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U.S. News Releases Its Take on the Best Colleges

U.S. News & World Report's 2013 edition of Best Colleges was released today with rankings of the top national universities, liberal arts colleges, and regional institutions.

For students especially concerned about finances and completion, there are also lists of schools with the best value, and highest graduation rates.

The top 10 schools in the closely watched ranking of best national universities were the same as last year, although the order changed (note some are ties):

1. Harvard University
1. Princeton University
3. Yale University
4. Columbia University
4. University of Chicago
6. Massachusetts Institute of Technology
6. Stanford University
8. Duke University
8. University of Pennsylvania
10. California Institute of Technology
10. Dartmouth College

Leading the list of the best national liberal arts colleges:

1. Williams College (Mass.)
2. Amherst College (Mass.)
3. Swarthmore College (Penn.)
4. Middlebury College (Vt.)
4. Pomona College (Calif.)
6. Bowdoin College (Maine)
6. Wellesley College (Mass.)
8. Carleton College (Minn.)
9. Haverford College (Penn.)
10. Claremont McKenna College (Calif.)
10. Vassar College (N.Y.)

The top regional universities were:

North: Villanova University (Penn.)
South: Rollins College (Fla.)
Midwest: Creighton University (Neb.)
West: Trinity University (Tex.)

U.S. News also ranks the top public regional universities, top undergraduate teaching universities, and schools ranked by high school counselors. The counselors' top picks (all tied for No. 1): Cornell University, Dartmouth College, Harvard University, Johns Hopkins University, MIT, Princeton University, Stanford University, and Yale University.

Other lists of interest include:

• A+ Schools for B students
• Up-and-Coming Schools
• Ethnic and Economic Diversity
• Best Undergraduate Teaching.

U.S. News Best College is one of several publications that offer students rankings, including Washington Monthly, Newsweek and Forbes.

For details about how U.S. News compiles its rankings, see the site's methodology explained here.

Some organizations, such as the National Association of College Admission Counseling, have been critical of the U.S. News approach and the attention given to rankings. NACAC and other experts encourage students and counselors to use the lists as a guide and one of several factors in making a college decision.

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