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Methodology: Rankings


At Best-In-Class Colleges, the ranking system begins with a meticulous process of grouping colleges based on their class and region. This approach is necessary for more insightful and meaningful comparisons among similar institutions. The philosophy behind this methodology, as well as the detailed process of classification and grouping, is explained in separate articles.

Ranking and Data Sources

Once the colleges are appropriately grouped, ranking them proceeds based on a range of factors and metrics. To ensure accuracy and reliability, rankings rely on multiple data sources, including IPEDS (Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System), the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics, the Department of Education itself, the U.S. Treasury Department, and the NSLDS (National Student Loan Data System).

Data Domains and Metrics

This ranking methodology analyzes various data elements to extract valuable insights and evaluate colleges objectively. The following data domains and metrics are key considerations in these rankings:

Admissions Standards and Student Body

Metrics encompass admissions standards of each college, including factors such as acceptance rates, standardized test scores, and high school GPA requirements. This domain provides insights into the caliber of the student body, such that the competitiveness and selectivity of the institution affects student outcome metrics.

Student Satisfaction

Rankings include metrics to reflect student satisfaction, which is influenced by factors such as campus life, available resources, extracurricular activities, and overall student experiences. This domain provides insights into the college’s ability to create a supportive and enriching environment for its students.

Degree Attainment and Graduation Rates

Statistics cover the successful attainment of degrees by students and the ability to graduate on time. Graduation rates within the expected duration of programs provide an indication of the college’s ability to provide a quality education and support students in their educational journey.

Earnings Potential

Rankings include consideration of the earnings potential of graduates from each college, using data on employment and income levels years after entry. This domain reflects the value and impact of the educational experience on future career prospects, highlighting the connection between quality education and positive outcomes in the job market.

Low Debt

Another crucial aspect considered is the level of student debt incurred by students. Data on student debt informs the rankings, and that data is considered in relation to the higher earnings associated with each institution. Thusly, Best-In-Class Colleges recognitions identify colleges that prioritize affordability and provide students with a high-quality education without burdening them with excessive financial obligations.


An integral aspect to consider when evaluating colleges is the subset of individuals who are admitted but do not attain a degree. Research suggests that even the initial stages of a college education can have a positive impact on individuals’ career prospects, leading to higher employment rates and increased income. Best-In-Class Colleges firmly believes that colleges have a responsibility towards all the students they admit, including those who do not ultimately complete their degree programs.

In line with this philosophy, Best-In-Class Colleges strive to incorporate metrics that encompass both completers and non-completers, where applicable. By considering a broader range of outcomes, Best-In-Class Colleges aims to provide a more comprehensive and realistic understanding of what can be expected on average for all students, regardless of whether they earn a diploma. This approach acknowledges the value of the educational experience itself, recognizing that the knowledge and skills gained during the college journey can contribute to future success, irrespective of degree completion.

By including metrics that encompass both completers and non-completers, the recognitions here offer a more inclusive and nuanced perspective on the overall impact and value of colleges. This approach aligns with the Best-In-Class Colleges commitment to providing a holistic assessment of institutions and their ability to support students throughout their educational journey, regardless of the specific outcome. By considering the experiences and outcomes of all students, these recognitions can provide a more accurate and meaningful representation of colleges’ contributions to individuals’ personal and professional development.

Rankings and Recognitions

It’s important to note that the rankings at Best-In-Class Colleges are designed to showcase the top performers in each area. Rankings with the term “Top” in the title represent the top 50% of colleges within the described parameters, while rankings using the term “Best” represent the top third of colleges. These titles are designed to provide a clear understanding of the relative standing of the colleges listed. Rest assured, all colleges named in these lists and rankings are leaders in their respective areas, recognized for their outstanding performance and contributions to higher education.


Best-In-Class Colleges’ rankings are built on a robust methodology that combines meticulous classification, thorough data analysis, and consideration of multiple factors. At Best-In-Class Colleges, the rankings and recognitions reflect a dedication to highlighting excellence across all aspects of higher education. There remains an important need to recognize institutions that prioritize student success, both for confirmation for prospective students and for assurances to the other various stakeholders each college serves.

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