate amongst intellectual power houses (No. 2).
The school had 30,429 students apply for a spot on “The Farm”, a nickname for Stanford’s campus, and Stanford admitted just 9 percent of those applicants to the class of 2013, enrolling 1,694 freshmen for fall 2010. Females made up 49 percent of the freshman class. While all 50 states are represented in the class of 2013, nearly 40 percent of students hail from California.
Asian-Americans make up 23 percent of Stanford’s diverse student body, followed by Mexican-Americans and other Hispanic (12 percent), African-Americans (10 percent), international students (10%) and American Indians or Alaskan Natives (2 percent).
Tuition at Stanford is currently around $37,000 per year, and 80 percent of students in the 2008–2009 school year (the most recent year data was available) received aid. Perhaps a wise investment—27 of its alums are billionaires.

princeton-university-ed09 Courtesy of Princeton University

Founded in 1746, Princeton University in Princeton, New Jersey, is the fourth-oldest college in the United States (Harvard, founded in 1636, is the oldest, followed by the College of William & Mary and Yale, respectively).
The Ivy finds itself on a slew of Newsweek’s “best of” lists, ranking among the best schools for diversity (No. 9), best gay-friendly (No. 10), most desirable overall (No. 4), as well as the second most desirable suburban school in the country. Its output of two presidents, three senators and eight billionaires lands it at No. 5 for future powerbrokers, and with 20 percent of its student body on varsity teams, Princeton earns 14th place on schools for jocks.  
Princeton admitted just 10.1 percent of students who applied in 2009, 95 percent of whom were in the top 10 percent of their high-school class.  No wonder it comes in at No. 4 for brainiacs. The school currently has 5,047 undergraduates and boasts a 5:1 student-to-faculty ratio. American minorities make up roughly 32 percent of the undergraduate student body. Men only have a slight edge over women when it comes to enrollment numbers.
Tuition for the 2009–2010 school year was $50,620. Currently, 58 percent of Princeton’s students receive financial aid, with aid grant for the class of 2013 averaging $35,309.

university-penn-ed09 Courtesy of University of Pennsylvania

The University of Pennsylvania, a private Ivy League college in Philadelphia is on seven of Newsweek’s “best of” lists, ranking 13th on our list of most desirable colleges; eighth on the list of most desirable urban colleges; second for most desirable large campus; sixth in schools best for future powerbrokers; first for gay-friendliness and diversity; and finally, 18th among the 25 best colleges for the super-smart.

Admission is competitive, with just 17 percent of the 22,718 applicants for the class of 2013 receiving acceptance letters. Additionally, 96 percent of the students admitted for the fall 2009 school year were from the top 10 percent of their graduating high-school class and scored an average of 1520 on the SAT. Penn retains 95 percent of its students each year, and data shows that 88 percent of students graduate from the school in four years.

The undergraduate population at the school is 10,337, with 84 percent of students coming from outside Pennsylvania. The campus consists of 51 percent women and minorities make up 39.6 percent: After Caucasians at 37 percent, Asian-Americans are the next populous at 16 percent, followed by African-Americans at 7 percent and Hispanics at 5 percent. The student-to-faculty ratio is 6 to 1.

Tuition for the 2009–2010 school year was $53,250 with 61 percent of students receiving some form of financial aid.

duke-university-ed13 Chris Hildreth / Courtesy of Duke University

Adding to numerous accolades since its founding in 1838, Newsweek counts Duke University as the 22nd most desirable school in the country and the ninth most desirable urban school. Newsweek also ranks Duke among its brainiac schools, at No. 14—its students averaged a 34 on the ACT and a 1540 on the SAT and 90 percent come from the top 10 percent of their high-school class.

With African-Americans, Hispanics, and Asians accounting for nearly 40percentof its student body and an appearance on The Advocate’s gay-friendly list, Duke takes eighth place among the most diverse schools in the nation and 17th among the best gay-friendly schools. Counting billionaires, Fortune 100 CEOs and high-ranking politicians among its alumni ranks makes Duke the seventh best school for future powerbrokers.

