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By Education Team | 16 June 2021

9 Best Colleges in the US

9 Best Colleges

With 5,300 colleges and universities in the United States, it can be hard to determine which schools rise to the top of the pack. Each offers its own unique opportunities and characteristics that appeal to individuals applying, and for many students, it is a personal decision based on what appeals most to them.

However, the U.S. News and World Report has set out to objectively assess the best colleges in the US in order to determine the top schools among the thousands. These colleges and universities are the cream of the crop, delivering long histories of academic excellence, preparedness and opportunities for postgraduate studies and employment, and strong leadership and innovation among their graduates. Here are the top 9 schools according to the U.S. News and World Report.

Princeton University

First on the list is arguably one of the most prestigious universities in the country, and also one of the oldest. Founded in 1746, this Ivy League school has graduated bright scholars and leaders for nearly 300 years. As a major research university, Princeton offers its students an unparalleled education in the arts, sciences, and humanities that aims to prepare them for a life of service and leadership. The university places a curricular emphasis on exploration across disciplines, encouraging students to take classes in a variety of subject areas in order to achieve the most well-rounded education during their four undergraduate years. All students have access to top-notch libraries, laboratories, museums, and many other important academic resources. The small class sizes and one-to-one faculty advising ensure that students have optimal access to the knowledge and experiences of their exceptional professors.

Harvard University

Chartered in 1636 as a Puritanical school, Harvard is the oldest higher education institution in the United States. As one of the Ivy League colleges, it has a long history as one of the most distinguished universities in the country and the world. Harvard College, the undergraduate liberal arts school within the larger university, provides all students with a comprehensive foundation for further studies or careers regardless of their chosen major. The school aims to help students grow in their social, intellectual, and personal skills and pursuits during their time at Harvard. The small class sizes and student to faculty ratio create a close-knit, collaborative, and supportive community of teachers and learners. Home to the largest library in the world, Harvard also has several art and science museums, including some that are used for research and are only available to students and faculty.

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Columbia University

One of four schools tied for third place among the best colleges in the US, Columbia University also has a long heritage of educating national and global leaders and influencers. Established in 1754, this Ivy League school offers over 80 different majors as part of its three undergraduate colleges. Columbia aims to offer a top-tier education that graduates individuals who will influence research, scholarship, and relationships on a global level. The unique urban setting of this campus offers students easy access to the cultural, social, and networking opportunities that abound in New York City. As a leading research institution, Columbia uses the advantage of its location and access to a diverse population to study causes important to the nation and the world. The combination of the exceptional quality of the teaching faculty and this prime location provide students with an educational experience that is completely unique from any other college.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Founded in 1861, this institution of higher learning, which is also tied for third-best college in the United States, is relatively newer than the previous schools on the list. The academics at MIT, as it is colloquially known, are unique in that the curricula are primarily focused on areas of study within engineering, physical and biological sciences, and mathematics. The school encourages collaboration among students and faculty with the ultimate goal of shaping the future through inventions. Students are encouraged to view the campus as a workshop and explore, innovate, and design. The unique 4-1-4 academic calendar further supports this by encouraging students to spend the Independent Activities Period during winter term delving deeper into their passions, interests, and trying something new.

University of Chicago

The University of Chicago was founded in 1890. Although it has had less time to establish its legacy than other schools on the list, the fact that it ties for third on this list of best colleges is indicative of how strong the academics and opportunities are. The curricula at this university encourage students to engage in debate, inquiry, and collaboration in order to prepare them for postgraduate success. The core curriculum is designed to be interdisciplinary in order to help students develop analytical, critical thinking, and writing skills necessary for continuing studies or on any career path. The urban setting of Chicago provides more access to cultural, social, and employment opportunities than many other schools on the list, lending to its high ranking.

Yale University

Yale University, the last of the schools tied for third place, was established in 1701. In addition to being one of the earliest chartered colleges, the university is arguably one of the most well known for its prestige and rigorous academic programs. Yale encourages students to acquire a broad academic base while developing a strong skill set in their chosen discipline. Small class sizes and 7:1 student to faculty ratio helps students to connect with the teaching faculty and personalizes the learning experience. As a research university, the school provides opportunities for students to work closely with faculty to investigate, discover, and patent new and exciting ideas. The college also offers a variety of internships, study abroad opportunities, and other special programs in order to set their education apart from other comparable schools.

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Stanford University

This university, founded in 1885, is another relative newcomer on the list. The college was developed under the guiding principles of preparing students to be successful, useful, and a positive impact on society. These tenets are still at the forefront of the college’s mission in the present day as a top research university. Students are encouraged to collaborate closely with faculty and with one another to propose and carry out approved projects that are funded by the university. Within required and elective coursework, the university faculty take a multidisciplinary approach to encourage students to develop a strong foundation of knowledge while pursuing excellence in their selected major. In addition to being academically sound, Stanford is also a leader in environmental sustainability on college campuses.

Duke University

While Duke University is well known for its athletics, it also offers an exceptional education to its students. The Division I school was founded in 1838 as a rural subscription school, though now serves as a leader among research institutions of higher learning. In this regard, the university provides students with ample opportunities to work to make a difference in the community and the world through research, service, and leadership opportunities. Duke offers 61 degree programs to undergraduate students across 20 liberal arts and engineering fields of study. The college prides itself on being a global university, both welcoming international students to enroll at its campus and encouraging domestic students to experience a travel abroad program.

The University of Pennsylvania

Established in 1740 and tied for eighth place with Duke, the University of Pennsylvania is another Ivy League college that has been around for centuries and has a long and storied history of academic excellence. Notably started by founding father Benjamin Franklin, the university carries on his values of exploration through research, intellectual achievement, and service to society. The college has four undergraduate schools offering degree programs in engineering and applied sciences, liberal arts and sciences, nursing, and business. The schools offer many interdisciplinary majors that allow students to further broaden their knowledge base and experiences for success following graduation.