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U.S. News Publishes 2011 List of Best Colleges

U.S. News and World Report released its 2011 list of Best Colleges this morning.

There had been some controversy earlier this year over the peer-assessment portion of the survey, in which college officials fill out questionnaires about other institutions. In the past, their assessment counted for 25 percent of each college's overall rating.

This year, the weight for academic reputation is 22.5 percent and more voices were included. For the first time, U.S. News also included the opinion of high school counselors in its evaluation. Feedback from 1,800 high school counselors surveyed made up a third of that measure, and two-thirds came from ratings by college administrators.

Also, this year more schools are listed. U.S. News displayed the rank of the top 75 percent of schools in each category, up from 50 percent.

Graduation rate performance is more heavily weighted in the 2011 survey. This measure now counts for 7.5 percent of the final score (compared to 5 percent previously) for national universities and national liberal arts colleges.

According to the survey, the top 10 national universities are:

Harvard University
Princeton University
Yale University
Columbia University
Stanford University
University of Pennsylvania
California Institute of Technology
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Dartmouth College
Duke University
University of Chicago
Northwestern University

In addition to the best national universities, there are other categories and comparisons by value, economic diversity, freshman retention rate, most international students, highest/lowest acceptance rate, most merit aid, top public schools, and other measures.

It's a helpful resource for anyone looking at colleges. But, remember it's only a guide. Students should set their own criteria for what makes a college just right for them academically, socially, and financially.

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