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Williams College is the best college in America, according to Forbes' annual Top Colleges ranking, which this year placed Harvard University at number seven.
Forbes — which combines liberal arts college and research universities on its list — notes that the divide between these two types of institutions reveals a "higher education in flux." As list author Caroline Howard writes, "This year it comes down to small, student-centric, liberal arts colleges vs. large, brainy, research-oriented universities closely associated with science, technology, engineering and math."
Increasingly, the debate about a college degree's usefulness is less about the prestige of the institution, but rather the focus of a student's studies. However, even as the humanities get pummeled in the public discussion of higher education, Forbes' list shows that its just as good — if not better — to attend a smaller liberal arts school.
Williams College and Stanford University took the top two spots on Forbes' list, with highly regarded Harvard University placing seventh, below peer institutions like Princeton University and Yale University. This is actually an improvement for Harvard, which last year placed eighth on Forbes' Top Colleges ranking.
Howard writes in the Top Colleges' methodology that Forbes stresses "output" over "input," setting their sights "directly at ROI." Forbes created their ranking from five categories — student satisfaction, post-graduate success, student debt, graduation rate, and academic success.
Here are the top 10 colleges on Forbes' America's Top Colleges ranking:
- Williams College
- Stanford University
- Swarthmore College
- Princeton University
- Massachusetts Institute of Technology
- Yale University
- Harvard University
- Pomona College
- United States Military Academy
- Amherst College
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