In terms of region, the out-and-out winner is California. Stanford's at the top, and three of the top 10 schools--Pomona, Claremont McKenna, and Harvey Mudd--are part of the Claremont Colleges, near Los Angeles. A fourth, Scripps--an all-women's school--ranks among the top 25. Most surprising: the brand-new (founded in 2001), tiny (fewer than 400 undergrads) Soka University of America. What's it doing on this list? Well, it provides financial assistance to 90 percent of its students and, not surprisingly, it's in Southern California, mere miles from the beach.
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 power brokers (No. 4), best for brainiacs (No. 6), best gay-friendly (No. 11) and the most favorable climate amongst intellectual powerhouse schools (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 percent) 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 alumns are billionaires.
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 power brokers, 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 percentof 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.
At the United States Naval Academy, the government foots the tuition bill. That could be part of the reason why the public school holds the No. 9 spot on Newsweek's list of most desirable colleges and the No. 3 spot on its roundup of most desirable suburban schools. "Annapolis is said to be the sailing capital of the world," writes one student on CollegeProwler.com. "During the summer it lives up to its billing. On the other hand, during the winter Annapolis slows down, leaving the streets a bit empty at times."
Of course, empty streets shouldn't matter much to the midshipmen at USNA. Another student writes on the site how third and fourth class "mids" cannot go out on Friday nights and how all students must be back by midnight on the weekends -"or else."
Founded in 1845, the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, had just under 4,500 students in 2008, the most recent year data was available, and close to 80 percent of them were men. Caucasians made up about 75 percent of students, followed by Hispanics (10.5 percent), African-Americans (4.3 percent) and Asian or Pacific Islanders (3.4 percent).
Small in size, Pomona College is big on diversity, bright students and kudos--it has consistently ranked among the top ten American liberal arts colleges by U.S. News & World Report, has similarly been granted high marks from Forbes, and now places 11th among Newsweek's most desirable schools, fourth most desirable suburban school and second most desirable small school.
The Claremont, California-based private college has only 1,500 undergrads; they major in the arts, humanities, social sciences or natural sciences in a desert setting within an hour of the Pacific Ocean, the Mojave Desert, the San Gabriel Mountains and Los Angeles. Unsurprisingly, Pomona was No. 5 for Newsweek's list of academically rigorous schools with terrific weather. Though its Southern California location is a world away from the ivied East Coast universities its founders emulated, the school prides itself on its 7:1 student-to-faculty ratio, intimate classes and overall academic excellence. Only 16 percent of applicants are accepted (averaging ACT scores of 34 and SAT scores of 1560), which helps explain why Pomona College is No. 15 on the list of schools for brainiacs.
Its 50/50 gender breakdown, gay-friendly atmosphere, and racially, geographically and socioeconomically mixed student body makes Pomona the 20th most diverse school and the thirteenth among the best gay-friendly schools on Newsweek's lists.
The United States Air Force Academy, outside of Colorado Springs, Colorado, is both a military organization and a university. And make no mistake--the marriage is rock solid. The school's mission is to "educate, train, and inspire men and women to become officers of character motivated to lead the United States Air Force in service to our nation."
The four-year public institution, which lands on Newsweek's list of most desirable schools (No. 14) and most desirable suburban schools (No. 5) had 4,537 undergraduates in the fall of 2008, the most recent year data was available from the National Center for Education Statistics. All of the students attend full time and 81 percent of them are male. At 77 percent, they are also largely white, followed by Asian-American (8 percent), Hispanic (7 percent) and African-American (5 percent).
At USAFA, the U.S. government pays for tuition.
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 power brokers. 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 percent), Asian or Pacific Islanders (5.7 percent) and African-Americans (5.6 percent).
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 CollegeProwler.com.
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 power brokers.
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.
Talk about a well-rounded applicant. One of seven of The Claremont Colleges, which its founders modeled after England's Oxford University, Claremont McKenna casts itself as an intellectually stimulating and socially fulfilling, yet intimate, school, given its roughly 1,200 undergraduates. It places at No. 20 on Newsweek's Most Desirable Schools list (No. 8 on Most Desirable Suburban Schools and No. 7 on Most Desirable Small Schools). Perhaps that desirability is tied into its sunny California locale--the school is 35 miles east of downtown Los Angeles--since it takes seventh place on that list as well.
