December 5th, 2011

First day of school

Go William and Mary! Number 5 in the country!

With this inaugural 2011-2012 edition of The Best Colleges Top 50 Colleges and Universities in America we set out to create a college ranking that exceeds all the others in focusing on what really matters to students and those who may be helping foot the bill for their education. We’ve gone beyond investigating standard indicators of academic quality and student satisfaction used by other major ranking systems to also consider indicators of the economic value of a school and the quality of life offered by the city or town it is located in.

Choosing a college is one of the most important decisions a person will ever make. The quality of social and economic opportunities opened up to a person in their lifetime will in large part be determined by whether and where they choose to go to school. In some respects, to choose a college is to choose a future. That’s why many people talk about college education as an investment. Students (and their parents!) pour enormous amounts of money into tuition, fees, books and living expenses, not to mention all the time and effort, expecting to get something in return. Naturally, they want to know they are making a smart choice in where to invest their time and money.

The Best Colleges and Universities in America 2011

They want to know they will receive a quality education among other highly qualified students where they can get the kind of individualized attention from professors that they deserve. And so in generating our rankings The Best Colleges awarded schools with competitive admissions and a low student-to-faculty ratio.

They want to know they are in a place that other students really want to be and that has a track record of students satisfied enough to stick with a program and finish. And so The Best Colleges awarded schools with high rates of enrollment, retention and graduation.

Students also want to know that the place they will be living for the next four (or more) years will be a place where they can hang out and make connections with other young, successful and highly educated people, while not having to go broke to do it. And so The Best Colleges awarded schools in locations with more youthful, wealthy and highly educated populations and a low cost of living.

And finally, especially during tough economic times like these, students (and their parents) want to know that when they graduate they won’t be overburdened by student loan debt and will have a good chance of making a decent income. And so The Best Colleges awarded colleges with low tuition, generous financial aid, and a track record of graduating students who go on to make a good living.

#5 The College of William and Mary

America’s oldest public university offers an “Ivy League” quality education at a public school price, augmented by a commitment to ensuring low and middle-income Virginian students are able to graduate debt-free.

In historic Williamsburg, VA students can take advantage of the beautiful surroundings and a below average cost of living.

Check out the rest of the list: