Choosing a college or university to attend is a major life decision, but it’s not one that you have to make alone. U.S. News & World Report’s Best Colleges rankings can take some of the stress out of the school research and selection process and help students find a college that’s a good fit.
The rankings provide a good starting point for students trying to compare schools. The four overall rankings – National Universities, Liberal Arts Colleges, Regional Universities and Regional Colleges – are based on factors that indicate academic quality, such graduation rates and faculty resources.
But the best school for each student, experts say, is one that will most completely meet his or her needs, which go beyond academics. This is why U.S. News offers dozens of more-focused rankings and lists to help prospective undergraduate students compare schools based on the qualities that matter most to them, such as ethnic diversity on campus and percent of students who live in university housing.
Chances are, there’s a ranking or list that’s relevant to you. For example, veterans can research the schools that are best-equipped to serve them; students interested in historically black colleges and universities can explore the HBCU rankings; and international students can learn which schools already have a strong non-U.S. student community on campus.
Affordability is another key consideration for students and their families, so U.S. News created lists of Best Value Schools and schools that award merit aid to the most students. The Paying for College knowledge center offers additional insights and tips about different types of education aid, including grants, loans and scholarships.
In addition to the rankings, prospective students can explore extensive statistical profiles for the more than 1,800 schools in the U.S. News Best Colleges directory. These profiles are packed with information about a school’s cost, financial aid policies, admissions requirements, student body and more. Families can see additional data points by signing up for the U.S. News College Compass.
(Students in class at The American College in Spain)
Together, the rankings and profiles can help students learn about a range of school options – public and private, large and small – throughout the country, some of which they might not have considered before. They are valuable tools that can help you find a college or university that’s right for you.