2017 Best Colleges in America

The Best Colleges ranking is based on rigorous analysis of academic, admissions, financial, and student life data from the U.S. Department of Education along with millions of reviews from students and alumni. The ranking compares more than 1,000 top colleges and universities in the U.S.
See how this ranking was calculated
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  • By State
Viewing 1-25 of 100
  1. 1

    Stanford University

    • Stanford, CA
    • 1,085 reviews
    College Sophomore:Stanford is truly the most amazing place in the world. Before my freshman year I never felt like a really had a home, but I have finally found one at the Farm. The academics are amazing and the people are even better. While I wish that the financial aid was better I still stand by my decision to attend because the experience I am having is priceless.
    More about Stanford University
  2. 2
    College Junior:Everyone around me is passionate about some topic. It's inspiring to see what my classmates are up to, whether it's research or startups or personal projects. The atmosphere can be stressful, but the community is incredibly supportive if you reach out for help.
    More about Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  3. 3

    Yale University

    • New Haven, CT
    • 914 reviews
    College Junior:I absolutely love attending Yale University. I feel that it was one of the best decisions I have ever made. I am entering my third year in the fall and couldn't imagine being anywhere else. What drew me to Yale was the close knit community and the welcoming and inclusive social space. I have friends from all walks of life and love to interact with people form all different backgrounds. I truly feel that I have grown as an individual as I have become equipped with the vocabulary to express eloquently just who I am and where I stand on certain issues to my peers.
    More about Yale University
  4. 4

    Harvard University

    • Cambridge, MA
    • 618 reviews
    College Sophomore:There's not a school out there quite like Harvard. Simply put, the quality and diversity of the student body has made my time so far a remarkable experience. The intellectual attitudes and uniqueness of students truly make it a worldly experience.
    More about Harvard University
  5. 5

    Princeton University

    • Princeton, NJ
    • 383 reviews
    College Senior:As a graduating senior, I can definitively say that my four years at Princeton have been the best four years of my life. No-loan financial aid, a wealth of quality opportunities, and the best student and faculty body I could have ever wanted combine here to make a school which has rightly been rated #1 the whole time I've been in attendance. Princeton has some of the tightest-knit and most generous alums in the world, and it's easy to see why. If you get accepted, you'd be a fool not to come.
    More about Princeton University
  6. 6

    Rice University

    • Houston, TX
    • 960 reviews
    College Sophomore:I'm incredibly happy with my decision to come to Rice. It's a small campus, so you'll have pretty small class sizes (max 150 for intro STEM classes, once you get past those its usually 15-40 people in a class) and personal relationships with your professors. It's pretty easy to make friends since you see a lot of familiar faces everywhere and you'll see a lot of the same people at events you're interested in (i.e. make sports friends at athletic events, party friends when you go out, school friends in classes- and a lot of these overlap). Rice academics very heavily favors the natural sciences, then social sciences, then humanities. That being said, there are still humanities majors at Rice, they just aren't as dominant as engineers or pre-meds. Students here really (really) care about doing well, so sometimes you'll get caught up in the "Rice bubble" where there's a lot of pressure to do everything (i.e. be involved in a ton of clubs, hold leadership positions, and get great grades), but as long as you learn to balance and keep thing in perspective you'll be fine. Professors aren't trying to fail you, students help each other, and it's a lot of fun. I would very highly recommend Rice, it's an amazing experience and I've learned so much.
    More about Rice University
  7. 7

    Bowdoin College

    • Brunswick, ME
    • 641 reviews
    College Sophomore:I feel like my school has even more to offer than I thought it did and while there are definitely issues, I can't imagine myself being anywhere else.
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  8. 8

    University of Pennsylvania

    • Philadelphia, PA
    • 1,105 reviews
    College Junior:Very diverse undergraduate class socioeconomically and culturally. Penn's resources spanning across all 12 graduate schools are available to undergraduates, truly enhancing the learning experience. Great and friendly atmosphere. Great professors who challenge and engage with students.
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  9. 9

    Washington University in St. Louis

    • Saint Louis, MO
    • 1,322 reviews
    College Sophomore:I love everything about Wash U. The location is amazing, STL has so much to offer. Everyone around is so driven, smart, and kind. The campus, dorms, and food are great. The classes are awesome with exceptional teachers. It can get stressful, but it is so worth it.
    More about Washington University in St. Louis
  10. 10

    Brown University

    • Providence, RI
    • 916 reviews
    College Sophomore:I just transferred into Brown and I honestly have to say that it's one of the best decisions I've made in my life. Brown is a wonderful place to be and being here made me realize how great the college experience can be. Everyone at Brown is incredibly intelligent yet down-to-earth and there's always something to do on campus (e.g. Jane Goodall just gave a lecture last week). The food here is great and the campus is stunning as well. All in all, Brown really takes care of their undergraduates and is an amazing place to be.
    More about Brown University
  11. 11

