The best colleges for 2012 depend on what you’re looking to do. With well over a thousand accredited colleges and universities in the United States alone, choosing the one best suited to the individual student can be a daunting task.
Besides academic rigor, one must consider the school’s cost, size, course offerings, demographics, extra curricular activities, and any other idiosyncrasies that might bear on the nature of the fit.
Mid-tier schools, for instance, will all be fairly competitive with regard to academics, but they will vary widely in other aspects of their character.
The student interested in a large, demographically diverse population might consider, for instance, Loyola University (New Orleans, La.), Temple University (Philadelphia, Pa.), or DePaul University (Chicago, Ill.). Each consists of some twenty or more thousand students, a large proportion of them minorities or non-whites.
Smaller mid-tier universities with high diversity include St. Mary’s College of Maryland (St. Mary’s, Md.) and Pitzer College (Claremont, Ca.).
If cost is a factor, one should be aware that public schools often offer better academics than private ones, with greatly reduced cost. Some of the best public school values among large universities include the University of Florida (Gainesville, Fl.), the University of Washington (Seattle, Wa.), and the University of Texas-Austin.
For students who weight their social life heavly, one should consider the quality of the institution’s facilities, which often aid community among students. Student involvement at athletic events is high at schools such as Ohio State University-Columbus and West Virginia University, and athletic facilities are of high quality at Ohio State University-Columbus and the University of Missouri (Columbia, Miss.).
For the student interested in Greek life, Mississippi College and Texas Christian University (Fort Worth, Tx.) provide plentiful options.
For the best schools all-around, consider the U.S. News and World Report, which publishes an annual list of the best colleges and universities in the country, based on criteria such as reputation, quality of faculty resources, selectivity, graduation and retention rates, financial resources, alumni giving, and graduation rate performance.
Best All Around:
Some of the best all-around mid-tier and smaller institutions include Occidental College (Los Angeles, Ca.), Furman University (Greenville, SC), and Denison University (Granville, Oh) among smaller colleges.
The University of California-Davis, George Washington University (Washington, D.C.), and Baylor University (Waco, Tx.) are great, all-around, mid-tier universities that are a bit larger.
With so many great choices and opportunities, the student’s best tack is to narrow down what aspects of college life are most important to him or her, and then to formulate a list of the best suited colleges on that basis.
We hope this helps!
~ The Student Central Team