Located in Durham, North Carolina, about half of its 14,000-strong student body is comprised of undergraduates, and the school has a student-to-faculty ratio of 10:1.

Tuition and fees for the 2009–2010 academic year was nearly $39,000, a nearly 4 percent increase from the previous year, and only about 22 percent of applicants are admitted.

georgetown-university-ed09 Courtesy of Georgetown University

Founded in 1789 by a priest, Georgetown University is the oldest Catholic university in the United States. Deemed the 14th most desirable urban school, Georgetown is renowned for its academic excellence: Students posted an average score of 32 on the ACT and 1460 on the SAT, and three-quarters of students graduated in the top 10 of their high school classes. Coming in at No. 16 on Newsweek’s list of schools for brainiacs, Georgetown University has produced four Rhodes Scholars, among many other distinguished award winners. Gaining eighth place on Newsweek’s list of best power-broker colleges, Georgetown counts among graduates 20 members of the House, two presidents, six senators, one Fortune 100 CEO and one billionaire.

Its melting-pot hometown of Washington, DC, might contribute to the school’s all-inclusive atmosphere.  Georgetown comes in at No. 23 on Newsweek’s list of most diverse schools, and No. 24 on the nation’s best gay-friendly colleges.

The school’s 7,000 undergraduates make up just less than half of the student body and attend one of four undergraduate schools, spread across three campuses. The school offers an 11:1 student-to-faculty ratio. Students paid on average $39,000 to attend for the 2009–2010 academic year, a 3 percent increase from the previous year, according to U.S. Department of Education data.

university-virgina-ed09 Dan Addison / University of Virginia Public Affairs

Founded in 1819 by Thomas Jefferson, the University of Virginia in Charlottesville has held either the No. 1 or No. 2 spot for the 12 years that U.S. News & World Report has issued its college rankings. Now, the public institution can add several more honors to its list.

The university ranked on several of Newsweek’s “best of” lists, most notably as the seventh most desirable large campus. It also ranked 17th among the best suburban schools. Admission to UVA is highly competitive, with just 37 percent of its applicants admitted for the 2009 school year. Among first-year students, 94 percent ranked in the top 10 of their graduating high-school class. Alums that range from senators to Fortune 100 CEOs places it at No. 9 for future powerbrokers, and its 79 intramural sports and 21 varsity sports earn it tenth place among colleges stocked with jocks.

The school welcomes about 14,300 undergraduates each year, and those students are currently made up of 56 percent females. UVA’s student-to-faculty ratio is 18:1. Just 27 percent of the student body hails from outside Virginia and those students paid $43,142 in tuition for the 2009–2010 school year, while their in-state counterparts paid $21,142. Approximately 55 percent of University of Virginia students receive some form of financial aid.

university-chicago-ed09 / Courtesy of The University of Chicago

The University of Chicago in Chicago, Illinois, finds itself on five of Newsweek’s “best of” lists: At No. 12, the private institution is one of the nation’s 25 most desirable urban colleges; ten Rhodes scholars and four Nobel Prize winners put it in the top 10 (No. 8) of colleges for the super-smart. The university comes in at the No. 13 spot on the list of most diverse colleges and No. 25 for gay friendliness; and finally, with seven senators and ten billionaires among its alumni, the school is tenth on the list of colleges best for future powerbrokers.

The university has just over 5,000 undergraduates—99 percent are age 24 or younger. The student body is evenly split between men and women, and 45 percent of those students are Caucasian, 14 percent Asian or Pacific Islander, 9 percent Hispanic, and 6 percent African-American. The school, which sees 92 percent of its students graduate, retains 98 percent of its first-year students.

Tuition for the 2009–2010 school year was $56,630. About 71 percent of students at the University of Chicago receive some form of financial aid.

dartmouth-ed09 Joseph Mehling / Courtesy of Dartmouth

Ranking No. 1 on Newsweek’s list of most desirable rural schools and the eighth most desirable school in the country, it’s no wonder that only about 15 percent of the applicants are invited to matriculate at this sought-after Hanover, New Hampshire, gem. The student population, totaling almost 6,000 students, more than 4,000 of which are undergraduates, is offered a low student-to-faculty ratio of 8:1, contributing to Dartmouth College’s No. 1 ranking on U.S. News & World Report’s list of schools with a “Strong Commitment to Teaching.”

