Tips For Choosing Best Colleges In America: 2014 - 2020

Harvard University

Top University on many lists around the world, located in Cambridge Massachusetts.
Top University on many lists around the world, located in Cambridge Massachusetts. | Source

What is a Best College?

Individuals attend colleges, universities, trade and vocational schools, and apprenticeship programs for a variety of reasons. Each person's needs and desires when it comes to education will result in a particular "Best College" or set of best-fitting post-secondary educational institutions for that person.

Be that as it may, a range of popular magazines, workforce professionals, educators, and economists compose multiple lists of Best Colleges in the US every year. We have a Top 100 Best Colleges int eh World" as well. America even has an expanded McDonald's Hamburger University and the Disney program for university credit. Education is never ending in diversity and magnitude in this country, evn though it may need some improvement.

I will begin by listing the Top 10 form a few lists and then finish with my own list that includes my opinion of the best post-secondary institution in America.

The Number One Best College is the world was named Princeton by US News & World Reports and one of the important deciding factors is the high average percentage of Alumni that make donations to the University - 60%. That may not be what is important to you.

University of Oxford, UK

Displays in a museum at Oxford, Number Two University in the World.
Displays in a museum at Oxford, Number Two University in the World. | Source

What Is the Most Important Factor In College Choice?

Your Number One Deciding Factor may be any of the following:

  1. Overall cost of education and room and board,
  2. Types and amounts of financial aid packages available,
  3. Status and prestige of the institution,
  4. Legacy: a family history of attendance at the school,
  5. High rates of job placement post graduation,
  6. Areas and topics of research,
  7. Distance from home,
  8. Living conditions on or off campus,including residential colleges,
  9. Types and varieties of courses of study/specialties and certifications, or diplomas offered,
  10. Whether the ACT or the SAT scores are accepted,
  11. Specific accreditations of the institution,
  12. Sustainability initiatives active,
  13. Arts and culture in school and the local community,
  14. Sports and recreation programs

Some students are even most concerned about the quality and variety of the food in the student dining facilities. Better factors exist for college choice, however.

Kng's College at University of Cambridge, UK

Number Three University worldwide.
Number Three University worldwide. | Source

Surprises In College Choice

Many people are surprised that some of the oldest and most well known colleges and universities are not accredited at all - including Harvard Unversity.

Each student must make a decision about what school to attend for post-secondary education. One first step is to make a budget and form a list of the most important factors for you as an individual. Then, choose several colleges to visit and find out all you can about those things at each school that are important to you in your decision.


Stanford University, Stanford CA, USA

Click thumbnail to view full-size
The big DIsh at Standford. Number Four University around the world.A few of the sculptures by Rhodin on campus.
The big DIsh at Standford. Number Four University around the world.
The big DIsh at Standford. Number Four University around the world. | Source
A few of the sculptures by Rhodin on campus.
A few of the sculptures by Rhodin on campus. | Source

Making Educational Choices

If I enrolled in higher education today, I would first decide on a course of study with a significant chance of resulting in full-time, long lasting employment. In the 2010s, this means Aerospace Sciences and Technologies, Health and Medical Professions, and Computers/Computer Systems Careers, among others.

Since America is still in economic recovery post-Great Recession, I would look for a public in-state school or an out-of-state school in a US State in which it is quick to establish residency for in-state fees. Bible colleges are also fine, but sometimes graduates must go on to a 4-year college in order to acquire an actual degree.

I would avoid students loans if at all possible and secure an on-campus part-time job related to my studies and work.

Next, I would narrow my list to schools that use Green Operations, such as recycling and sustainable energy. They would also have specialty studies and research in sustainability available.

Another factor would be to look at my list and determine schools of substantial diversity among the student body, faculty, and staff. Specifically, this would include researchers in my chosen field(s), because international countries have worthwhile information to share..

I would like a teaching hospital on capmus and a high-tech biosciences department, graduate schools, and a large library of up-to-date materials for research and job search after graduation. Computer labs would need to be state-of-the-art and resources should be open to the community at large as well.

Further, I would llike a variety of places of worship near campus,basic retail and grocery stores, everal sports and recreation options, and excellent public transportation around the school and around the city.

Finally, I would choose a residential college in an interesting city, diuscussed below.

University of Northern Georgia in Dahlonega

Blue Ridge Rifles honors the Confederate unit of the same name, founded in 1861. The school supports several military based units that have tough requirements.
Blue Ridge Rifles honors the Confederate unit of the same name, founded in 1861. The school supports several military based units that have tough requirements. | Source

Kiplinger's Top 10 Colleges, Ranked by Average Student Debt at Graduation

  1. University of North Georgia - (January 2012, grand opening in 2013), formerly North Georgia College & State University - $10,128
  2. California State University, Long Beach- $12, 401
  3. SUNY Oneonta - $13,697 - see list below.
  4. New College of Florida - $14,172
  5. SUNY Buffalo - $16, 010
  6. University of North Carolina at Asheville - $16, 252
  7. San Diego State University - $16,400
  8. University of North Florida - $16,572
  9. University of Texas at Dallas - $16,813
  10. California State Polytechnic University, Pomona - $16, 815. This is a new entry into this particular Top 10 List. The unversity was built on what was formerly the California ranch of the controversial Dr. W. K. Kellogg, who began a breakfast cereal movement that culminated in today's Kellogg's company. His medical practices sometimes came into question, however, like those entailing patients to be lowered into vats of water and shocked with electricity. See Wellville.