    Duke University

    • Durham, NC
    • 1,003 reviews
    College Sophomore:Duke is difficult, but I would choose it again if I had to do it all over. The classes make me think, the basketball is fantastic, and the people are amazing.
    More about Duke University
  12. 12

    Columbia University

    • New York, NY
    • 1,083 reviews
    College Junior:For those interested in Columbia College, not CEAS (the Engineering School): As a political science major with a German concentration (Columbia-speak for minor), I have been very satisfied with the academic resources provided by Columbia. The professors I have had in the Poli Sci department have been top in their fields, and the grad students that lead the discussion sections have been both knowledgable and helpful. The German department is very small and thus very personal. Most of the professors will know your name, and the conversation hours (complete with coffee and sometimes handmade baked goods) are really friendly ways to get to know your classmates. That being said, it is very important to read reviews of your classes online before signing up, because Columbia does have duds. Additionally, those in the hard sciences often have a much more competitive and stressful experience, both because of the nature of the major and the organization of the classes themselves. And, of course, the Core is wonderful… if that is what you are looking for. DO NOT COME HERE UNLESS YOU WANT TO SIT AROUND AND TALK ABOUT DEAD GREEK DUDES!!!!! Most of my friends loved the Core, but the few who didn't had miserable freshman and sophomore years. It is very humanities focused, and gives you a wonderful context for culture and ideas that affect every aspect of modern life. But if you hate reading, or hate humanities, or both, DO NOT APPLY. You will hate it.
    More about Columbia University
  13. 13

    Dartmouth College

    • Hanover, NH
    • 652 reviews
    College Junior:Although Dartmouth has its problem, I've had an amazing time. I've grown as a person in so many respects, learned so much about my field, and have had the opportunity to study abroad twice.
    More about Dartmouth College
  14. 14

    Vanderbilt University

    • Nashville, TN
    • 1,156 reviews
    College Sophomore:I love Vandy even though it's super hard and my first year was really tough. The classes are really challenging but the social life and the people you meet here make up for it.
    More about Vanderbilt University
  15. 15

    Pomona College

    • Claremont, CA
    • 343 reviews
    College Junior:Pomona College is extremely special. It's honestly the people here that make the school, but the good weather doesn't hurt. :) A large majority of the students here are open-minded, extremely intelligent, fun, laid-back, and passionate. There are tons of opportunities to get active on campus and it's really hard to be bored here. One of my favorite parts about Pomona is that there's pretty much a community for everyone here.. and if there isn't, you can start one. When I say "community" I mean the various mentor groups on campus, sports groups, music groups, art groups... and its really easy to be fluid in them, too. The food is pretty good too. And the dorms are huge. I'm going into my junior year and I have yet to have a roommate. :)
    More about Pomona College
  16. 16

    California Institute of Technology

    • Pasadena, CA
    • 105 reviews
    College Sophomore:Caltech is probably the best place for geology in the country. There are lots of field trips, brilliant professors (the tops in their fields), and it's easy even for freshman to find research opportunities.
    More about California Institute of Technology
  17. 17

    University of Southern California

    • Los Angeles, CA
    • 3,309 reviews
    College Sophomore:It feels extremely personal. There are opportunities everywhere and especially as an engineer we're encouraged to mix and match the parts of USC that matter to us. For me, I work on campus doing research, I'm head of a club, I'm a student ambassador, I'm in a design club and that's my life within the school. But someone else in my major is on the varsity hocket team, in totally different clubs etc. So life here feels extremely personalized and I like that. The school also has a ridiculous amount of resources for its students, at least within engineering. There is so much energy put into the well-being of the students that it always feels like you have a strong support network.

    Fight on!
    More about University of Southern California
  18. 18

    University of Notre Dame

    • South Bend, IN
    • 1,216 reviews
    College Junior:The community aspect of the University of Notre Dame is unmatched by any other school that I applied to during my college application process. It was the perfect fit for me from a social, an academic, and a religious perspective.
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  19. 19

    University of Chicago

    • Chicago, IL
    • 1,102 reviews
    College Sophomore:Chicago lives up to its standards of being diverse, academically rigourous, and a safe place for inquiry of all kinds. My experience so far has been fantastic, and I'm excited to come back for three more years.
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  20. 20

