Ranking of USA colleges and universities

If you are hoping to make your choice by assessing the reputations of American institutions (colleges and universities), you again have the backing of the US government in your search. Often, institutions are required by law to gather and publish information to aid enquirers – though you should remember that this makes them particularly skilled at self-presentation. Anyone who turns to the educational edition of US News (which is largely academic in focus) or to The Princeton Review (which includes social life – dormitories, food, fraternities) will immediately realize the help this provides. There you can search for a detailed directory of every institution, its history, current offerings, its wealth, its graduate placements, its safety record and dozens of other matters.

You can also find information to allow you to judge between institutions, since there are almost endless comparative tables. These are usually available broken down by type of institution, geographical area and level of study. There are often articles, too, with information about whatever topics are currently in debate in the US higher-education sector.

Methodology of Ranking

The methodology employed in such rankings is always explained but this often makes for tedious reading and it may not be entirely clear to a reader from outside the United States. Its full relevance to the needs of an overseas student is also uncertain. It is wise, therefore, in making your decision, to be a little skeptical about place order within rankings, particularly where this relates to marginal differences. What you need is a general sense of where the institutions that interest you stand in relation to the group as a whole. Other factors matter, too, such as the size of the institution, its major subjects of study, its private or public status, and its classification (national university, liberal arts college or university, comprehensive college or university, specialist school), and all these are usually easy to establish objectively.