Top Colleges in America

With as many options of colleges and universities as there are being offered in the United States, the best of the best, top colleges in America are truly, exceptionally impressive. But the esteem and prestige surrounding these schools makes them, let’s face it, not particularly easy to be admitted into.

However, the low acceptance rate to these top schools is, by no means, a sound reason for you to back out of sending in your application. All of you motivated high-achievers and driven students with the right grades, SAT scores, and extracurricular activities should embrace the chance and apply to those top-notch, big name schools. The absolute worst case scenario is that you are not admitted into a top university. But there is a reason it is common knowledge that everyone should have their safety schools, middle schools, and reach schools!

So for the people interested in or eyeing those prominent Ivys and superior universities, here is a list of the top ten colleges in America for the 2012- 2013 academic calendar year as ranked annually by US News.

Take note that several universities that appear on the list are tied in rank, so you may see certain rank numbers repeatedly. The tied schools are placed on the list either before or behind each other solely due to alphabetical sequencing. There are also eleven schools that rank within the top ten best schools in the country.

1). Harvard University (Cambridge, Massachusetts)

  • Admission: 6.3%
  • Undergraduate Enrollment: 6,657
  • School Type: Private, coed
  • Setting: City
  • Academic Calendar: Semester
  • Religious Affiliation: None
  • Athletic Association: NCAA Division I

Academic Stats (Provided by the College Board)

  • Required Tests: SAT or ACT with writing component, At least two SAT subject tests
  • Class Ranks of Incoming Freshmen: 95% within top tenth percentile
  • GPA of Incoming Freshmen: 87% had grade point averages of 3.75+
  • SAT Mid-Range: 2120-2390
  • ACT Mid-Range: 32-35

It seems as if this legendary private university has dominated the peak of college ranking lists for quite some time now, and for good reason. Located near the city of Boston, this Ivy League school only admits about six percent of the applicants they receive. The class sizes at Harvard are typically very small, with less than twenty students per classroom and a student to faculty ratio of seven to one.

Harvard is the alma mater of eight United States presidents, including John F. Kennedy and Franklin D. Roosevelt, as well as many other notable intellectuals. Celebrities such as Natalie Portman, Rashida Jones, and Conan O’Brien graduated from this famous school as well.

Harvard is the school that receives the largest endowment in the world.

1). Princeton University (Princeton, New Jersey)

  • Admission: 8.5%
  • Undergraduate Enrollment: 5,249
  • School Type: Private, coed
  • Setting: Suburban
  • Academic Calendar: Semester
  • Religious Affiliation: None
  • Athletic Association: NCAA Division I

Academic Stats (Provided by the College Board)

  • Required Tests: SAT or ACT with writing component, At least two SAT subject tests
  • Class Ranks of Incoming Freshmen: 96% within top tenth percentile
  • GPA of Incoming Freshmen: 86% had grade point averages of 3.75+
  • SAT Mid-Range: 2120-2390
  • ACT Mid-Range: 31-35

Tied with Harvard as the best college in America, Princeton University offers its students a picturesque setting on an ivy-covered historic campus. It is located only a train ride away from both New York City and Philadelphia.

Princeton University has been integrating its status as a high-power research school with its capabilities of a top liberal arts school, allowing students a rare experience of both. The school is also famed for both its men’s and women’s strong lacrosse teams.

Some famous alumni include United States president Woodrow Wilson, Brook Shields, and Michelle Obama.

The student to faculty ratio is six to one, and about seventy percent of the class sizes are less than twenty students per class.

3). Yale University (New Haven, Connecticut)

  • Admission: 7.7%
  • Undergraduate Enrollment: 5,349
  • School Type: Private, coed
  • Setting: City
  • Academic Calendar: Semester
  • Religious Affiliation: None
  • Athletic Association: NCAA Division I

Academic Stats (Provided by the College Board)

  • Required Tests: SAT or ACT with writing component, At least two SAT subject tests
  • Class Ranks of Incoming Freshmen: 96% within top tenth percentile
  • GPA of Incoming Freshmen: Not reported
  • SAT Mid-Range: 2120-2390
  • ACT Mid-Range: 32-35

Yale is eminently known as for its position as a central rival of Harvard’s, as well as for its outstanding music and drama programs. Yale is also famous for its legendary secret societies.

Notable Yale alumni include actresses Meryl Streep and Claire Danes, and television personality and news anchor Anderson Cooper.

Yale has a student faculty ration of five to one, with almost eighty percent of classes being reported as having less than twenty students each.