    Washington & Lee University

    • Lexington, VA
    • 388 reviews
    College Senior:I love this place. If I had to make this decision again 1000 times over, I would make the same choice every time. W&L has given me so many opportunities for personal and intellectual growth. I've had many firsts here, and some lasts as well. The professors are amazing and really care about the students and their success. I've house/pet sat and had dinner at my professors' homes, and I see them all the time at Kroger and at restaurants in town. I have close relationships with my academic advisors and can talk to them about anything. Residence life freshman year was awesome and everyone got the shared experience. By the time recruitment rolled around in January, we were all on even footing and more comfortable with the upperclass women, which made the experience more enjoyable. I pledged a sorority and never looked back. I love my sisters and the way the Greek Life and campus life fit together like two puzzle pieces; it's like no other college I've seen or heard of, in that respect. Because 85% of students participate, greek life at W&L is open and inclusive with minimal infighting. (That said, the rumor mill is unreal here. Everyone knows everything.) As an athlete I've gotten close with my team, but widespread student body support of athletics is nonexistent. For instance, it's school tradition to leave football games at halftime. I love living off campus and having my friends live off campus where we can hang out together in a more comfortable, relaxed environment. Some of my best memories are in off campus houses either partying or just having a quiet night with friends. The honor system is REAL. Yes, some do cheat, but as a school, we don't condone it at all. The professors trust us implicitly and I've enjoyed the freedom to take tests whenever I want (within a certain period) and have keys to all the classrooms in my department. I know this is really long, so some highlights to finish it off: House mountain hikes, Fancy Dress, and the greatest people ever.
    More about Washington & Lee University
  21. 21

    Carleton College

    • Northfield, MN
    • 465 reviews
    College Sophomore:Carleton is an incredible place to go to school--the people really care about academics, real issues, and each other. There are also literally hundreds of activities to get involved with, so there is pretty much something for everyone.
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  22. 22

    Colgate University

    • Hamilton, NY
    • 959 reviews
    College Junior:I'd be lying if I said I 100% loved everything about Colgate. It definitely has its downsides and I felt very uncomfortable during orientation when stuck with a bunch of rich kids talking about their summers on "the vineyard." HOWEVER, I eventually got used to this, found my own group of friends, and learned to accept that there are a ton of rich, wealthy kids here-- and that most of them are very nice.

    COLGATE IS THE BEST

    The opportunities are amazing, and that's what I came here for. I go to classes with ton of smart, beautiful, interesting people. I learn from great professors and read challenging but thought-provoking books. I live on a beautiful campus, and even though there's not much to do in the surrounding area, that means that we're forced to appreciate each other and our time on campus :)

    I especially love the great offerings and opportunity to make friends within the hundreds of clubs, organizations, club sports, intramural sports, and a capella groups on campus. (Join something! Right away! Don't hesitate!) There are so many great opportunities through these clubs for fun outings (like Ski Club!) and interesting lectures (like International Relations Council!).

    I also think Colgate is the perfect size. I'm always meeting new, interesting people, but I see friends everywhere I go!

    Career Services is really helpful, and this is great considering a lot of people worry that going to a liberal arts school makes it harder to get hired. I really recommend the SophoMORE Connections event available sophomore year. It's a great way to practice networking, meet alumni, and learn about different career options. Students who are interested in an unpaid summer internship also apply for grant money-- about half of people who apply receive it and you can get over $4,000 if you need it!

    The Study Abroad offerings are amazing too! --and students on financial aid get extra grant money for that semester to help them out! (Thank god!)

    We're #1
    More about Colgate University
  23. 23

    University of Michigan - Ann Arbor

    • Ann Arbor, MI
    • 3,759 reviews
    College Sophomore:Well I'm currently studying at the University of Michigan, which is known for its business and engineering programs. But I'm currently triple-majoring in Linguistics, Spanish, and Japanese. And I am constantly impressed by just how amazing our faculty is here. In almost every department, there is at least one professor that is a leading contributor in his/her field. I've taken several classes where the textbook that we use to structure the class was written by the professor him/herself.

    I personally have never attended another school, but I assume that this is very atypical for colleges. And it's something that I take pride in as a Wolverine. One of our slogans here is "the leaders and the best". Now I will admit that I can see the pride, and perhaps the arrogance as well, in this statement, but I find it to be quite fitting. I came to Michigan because it's a university taught by the best, for the best.
    More about University of Michigan - Ann Arbor
  24. 24

    Northwestern University

    • Evanston, IL
    • 1,238 reviews
    College Senior:Northwestern has given me the opportunities to learn professional skills outside of the classroom through networking, internships, and student group participation.
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  25. 25

    Tufts University

    • Medford, MA
    • 854 reviews
    College Sophomore:I am very happy with my choice of Tufts University. The size of the student body, the size of my classes, my major, my instructors and playing on the lacrosse team. I have made significant friends here at the university. My chemical engineering classes are so very hard, but I am driven to study hard and succeed. I am in a study group with friends and we are all very dedicated. I only wish the weather was better my first year...it snowed like crazy and was so cold!
    More about Tufts University