Claremont McKenna College is one of the most selective liberal-arts colleges in the nation, accepting only 19 percent of its applicants. While its academic programs, competitive application process and high test scores propel it to No. 24 among best colleges for brainiacs, the school also offers a robust sports program with 46 intramural sports leagues and 19 varsity sports, making it No. 17 in colleges stocked with jocks.
Emphasizing education in economics, government and international relations, Claremont McKenna is the starting point for many careers in law, business, government and public policy. Founded in 1946 as Claremont Men's College, the private school went co-ed in 1976.
Swarthmore College's numerous accolades belie its small size, as the private college, located just outside of Philadelphia, appeared on several of Newsweek's "best of" lists, ranking eighth among small schools, ninth among suburban schools, and fifth among schools for brainiacs. With women slightly outnumbering men and more than a third of its student body represented by ethnic minorities, Swarthmore is the fourth most diverse school on Newsweek's list. If that weren't enough, the school was also ranked by Newsweek as the 16th on the best of the gay-friendly schools in the country and the 21st most desirable school overall.
It's clear why: For academics, the college claims that 87 percent of its students ranked in the top 10 percent at their high schools, averaging 33 on the ACT and 1520 on the SAT. For those seeking an intimate setting, Swarthmore's 399-acre campus is home to fewer than 1,500 undergrads and its 7:1 student-to-faculty ratio keeps class sizes small.
If that weren't enough to attract students, its $1 billion endowment gives the college the 14th largest per-student endowment among all U.S. colleges and universities, affording Swarthmore the opportunity to admit students regardless of their financial need. No surprise it's a competitive school, accepting only 16 percent of applicants.
With only 700 undergraduates, Harvey Mudd College ranks 12th on Newsweek's most desirable small Schools list. Its location in Claremont, California, also makes it the tenth most desirable suburban school and No. 4 on Newsweek's list of schools combining great weather with great minds. Harvey Mudd is one of the seven associated Claremont Colleges, which its founders modeled after England's Oxford University; other schools include Pomona, Scripps and Claremont McKenna.
Harvey Mudd students average 1560 on the SATs and 94 percent place in the top 10 percent of their high schools, with only 28 percent of applicants accepted. Though its focus on math, science and engineering make it sound like a technical institute, Harvey Mudd is a private liberal arts college that aims to offer student instruction beyond its nine core science and math-based majors by nurturing interests in the arts and offering instruction in the humanities, history and politics. Newsweek also ranks Harvey Mudd 19th among the top 25 best gay-friendly schools in the United States.
Founded by Quakers in 1833, Haverford College continues to extol the values of individual dignity, academic strength and tolerance, regarding its campus as an "atmosphere of mutual respect and collaboration among students, faculty and staff." That environment has helped place the college among the most desirable suburban schools in the nation (No. 11).
With its students averaging 1480 on the SAT, Haverford College is the 21st most attractive college for brainiacs, according to Newsweek. Its intimate student body of fewer than 1,200 undergrads and an 8:1 student-to-faculty ratio help put the school on our list of the best small colleges, where it ranks 13th.
Haverford's campus, itself an arboretum, holds 200 acres of award-winning landscapes and architecture, 400 species of trees and shrubs, a large duck pond, gardens and wooded areas. Still, its placement just outside of Philadelphia leaves the campus a stone's throw away from urban culture.
Though Davidson College is a small liberal arts college with only 1,700 students (It's No. 14 on Newsweek's Most Desirable Small Schools list), it is also a Division I NCAA school that offers its students 35 intramural sports and 17 varsity teams, making it among the 30 best colleges for jocks.
However, academics are as important as athletics at Davidson, where the average student scored a 32 on the ACT and 1458 on the SAT, and only 26 percent of applicants get the chance to become a Wildcat. The college claims 23 Rhodes Scholars and regularly appears as one of the top ten liberal arts colleges, as ranked by U.S. News and World Report. Davidson's smart and sporty students also make time for the community as evidenced by the college's ranking as the 16th most service-minded school on Newsweek's list.*
Davidson College was the first liberal arts school to favor grants over loans in all of its financial aid packages, enabling students to graduate without the onus of student loans. Established in 1837, the school is situated 20 minutes north of Charlotte, North Carolina, making it the 12th most desirable suburban institution.
For the complete college rankings from the Washington Monthly, visit their website at www.washingtonmonthly.com.