With a student body that is 55 percent white, 14 percent Asian, 8 percent black and 7 percent Hispanic and an ongoing commitment to Native American education (in the past 40 years, more than 700 Native Americans have attended Dartmouth) this Ivy is the 24th most diverse school on Newsweek’s list.   

Influential alums earn Dartmouth 11th place for powerbrokers. Its nearly 25 percentparticipation in varsity sports positions the Big Green at No. 13 for athletics, and average student scores of 34 on the ACT and 1550 on the SAT make it 13th for brainiacs.

Taking advantage of these accolades isn’t cheap, however.  According to U.S. Department of Education estimates, tuition and fees were almost $39,000 for the 2009–2010 academic year, nearly five percent more than the previous year.

university-arizona-ed09 Courtesy of University of Arizona

“UA is a great school in a chill city that has nice weather and beautiful, beautiful people,” writes one student of the University of Arizona on Fitting, since the public school finds itself at No. 8 on Newsweek’s list of colleges best for climate and academics. Its influential alums also make the school No. 12 for future powerbrokers.

Located in Tucson, Arizona, the University of Arizona has approximately 30,000 undergraduates in any given year. Women hold the slight majority here, at 52 percent. Whites make up about 64 percent of the student body, followed by Hispanics at 17 percent, Asian or Pacific Islander at 5 percent and African-American at 3 percent.

Tuition for Arizona residents is $22,382 for the 2010–2011 school year, including room and board. For out-of-state-students, the same tuition and fees rise to $38,740.

unc-chapel-hill-ed09 Dan Sears / Courtesy of UNC-Chapel Hill

The nation’s first state university, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is on Newsweek’s list of most desirable suburban schools and most desirable large colleges, at Nos. 16 and 6, respectively.

In the fall of 2009, the public university enrolled 3,960 first-year students from a record 23,047 applicants—a 21 percent increase over the past five years, the school says. Close to 80 percent of those students were in the top 10 percent of their high-school classes.

The undergraduate population is nearly 17,900 students, with 59 percent women. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill retains 96 percent of its first-year students, and the overall graduation rate is 86 percent.  With one president, four senators, one Fortune 100 CEO and two billionaires claiming UNC as their alma mater, the school snags rank No. 13 on Newsweek’s list of schools for future powerbrokers.

NCES data shows that 49 percent of UNC Chapel Hill students do not receive financial aid—a surprising figure given that tuition for in-state students for the 2009–2010 school year was $3,865 and $21,753 for students who come from outside North Carolina.

mit-ed09 Courtesy of Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Internationally known by three simple letters, the Cambridge-based Massachusetts Institute of Technology gains a host of distinctions from Newsweek, including fifth most desirable school in the nation and third most desirable urban school.

It’s no surprise that MIT is also seventh for brainiacs (of the only 12 percent of applicants accepted, they averaged a 34 on the ACT and 1560 on the SAT and the school boasts 11 Nobel Prize-winning graduates over the last decade or so) and No. 14 for future powerbrokers (alumn include four members of the House, four Fortune 100 CEOs and six billionaires). What may be surprising is that Newsweek also places the school at No. 15 for athletes (22 percent of students participate at the varsity level and 53 intramural sports are played).  

MIT is packed with a diverse student body (No. 10 on the list), which is 37 percent white, 25 percent Asian, 8 percent black and 12 percent Hispanic. Though its nearly $38,000 tuition isn’t cheap, and even grew close to 4 percent for the most recent academic year, more than 60 percent of MIT students received financial aid. The school has just over 4,000 undergraduates and a student-to-faculty ratio of 8:1.

university-michigan-ed09jpg Martin Vloet / Courtesy of University of Michigan

Coming in at No. 24 on Newsweek’s list of most desirable urban campuses and No. 11 among the most desirable large campuses, The University of Michigan, Ann Arbor finds itself exactly where students would expect. “Nearly every academic area is in the top 10, the sports teams warrant immediate respect, the social life is right with the times, and there are so many ways in which to become involved. It’s almost impossible to become a couch potato here,” writes one student on No wonder the school also comes in at No. 15 for future powerbrokers. Noted for its gay-friendliness by both The Advocate and positions the school at No. 5 for that ranking.

