Best Colleges for 2018 Include Several ‘Value’ Schools

Photo by F8 studio / Shutterstock.com

U.S. News & World Report has released its 2018 Best Colleges rankings — with a new twist: The publication now provides postgraduate salary information from PayScale.

The U.S. News profile pages for these schools list the median starting salary for alumni who have zero to five years of postgraduate work experience and whose highest degree is a bachelor’s.

The U.S. Military Academy and U.S. Naval Academy tied for first, CBS News reports, with this type of graduate earning a median salary of $80,300. The California Institute of Technology comes in second with $78,400.

Robert Morse, chief data strategist at U.S. News, explains this new feature:

“[F]amilies and students have increasingly asked for more data on salary and potential earnings. We wanted to make this information easily available to them, but stress that it should be considered as one factor among many when deciding where to attend college.”

Alumni salaries were not used to determine school rankings.

Academic excellence remains the focus of the rankings. In particular, student outcomes such as graduation and freshman retention rates are weighted most heavily.

U.S. News editor and chief content officer Brian Kelly describes graduation and retention rates as “important indicators of how well a school supports its students both academically and financially.” He continues:

“Colleges that saddle students with debt but do little to support them through graduation are contributing to a vicious cycle — without that valuable degree, students will have a difficult time landing well-paying jobs and repaying their loans, which puts them in a precarious financial situation early on in their careers.”

Among all ranked schools in the National Universities category, the average six-year graduation rate is 71.7 percent and the average freshman retention rate is 87.2 percent.

By comparison, among the top 10 schools in that category, the average six-year graduate rate is 96 percent and the average freshman retention rate is 98.3 percent.

The top three schools in the main categories this year include the following:

National universities:

  • Princeton University, New Jersey
  • Harvard University, Massachusetts
  • University of Chicago (tie for third)
  • Yale University, Connecticut (tie for third)

National liberal arts colleges:

  • Williams College, Massachusetts
  • Amherst College, Massachusetts
  • Bowdoin College, Maine (tie for third)
  • Swarthmore College, Pennsylvania (tie for third)
  • Wellesley College, Massachusetts (tie for third)

Public national universities:

  • University of California-Berkeley (tie for first)
  • University of California-Los Angeles (tie for first)
  • University of Virginia
  • University of Michigan-Ann Arbor

Public national liberal arts colleges:

  • U.S. Military Academy, New York
  • U.S. Naval Academy, Maryland
  • U.S. Air Force Academy, Colorado

Before you write off the nation’s top schools as out of your price range, you might want to check out the Best Value category. Princeton, Harvard and Yale ranked highest here due to generous grants.

For more ways to save on college, check out “5 Ways to Dramatically Reduce the Cost of College.”

What’s your take on these schools? Share your thoughts below or on Facebook.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

Read Next
Big-Ticket Things You Should Never Buy
Big-Ticket Things You Should Never Buy

In this week’s podcast: Are you wasting big money on these common purchases?

5 Reasons You Should Retire Sooner, Not Later
5 Reasons You Should Retire Sooner, Not Later

Waiting until age 70 to retire isn’t for everyone. Could you be waiting too long?

10 Food Staples That Are Easy and Cheap to Make Yourself
10 Food Staples That Are Easy and Cheap to Make Yourself

Making any of these key foods yourself will improve meals — and your budget.

Grow Your Savings in 2020 With These 5 Tricks
Grow Your Savings in 2020 With These 5 Tricks

Saving money doesn’t have to be painful. Here are some ways to game yourself into stashing more cash.

This Is the Top Home Insurer — for 18 Years Running
This Is the Top Home Insurer — for 18 Years Running

Homeowners are increasingly unhappy with their insurance companies, but one stands out for the better.

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Most Popular
9 Things You’ll Never See at Costco Again
9 Things You’ll Never See at Costco Again

The warehouse store offers an enormous selection, but these products aren’t coming back.

11 Things Retirees Should Always Buy at Costco
11 Things Retirees Should Always Buy at Costco

This leader in bulk shopping is a great place to find discounts in the fixed-income years.

Over 50? The CDC Says You Need These 4 Vaccines
Over 50? The CDC Says You Need These 4 Vaccines

Fall is the time to schedule vaccines that can keep you healthy — and even save your life.

11 Household Items That Go Bad — or Become Dangerous
11 Household Items That Go Bad — or Become Dangerous

When you get the impulse to stockpile these everyday items, pay close attention to their expiration dates.

8 Things You Can Get for Free at Pharmacies
8 Things You Can Get for Free at Pharmacies

In this age of higher-priced drugs and complex health care systems, a trip to the pharmacy can spark worry. Freebies sure do help.

7 Ways to Boost Your Credit Score Fast
7 Ways to Boost Your Credit Score Fast

Your financial security might soon depend upon the strength of your credit score.

These Are the 4 Best Medicare Advantage Plans for 2020
These Are the 4 Best Medicare Advantage Plans for 2020

Medicare Advantage customers themselves rate these plans highest.

The 10 Most Commonly Stolen Vehicles in America
The 10 Most Commonly Stolen Vehicles in America

A new model parks atop the list of vehicles that thieves love to pilfer.

This Is the Cheapest Place to Buy a Used Car
This Is the Cheapest Place to Buy a Used Car

Looking for a good deal on a set of wheels? This should be your first stop.

19 High-Paying Jobs You Can Get With a 2-Year Degree
19 High-Paying Jobs You Can Get With a 2-Year Degree

These jobs pay more than the typical job in the U.S. — and no bachelor’s degree is required.

The 15 Worst States for Retirees in 2020
The 15 Worst States for Retirees in 2020

Based on dozens of metrics tied to affordability, quality of life and health care, these are not ideal places to spend retirement.

9 Deep Discounts Available on Amazon This Friday
9 Deep Discounts Available on Amazon This Friday

These items are all steeply discounted — but the deals won’t last long.

5 Ways to Get Amazon Prime for Free
5 Ways to Get Amazon Prime for Free

Hesitant to drop $119 a year on an Amazon Prime membership? Here’s how to get it for free.

11 Senior Discounts for Anyone Age 55 or Older
11 Senior Discounts for Anyone Age 55 or Older

There is no need to wait until you’re 65 to take advantage of so-called “senior” discounts.

26 States That Do Not Tax Social Security Income
26 States That Do Not Tax Social Security Income

These states won’t tax any of your Social Security income — and in some cases, other types of retirement income.

10 Reasons Why You Should Actually Retire at 62
10 Reasons Why You Should Actually Retire at 62

If you can, here are several good reasons to retire earlier than we’re told to.

3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free
3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free

With a little ingenuity, you can cut Office costs to zero.

5 Keys to Making Your Car Last for 200,000 Miles
5 Keys to Making Your Car Last for 200,000 Miles

Pushing your car to 200,000 miles — and beyond — can save you piles of cash. Here’s how to get there.

7 Surprising Features That Boost Your Home Value
7 Surprising Features That Boost Your Home Value

You can add value to your home without hiring a contractor to do expensive renovations.

View More Articles

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Add a Comment

Our Policy: We welcome relevant and respectful comments in order to foster healthy and informative discussions. All other comments may be removed. Comments with links are automatically held for moderation.