You can see that the Top 10 List of Colleges with lowest average graduation debt was far differerent in 2008 at the end of the George W. Bush Administration:

  1. University of Pittsburgh - NA (very low)
  2. SUNY Cortland - NA
  3. SUNY at New Paltz $1,900
  4. Florida International University $4,489
  5. University at Albany (SUNY) $11,856
  6. James Madison University (Va.) $11,932
  7. SUNY at Oneonta $12,100 -- This on rose to Number 3 on the 2013-2014 list.
  8. University of California, Davis $12,701
  9. University of Virginia $12,726
  10. University of Mary Washington at Virginia $12,800

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Cambridge MA

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Buzz Aldrin, 2nd man on the Moon, graduated from MIT, the Number Five school on the ULinks Top 10 List worldwide.Robert McNair of the Space Shuttle Challenger graduated from MIT. He was recuited to NASA by Nicleel Nichols, Star Trek's original Uhura.
Buzz Aldrin, 2nd man on the Moon, graduated from MIT, the Number Five school on the ULinks Top 10 List worldwide.
Buzz Aldrin, 2nd man on the Moon, graduated from MIT, the Number Five school on the ULinks Top 10 List worldwide. | Source
Robert McNair of the Space Shuttle Challenger graduated from MIT. He was recuited to NASA by Nicleel Nichols, Star Trek's original Uhura.
Robert McNair of the Space Shuttle Challenger graduated from MIT. He was recuited to NASA by Nicleel Nichols, Star Trek's original Uhura. | Source

"Top 10 Colleges in the World"

ULinks.com has researched their own Top 100 List.

This website is a directory for postsecondary education, arranged by Career Field on its home page and offering breakdowns into Colleges, Universities, Trade Schools, Community Colleges, and other categories.

The ULinks.com Top 10 include 8 American schools and 2 from the UK:

  1. Harvard University
  2. University of Oxford [UK]
  3. University of Cambridge [UK]
  4. Stanford University
  5. Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  6. University of California, Berkeley
  7. California Institute of Technology
  8. Princeton University
  9. Yale University
  10. University of Chicago

ULinks.com is a comprehensive directory of educational insitutions divided among the categories below and also by Creer Field.

Professional Resumes Top 10 Picks

"PROFESSIONAL RESUMES" website chose these Top 10:

  • Harvard University
  • Yale
  • Stanford University
  • University of Texas
  • New York University
  • Tulane University
  • University of California- Los Angeles
  • University of Southern California
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Columbia University

Recommendation for Residential Colleges

My top choice for a college or university is Franklin Residential College (FRC) in Atlanta Georgia.

The Franklin Residential College is a residential college built on the example of Oxford and Cambridge in the UK -- The entire faculty and students live in a single community and promote a constant environment of learning and good will. Done in Atlanta, it also promotes diversity and the type of good will that America needs.

MSU Residential College

Brooks Residential College

Since founding in 2000, FRC has become a premier residential system inpartnership with Franklin College of Arts and Sciences, the USG University Housing Office, and the Vice President of Instruction.

Colleges in some parts of Virginia follow the residential model and E. Gordon Gee, recent former President of The Ohio State University is working toward making OSU just such a residential learning community as well.

Other Colleges, Universities and similarities that I like are diversity-blessed and unique. You can read about them in my several Hubs regarding jobs in Metro Areas around the nation.

People of all ages are attending college classes in modern times, so look at some colleges n your area and requst some information for yourself or a friend.

Student Testimonials at Hillcroft College

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Comments 10 comments

Dave Saunders profile image

Dave Saunders 8 years ago from Washington, DC

Great hub and reference material.


peeling profile image

peeling 8 years ago

Nice hub, Patty. Personally speaking, when I was looking for a college, the most important thing on my mind was which one I'd be able to 'fit' into. You know, like not stand out as a geek or a misfit. If you're comfortable with the culture and atmosphere, it makes it so easy to focus on the education. Otherwise, you end up spending most of your time trying to become socially acceptable...


dutch84 profile image

dutch84 8 years ago

I looked for my college based on financial aid.


ahmu profile image

ahmu 8 years ago

well thanx for sharing this hub


solarshingles profile image

solarshingles 8 years ago from london

Patty, I would really like to observe you, while compiling your hubs. So professional, so well done, so very useful. Your condensed info about this topic here is just over the top...and I personally know a bit more about this topic...


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 8 years ago from North America Author

Thanks for all of the comments, Everyone!

The dozens of Top 10 lists for colleges irked me as not being helkpful to people in choosing schools; so, I took a bit of a different approach.

peeling - I like what you are saying and it is a good way to go.

solarshingles - The manner in which I organize material is almost subconscious at this point, I think. However, I loook for the best subtopics within a larger topic and sort of map it all out on the Hub and then fill it in. I look for the information until I find it and I have discovered many databases and resources. It all helps; but it really is like making an outline map and then filling it in. :)


solarshingles profile image

solarshingles 8 years ago from london

Patty, thank you for your very individual tips and tricks about designing your great and info rich hubs. Your analytic mind works for us to select only a number of information, which we could easily 'digest' - comprehend and than your integrative mind compose all in one hub (that's just my view). Your amazing number of composed hubs and their quality made me to wish to know more about your hubs creation processes. Thank you again!


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 8 years ago from North America Author

solarshingles - Thanks! I think Hub Pages helped me a lot in that this system made it possible for me to compose a piece almost entirely on the screen before my eyes. It really guided me away from printing ut in order to have a 3-D usual perspective. Now I can see it all very well on screen, so my brain has developed further. I like the analytic and integrative brain model as well.


compu-smart profile image

compu-smart 8 years ago from London UK

Hi Patty,

Thanks for this request answer and sharing your, as always great articles!! This is going to be very helpful to a friend,..

My college of "not choice" were approved schools!, some of the things i learned are pricelss and should actually be taught in colleges, but thats another article!


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 8 years ago from North America Author

I am glad you are enjoying this information, compu-smart! "not choice" is always interesting as well. :)

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