The public school admitted close to 50 percent of its 29,965 applicants in 2009. Some of those students went on to join the nearly 26,000 undergraduates on campus, which offers a 12 to 1 student-to-faculty ratio.

The student body is comprised of mostly Caucasians, at 65 percent. At 12 percent, Asian-Americans are the next most populous race on campus, followed by African-Americans at 6 percent and Hispanics at 4 percent. The university retains 96 percent of its students, according to National Center for Education Statistics data.

In-state tuition for the 2009–2010 school year was $11,659 and $34,937 for non-Michigan residents. Almost 80 percent of students received aid that year.

norte-dame-ed09 Matt Cashore / Courtesy of University of Notre Dame

Rudy, one of the most highly regarded sports films of all time, is about one Notre Dame student’s intense desire to play for the university’s football team. Years later, that intense desire persists—the college ranked No. 21 on Newsweek’s list of colleges stocked with jocks. The private college in Notre Dame, Indiana, also lands at No. 7 on our list of most desirable suburban schools, No. 19 for most desirable overall and No. 16 for schools best for future powerbrokers.  

Founded in 1842, the Catholic university now welcomes around 8,300 undergraduates to its campus each year. Admission is highly competitive, with five applicants for each freshman seat. Notre Dame also says that women, first admitted in 1972, now account for 47 percent of the undergraduate student body. National Center for Education Statistics data identify 77 percent of the student body as Caucasian, 9 percent Hispanic, 7 percent Asian-American and 4 percent African-American.

Tuition for the 2009–2010 school year was $51,297, with 76 percent of students receiving some form of financial aid.

williams-college-ed09 Scott Barrow / Courtesy of Williams College

Along with Wesleyan University and Amherst College, Williams College is part of the “Little Three,” the small-liberal-arts-school version of the “Big Three” that consists of Harvard, Princeton and Yale.  And Williams shares the limelight with its Big and Little counterparts on several of Newsweek’s lists: It’s No. 17 for future powerbrokers, No. 16 on Most Desirable Schools overall, No. 2 on Most Desirable Rural Schools, No. 4 on Most Desirable Small Schools and No. 10 for brainiacs.   

Undergraduate enrollment at Williams College is roughly 2,000, with the majority of students pursuing a degree in economics, followed by English. If that sounds like a student body of polar opposites, consider this: Approximately 50 percent of all Williams College students participate in varsity sports, putting it eighth on Newsweek’s list of colleges stocked with jocks.

Another unusual aspect of Williams College is an academic year that operates on two four-course semesters, plus a one-course January term. An all-male college until 1970, Williams began to phase out fraternities in 1962.

During the 2009–2010 school year, students paid $49,880 for tuition, fees, and room and board.

northwestern-university-ed09 Courtesy of Northwestern University

Northwestern University has come a long way since its first building opened in 1855, providing a learning space for just 10 students and two faculty members. Today, Northwestern has 16,337 students, more than half of them undergraduates, and 2,500 full-time faculty members. The university spans three campuses: two on Lake Michigan in Evanston, Illinois, and one in Chicago.
U.S. News & World Report continues to rank the school’s undergraduate program as one of the best in the country, and now, it’s also on Newsweek’s list of colleges for brainiacs, at No. 23.

The school also ranks 18th for future powerbrokers, having graduated no less than nine billionaires and three Fortune 100 CEOs. Not bad for a school whose annual tuition and fees for 2009–2010 were $25,392.  And  the school is deemed the 22nd best gay-friendly in the country.