Set in the suburbs of Atlanta, Georgia, Emory University is considered the 13th most desirable suburban school by Newsweek. The school, founded by Methodists in 1836 and named for Bishop John Emory, maintains its affiliation with the United Methodist Church. Emory accepts only about a quarter of applicants, and those who attend averaged a 33 on the ACT and 1470 on the SAT.
The school is divided into four undergraduate divisions: the College of Arts and Sciences, Oxford College, Goizueta Business School and the Woodruff School of Nursing, in addition to numerous graduate schools. Emory's student-to-faculty ratio is 7:1. Of the nearly 13,000 students, approximately 7,000 are undergraduates.
Tuition and fees to attend the private university for the 2009-2010 academic year was about $38,000, a 5 percent increase from the previous year.
Wellesley College's aim is "to provide an excellent liberal arts education for women who will make a difference in the world," and quite a few of its graduates have made good on that mission statement, including Hilary Rodham Clinton, Madeleine Albright and Diane Sawyer.
One of the original "Seven Sisters" colleges, Wellesley College is among the most elite all-women liberal arts schools in the country, and its standing as one of Newsweek's most desirable small colleges (No. 17) most desirable suburban schools (No. 14) and best schools for brainiacs (No. 22) are just three of the many accolades regularly bestowed on the school, which was recently named one of U.S. News & World Report's top five liberal arts colleges in the nation.
Just west of Boston and situated in a town of the same name, Wellesley offers baccalaureate degrees to some 2,300 undergrads every year. Just over a third of applicants are accepted, and Wellesley undergrads averaged a 32 on the ACT and 1465 on the SAT.
Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts, five miles northwest of downtown Boston, lands at No. 15 on Newsweek's list of best schools in suburbia and No. 21 on the list of the best gay-friendly schools. As one student writes on CollegeProwler.com, "There is an active lesbian/gay and bisexual/transvestite group, and Tufts is a fairly friendly place for an alternative lifestyle."
In fact, Tufts is working to improve that "fairly friendly" rating. Tufts president Lawrence S. Bacow believes that first and foremost, "a great university is defined by its people." In 2007, he announced the appointment of an executive director for institutional diversity. According to CollegeProwler.com, white students make up 55 percent of the student body, followed by Asian-Americans (11 percent) and Hispanics and African-Americans (each 6 percent).
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 power brokers.
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.
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 power brokers, 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.
"Know thyself." That's Hamilton College's motto. Perched above the village of Clinton, New York, the so-called "college on the hill" gives its 1,812 undergraduates an unusual amount of freedom to pursue their academic goals. At Hamilton, No. 22 on Newsweek's list of most desirable small schools, there are no distribution requirements. Instead, faculty members help each student develop his or her own individualized academic program.
The private liberal-arts school, which also came in at No. 18 on Newsweek's list of most desirable suburban schools, is an ideal place for the scholar-athlete. More than 30 percent of Hamilton students participate in sports, whether that's one of nearly 30 sports competing at the NCAA Division III level or one of 47 intramural sports that range from the traditional (golf and rugby) to the unconventional (Ultimate Frisbee and even the "streaking team," established in 2002), making it the 18th most athletic school on the list.
Oberlin College in Oberlin, Ohio, is a truly unique place, as it combines a selective four-year liberal arts college with an internationally renowned Conservatory of Music. Founded in 1833, it was also the first coeducational college to grant bachelor degrees to women and the first to admit black students on equal footing with white students. It was also a station on the Underground Railroad and is the alma mater of the first black elected to the U.S. Congress. With such laudable founding principles, it's no surprise that Oberlin is the third most diverse school on Newsweek's list.
With high marks from The Advocate and InsideCollege.com, Oberlin College also takes spot No. 3 for gay-friendliness.
Nearly three-quarters of Oberlin's classes enroll fewer than 20 students, with an 11 to 1 student-to-faculty ratio in the College of Arts and Sciences and an impressive 8 to 1 ratio in the conservatory. This commitment to individual attention helps the school land spot No. 19 on Newsweek's list of most desirable suburban schools. (Cleveland is about 35 miles away.)
Of the 2,888 students enrolled in the fall of 2009, 55 percent were women and 20 percent were students of color. While the bulk of Oberlin's students are from within the United States, just 9.1 percent are from Ohio. Tuition for the 2009-2010 school year was $39,686.
