Which of These 3 Top Ranked Colleges is Truly the Best? You Decide

College rankings are a dime a dozen these days, so how do you know which school is really the “best”?

Aug 3, 2014 at 1:45PM

Flickr / john walker.

With the summer drawing to a close and the school year fast approaching, college ranking reports are being bandied about by such reputable names as Forbes and Time's Money Magazine, each claiming to have found the "best" among the hordes of institutions of higher learning.

In a way, each of these publications is correct – according to its own set of criteria, at least. And, with more rankings scheduled to show up in print within the next month or so, how can the fresh-faced college shopper know which school to choose?

The answer, of course, is to dig in and start reading, all the while weighing how each college is rated alongside your own personal educational goals. Here are a few of the top-rated schools for both this year and last, along with some of the reasons each merited such an illustrious ranking.

1. Williams College, Williamstown, MA
This private, liberal arts college in the Berkshire hills of Massachusetts is Forbes' top pick, using metrics such as graduation rates, student satisfaction and career success as the primary measurements in its most recent college ratings.

Though liberal arts degrees have taken a real beating in the jobs marketplace lately, graduates of Williams College seem to be the exception. Not only do 91% of graduates finish their degrees timely, but they also enjoy starting salaries in the $50,000 per year range.

2. Babson College, Babson Park, MA
Money Magazine has also chosen a private Massachusetts college as its best college choice, considering how factors such as affordability and educational quality impact graduates' ultimate earning power. According to Money's calculations, Babson has taken the Bachelor of Science degree in business and focused exclusively on giving its students one of the best returns on investment around.

Babson's average five-year salary of $59,700 is certainly nothing to sneeze at, despite a rather hefty degree cost of nearly $200,000. The school's concentration on the world of business has also earned it U.S. News and World Report's No. 1 ranking for entrepreneurship, as well.

3. Harvey Mudd College, Claremont, CA
When it comes to engineering, it's hard to beat this small, private California college. Payscale has ranked Harvey Mudd College No.1 for the best return on educational investment two years in a row, and it's no wonder – graduates make annual salaries topping $73,000 after only two years on the job.

As for affordability, Harvey Mudd's 2012 graduating class left the school with an average loan debt of $24,194 – right in between Babson's average of $31,918, and Williams College's rather low $12,749. No doubt, the engineering school's high earnings outlook helps take some of the sting out of its graduates' student debt load. 

Even if you are considering a career in a field other than the liberal arts, business, or engineering, rankings such as these give overwhelmed students an excellent place to begin their college research. Choosing where to spend your college career is never a simple process, but having an abundance of information right at your fingertips can help make that decision a lot less stressful.

Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

Money to your ears - A great FREE investing resource for you

The best way to get your regular dose of market and money insights is our suite of free podcasts ... what we like to think of as “binge-worthy finance.”

Feb 1, 2016 at 5:03PM

Whether we're in the midst of earnings season or riding out the market's lulls, you want to know the best strategies for your money.

And you'll want to go beyond the hype of screaming TV personalities, fear-mongering ads, and "analysis" from people who might have your email address ... but no track record of success.

In short, you want a voice of reason you can count on.

A 2015 Business Insider article titled, "11 websites to bookmark if you want to get rich," rated The Motley Fool as the #1 place online to get smarter about investing.

And one of the easiest, most enjoyable, most valuable ways to get your regular dose of market and money insights is our suite of free podcasts ... what we like to think of as "binge-worthy finance."

Whether you make it part of your daily commute or you save up and listen to a handful of episodes for your 50-mile bike rides or long soaks in a bubble bath (or both!), the podcasts make sense of your money.

And unlike so many who want to make the subjects of personal finance and investing complicated and scary, our podcasts are clear, insightful, and (yes, it's true) fun.

Our free suite of podcasts

Motley Fool Money features a team of our analysts discussing the week's top business and investing stories, interviews, and an inside look at the stocks on our radar. The show is also heard weekly on dozens of radio stations across the country.

The hosts of Motley Fool Answers challenge the conventional wisdom on life's biggest financial issues to reveal what you really need to know to make smart money moves.

David Gardner, co-founder of The Motley Fool, is among the most respected and trusted sources on investing. And he's the host of Rule Breaker Investing, in which he shares his insights into today's most innovative and disruptive companies ... and how to profit from them.

Market Foolery is our daily look at stocks in the news, as well as the top business and investing stories.

And Industry Focus offers a deeper dive into a specific industry and the stories making headlines. Healthcare, technology, energy, consumer goods, and other industries take turns in the spotlight.

They're all informative, entertaining, and eminently listenable. Rule Breaker Investing and Answers are timeless, so it's worth going back to and listening from the very start; the other three are focused more on today's events, so listen to the most recent first.

All are available for free at www.fool.com/podcasts.

If you're looking for a friendly voice ... with great advice on how to make the most of your money ... from a business with a lengthy track record of success ... in clear, compelling language ... I encourage you to give a listen to our free podcasts.

Head to www.fool.com/podcasts, give them a spin, and you can subscribe there (at iTunes, Stitcher, or our other partners) if you want to receive them regularly.

It's money to your ears.


Compare Brokers