Northwestern admitted 27 percent of its 25,369 applicants to be part of the class of 2013. That class ended up with a near-even split of male and female students, 22 percent of whom are Asian-American, seven percent Hispanic, six percent African-American and less than one percent American Indian. Based on past figures, one could expect 86 percent of those students to graduate within four years.

university-of-southern-california-ed09 Mark Berndt / Courtesy of University of Southern California

Founded in 1880, the University of Southern California started out with just 53 students and ten teachers. Today, the private college welcomes around 17,000 undergraduates each year who enjoy a 9:1 student-to-faculty ratio, making the college the fourth most desirable large campus and the 15th most desirable urban school on Newsweek’s lists.

Unsurprisingly, given the locale for which it’s named, the school also comes in at No. 10 on the list of schools that feature both terrific weather and a smart student body. USC also ranks 19th on the list of schools best for future powerbrokers and 23rd on the list of best gay-friendly colleges.

Admission to the university is competitive, as USC admitted just 24 percent of its 35,753 applicants in the fall of 2009. Admitted students have an average weighted GPA of 4.05 with an average 1470 on their SATs. Meanwhile, 72 percent of students graduate within four years.

The campus population consists of 50 percent women and 60 percent of students come from within California. Caucasians make up 44 percent of the student body, Asian-Americans 24 percent, Hispanics 13 percent, and African-Americans 5 percent.

Tuition for the 2009–2010 school year was $53,617, with 76 percent of students receiving some form of aid that year.

amherst-ed09 Courtesy of Amherst College

Amherst, No. 5 on Newsweek’s list of most desirable small schools, can offer students a lot of individualized attention. With a faculty-to-student ratio of 1:8, this private liberal arts school in New England boasts an average class size of 16. In fact, 90 percent of Amherst courses have fewer than 30 students. “We believe in teaching as conversation because the best teaching is conversation,” Tom Gerety, the president of Amherst from 1994–2003, once said.

Situated on a scenic 1,000-acre campus near the center of the town of Amherst, Massachusetts, the college also made the top 3 in Newsweek’s list of most desirable rural schools. Indeed, Amherst comes in as the 17th most desirable school overall. Along with Wesleyan University and Williams College, Amherst College is part of the “Little Three,” the small-liberal-arts-school version of the “Big Three” that consists of Harvard, Princeton and Yale.

Despite its small size (roughly 1,700 undergraduates total), Amherst boasts many accomplished alumni, including U.S. President Calvin Coolidge and Supreme Court Chief Justice Harlan Fiske Stone, which lands the school the 20th rank in Newsweek’s list for future powerbrokers and 11th for brainiacs. And the $48,400 in comprehensive fees that students paid in the 2009–2010 school year just might turn out to be a good financial investment: Amherst has also produced two billionaires.

college-william-and-mary-ed09 Stephen Salpukas / Courtesy of The College of William and Mary

It’s not easy to be counted among the College of William & Mary’s students, with an acceptance rate of one in three and a student body that averaged 32 on the ACT and 1440 on the SAT. Steeped in as much history as its colonial Williamsburg, Virginia, location would suggest, the school is designated as the 21st most desirable suburban college by Newsweek. It also ranks ninth among our list of schools with the most service-minded students.* Counting three presidents among its alumni, the college comes in at No. 21 for future powerbrokers.

Named for King William III and Queen Mary II, the school became the second college established in the American colonies when it was chartered in 1693. The College of William & Mary attracts nearly 8,000 students a year, approximately 6,000 of them undergrads. Business and social sciences rank among the most popular majors, and the school offers a student-to-faculty ratio of 12:1.

In-state students paid tuition and fees of less than $11,000, while out-of-state students paid almost triple that for the 2009–2010 academic year according to the U.S. Department of Education.
*For the complete college rankings from the Washington Monthly, visit their website at

us-military-westpoint-ed09 Courtesy of United States Military Academy

The United States Military Academy lands on Newsweek’s list of most desirable schools at No. 15, as well as most desirable suburban schools at No. 6.  Having produced two presidents and one senator, the school is also No. 22 on the list of best schools for future powerbrokers. Its hometown of West Point, New York, is steeped in American history: It served as a fortified site during the Revolutionary War and is the place where Benedict Arnold committed his famous act of treason when he tried to turn the site over to the British Army.

