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.

4 in 5 Americans Are Ignoring Buffett's Warning

Don't be one of them.

Jun 12, 2015 at 5:01PM

Admitting fear is difficult.

So you can imagine how shocked I was to find out Warren Buffett recently told a select number of investors about the cutting-edge technology that's keeping him awake at night.

This past May, The Motley Fool sent 8 of its best stock analysts to Omaha, Nebraska to attend the Berkshire Hathaway annual shareholder meeting. CEO Warren Buffett and Vice Chairman Charlie Munger fielded questions for nearly 6 hours.
The catch was: Attendees weren't allowed to record any of it. No audio. No video. 

Our team of analysts wrote down every single word Buffett and Munger uttered. Over 16,000 words. But only two words stood out to me as I read the detailed transcript of the event: "Real threat."

That's how Buffett responded when asked about this emerging market that is already expected to be worth more than $2 trillion in the U.S. alone. Google has already put some of its best engineers behind the technology powering this trend. 

The amazing thing is, while Buffett may be nervous, the rest of us can invest in this new industry BEFORE the old money realizes what hit them.

KPMG advises we're "on the cusp of revolutionary change" coming much "sooner than you think."

Even one legendary MIT professor had to recant his position that the technology was "beyond the capability of computer science." (He recently confessed to The Wall Street Journal that he's now a believer and amazed "how quickly this technology caught on.")

Yet according to one J.D. Power and Associates survey, only 1 in 5 Americans are even interested in this technology, much less ready to invest in it. Needless to say, you haven't missed your window of opportunity. 

Think about how many amazing technologies you've watched soar to new heights while you kick yourself thinking, "I knew about that technology before everyone was talking about it, but I just sat on my hands." 

Don't let that happen again. This time, it should be your family telling you, "I can't believe you knew about and invested in that technology so early on."

That's why I hope you take just a few minutes to access the exclusive research our team of analysts has put together on this industry and the one stock positioned to capitalize on this major shift.

Click here to learn about this incredible technology before Buffett stops being scared and starts buying!

David Hanson owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway and American Express. The Motley Fool recommends and owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway, Google, and Coca-Cola.We Fools don't 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.

©1995-2014 The Motley Fool. All rights reserved. | Privacy/Legal Information