Soka University of America may be small, but it's big on diversity. Though the much younger sister school to the Soka University of Japan has only been around about a decade--and enrolls just 378 undergrads, the school has already been noticed in Newsweek's rankings, taking spots on four of our "best of" lists. It is the 20th most desirable suburban school in the nation and the 24th most desirable small school.
It is also 12th on the list for diversity. This makes sense when you consider the college's mission is founded on Buddhist principles of peace and human rights and the responsibilities of global citizenship. The college draws over half of its student body from countries outside the United States and includes in its four-year curriculum (and tuition) a semester abroad for every undergraduate.
Located in Aliso Viejo, in Orange County, California, the private liberal arts college occupies 103 acres just miles from the beach, which helps account for its 16th position in the list of schools offering terrific weather with strong academics.
SUA claims a 9:1 student-to-teacher ratio and an average class size of 13 students.
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 power brokers.
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 www.washingtonmonthly.com.
Scripps College is the women's college of The Claremont Colleges, a collection of five undergraduate colleges and two graduate institutions in Claremont, California. Scripps finds itself ranked 22nd on Newsweek's list of most desirable suburban colleges--its 37-acre campus at the base of the San Gabriel Mountains is listed in the National Register of Historic Places--and 11th on Newsweek's roundup of schools that combine super minds with super climates.
Scripps offered a 10 to 1 student-to-faculty ratio in 2009 and enrolled 898 undergrads, the bulk of which were from California. Ninety-six percent of students reside on campus, and the majority of the student body is made up of Caucasians, followed by Asian and Asian-Americans, African-Americans, Hispanics and Native Americans, respectively.
Tuition, including room and board, for the 2009-2010 school year was $50,550 and 51 percent of the student body received some form of aid that year.
Since its founding in 1871, Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts, has seen students as ardently distinct as Sylvia Plath, Barbara Bush, and Julia Child walk its all-female campus. The city itself has a nationally renowned arts scene, which helps land Smith at No. 23 on Newsweek's list of most desirable suburban colleges.
But since Smith often attracts students who pride themselves on their individualism, not everyone agrees on what exactly makes the school so desirable: One student notes on CollegeProwler.com, "It's a college of extremes. One person's favorite part can be another's most-hated aspect." Still, a Smith survey reports that 9 out of 10 students are satisfied with their overall college experience.
Each year, the school welcomes about 2,600 undergraduates, who take part in more than 1,000 classes with a student-to-faculty ratio of 10 to 1. Tuition for the 2010-2011 school year is $38,640, with 53 percent of students in the class of 2012 receiving aid.
Founded in 1885, Bryn Mawr College (its name means "great hill" in Welsh) was the first college to ever offer graduate degrees to someone other than a man, and the school maintains its legacy as a haven of higher education for women.
Located in a town bearing its name in Pennsylvania, the school is one of the "Seven Sisters" colleges, which also includes Wellesley and Barnard. Enrolled students may cross-register with Haverford, Swarthmore and the University of Pennsylvania.
The school offers 36 majors to about 1,300 undergraduates every year, 30 percent of who pursue natural sciences or math, compared with the seven percent of women in those majors nationwide. And with several students participating in community service and graduates serving in the Peace Corps, Bryn Mawr finds itself as the third most service-minded school on Newsweek's list.*
The school accepts about 49 percent of its applicants, and Bryn Mawr students average a 31 on the ACTs and 1410 on the SATs.
For the complete college rankings from the Washington Monthly, visit their website at www.washingtonmonthly.com.
Founded in 1903, Skidmore College's Saratoga Springs location in New York State helps place it on Newsweek's list of the most desirable suburban schools in the nation (No. 25), attracting 63 percent of its student body from out of state and 4 percent from foreign countries.
The bulk of its roughly 2,700 students are undergraduates, who paid on average $40,000 to attend the private school for the 2009-2010 academic year, a nearly 4 percent increase from the previous year. About 47 percent of students receive financial aid.
The school's 9:1 student-to-faculty ratio provides students with a close-knit academic community. The school accepts only about a third of applicants, and those who attend averaged 29 on the ACT and 1350 on the SAT. The student body is 66 percent white, 9 percent Asian, 4 percent African-American, 5 percent Hispanic and 60 percent female.