Today, the public school, where the government pays for the students’ tuition, has roughly 4,500 undergraduates enrolled, 85 percent of which are male. In the fall of 2008, the most recent year data was available, Caucasians made up 72.5 percent of cadets, followed by Hispanics (8.9%), Asian or Pacific Islanders (5.7%) and African-Americans (5.6%).

In addition to a rigorous academic schedule, cadets at the United States Military Academy must participate in intercollegiate, club or intramural sports each semester. This leads to one of the oft-heard gripes about the United States Military Academy: overcrowding. “But, with so many physically active students in one place, it would be hard for places like the weight room not to get crowded,” writes one student on

washington-university-ed09 Whitney Curtis / Courtesy of Washington University

With approximately 6,000 undergraduate students, Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, is a medium-size, private university. It lands in the 11th spot on Newsweek’s list of best urban campuses and 19th on the list of colleges for the super-smart.

Named for George Washington, the school was founded in 1853 thanks in part to poet T.S. Eliot’s grandfather, who was a Unitarian minister concerned with the lack of higher education opportunities in the Midwest. Today admission to the university is competitive; the school admitted just 22 percent of its 23,105 applicants last year.

Washington University offers its students a 7:1 student-to-faculty ratio and a four-year graduation rate of 84 percent. The campus makeup is 50 percent male, 50 percent female and 59 percent of students are Caucasian, 13 percent Asian-American, 10 percent African-American and 3 percent Hispanic.

Tuition for the 2009–2010 school year was $54,533 and 66 percent of students received some form of financial aid that year.

bowdoin-college-ed09 Courtesy of Bowdoin College

Selective, athletic, intellectually rigorous and historic Bowdoin College is the 18th most desirable school in the country, according to Newsweek’s rankings. Located in scenic Brunswick, Maine, the school also finds itself fourth on the list for most desirable rural schools and the sixth most desirable small school.

The private school, with only 1800 undergraduates, is very selective, admitting less than one in five applicants. Those who attend scored high on both the SAT and ACT, averaging 1510 on the former and 33 on the latter. The school offers more than 40 majors, with the most popular majors in the social sciences, including economics and political science, which may account for Bowdoin’s 24th place on Newsweek’s list for future powerbrokers. The school also takes spot No. 25 for its service-minded culture  according to the Washington Monthly.

The student body exercises their bodies as much as their minds, with 39 percent playing on one of 28 varsity teams. There are an additional 51 intramural sports on offer, making Bowdoin the fifth-ranked jock school.

Tuition for the 2009–2010 academic year averaged around $40,000, and about 45 percent of students received financial aid. The student body is 66 percent white, 12 percent Asian, 10 percent Hispanic, 6 percent African-American and 51 percent female. Eighty-three percent hail from out of state.

*For the complete college rankings from the Washington Monthly, visit their website at

university-of-wisconsin-ed09 Jeff Miller / Courtesy of University of Wisconsin-Madison

With 28,690 undergraduate students attending classes at its 935-acre campus, the University of Wisconsin at Madison is the 25th most desirable large campus on Newsweek’s lists.  It is also among the top 25 schools for future powerbrokers.

Founded in 1848, today the public institution is organized into 20 schools with over 2,000 faculty members, making for a 22 to 1 student-to-faculty ratio. The student population consists of 52 percent women and 48 percent men, the majority of which—56 percent—are from Wisconsin. At 77 percent, Caucasians are the dominant race here, followed by Asian-Americans at 5.6 percent, Hispanics at 3.6 percent and African-Americans at 3 percent.

The university admitted 59 percent of its 22,613 applicants in 2009. Those students had an average SAT score of 1380 and an average ACT of 30. The four-year graduation rate stands at 48 percent.

Tuition for the 2009–2010 school year was $8,313 for in-state students, $23,063 for out-of-state attendees. Sixty-two percent of students received financial aid that year.


Join the Discussion