4). Columbia University (New York, New York)

  • Admission: 7.0%
  • Undergraduate Enrollment: 6,027
  • School Type: Private, coed
  • Setting: Urban
  • Academic Calendar: Semester
  • Religious Affiliation: None
  • Athletic Association: NCAA Division I

Academic Stats (Provided by the College Board)

  • Required Tests: SAT or ACT with writing component, At least two SAT subject tests
  • Class Ranks of Incoming Freshmen: Not reported
  • GPA of Incoming Freshmen: Not reported
  • SAT Mid-Range: 2080-2350
  • ACT Mid-Range: 31-34

Columbia University’s campus consists of thirty-six acres in the heart of New York City in Manhattan. It is well known for both its journalism and dental graduate school programs.

Columbia is unique in that the university is the one to manage and oversee the Pulitzer prizes.

U.S. president Barack Obama and actress Maggie Gyllenhaal both have undergraduate degrees from Columbia University.

The school’s student faculty ratio is six to one, with about eighty percent of classes containing fewer than twenty students.

4). University of Chicago (Chicago, Illinois)

  • Admission: 16.3%
  • Undergraduate Enrollment: 5,388
  • School Type: Private, coed
  • Setting: Urban
  • Academic Calendar: Quarter
  • Religious Affiliation: None
  • Athletic Association: NCAA Division III

Academic Stats (Provided by the College Board)

  • Required Tests: SAT or ACT with writing component
  • Class Ranks of Incoming Freshmen: 97% within top tenth percentile
  • GPA of Incoming Freshmen: 84% had grade point averages of 3.75+
  • SAT Mid-Range: 2120-2350
  • ACT Mid-Range: 31-34

Sitting on 215 acres, the University of Chicago offers students an integrated typical college campus life as well as a big-city experience. The school is known for having great NCAA Division III basketball and wrestling teams.

Within dorm life, students are placed in “houses” and given an opportunity to create closer relationships.

The university also holds a tradition of hosting the University of Chicago Scavenger Hunt, an event that lasts for four days.

University of Chicago has a student faculty ration of six to one, with seventy-five percent of classes holding less than twenty students.

6). Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Cambridge, Massachusetts)

  • Admission: 9.7%
  • Undergraduate Enrollment: 4,384
  • School Type: Private, coed
  • Setting: Urban
  • Academic Calendar: 4-1-4
  • Religious Affiliation: None
  • Athletic Association: NCAA Division III

Academic Stats (Provided by the College Board)

  • Required Tests: SAT or ACT with writing component, SAT subject tests in math and science
  • Class Ranks of Incoming Freshmen: 98% within top tenth percentile
  • GPA of Incoming Freshmen: Not reported
  • SAT Mid-Range: 2090-2350
  • ACT Mid-Range: 32-35

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology, better known simply as MIT, boasts students who are remarkably gifted in the math and sciences, particularly in engineering and mechanical skills. The school is focused on technological and scientific research.

The student faculty ration is eight to one, with almost sixty-seven percent of classes having sizes less than twenty students each.

6). Stanford University (Stanford, California)

  • Admission: 7.1%
  • Undergraduate Enrollment: 6,988
  • School Type: Private, coed
  • Setting: Suburban
  • Academic Calendar: Quarter
  • Religious Affiliation: None
  • Athletic Association: NCAA Division 1

Academic Stats (Provided by the College Board)

  • Required Tests: SAT or ACT with writing component
  • Class Ranks of Incoming Freshmen: 94% within top tenth percentile
  • GPA of Incoming Freshmen: 92% had grade point averages of 3.75+
  • SAT Mid-Range: 2080-2350
  • ACT Mid-Range: 31-34

Stanford University has a sprawling, beautiful campus located near Palo Alto, California. The campus sits on 8,180 acres in the San Francisco Bay Area. Stanford is successful in both its athletic teams (particularly in tennis and golf), as well as its musical and theatrical groups.

As fierce rivals of Cal (UC Berkeley), Stanford is also known for the traditional “Big Game”, where the university awards the Stanford Axe trophy to the victor of the annual football competition.

Distinguished Stanford alumni include U.S. president Hebert Hoover, golfer Tiger Woods, and beach volleyball Olympian Kerri Walsh Jennings.

The student faculty ratio is five to one, with almost seventy percent of classes holding less than twenty students each.

8). Duke University (Durham, North Carolina)

  • Admission: 14.0%
  • Undergraduate Enrollment: 6,680
  • School Type: Private, coed
  • Setting: Suburban
  • Academic Calendar: Semester
  • Religious Affiliation: Methodist
  • Athletic Association: NCAA Division I

Academic Stats (Provided by the College Board)

  • Required Tests: SAT or ACT with writing component, At least two SAT subject tests
  • Class Ranks of Incoming Freshmen: 92% within top tenth percentile
  • GPA of Incoming Freshmen: Not reported
  • SAT Mid-Range: 2040-2330
  • ACT Mid-Range: 30-34

Duke University is located on 8,709 acres of suburban land, and is celebrated for its men’s basketball team, where they are rivals with the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Both Melinda Gates, wife of Bill Gates, and U.S. Congressman Ron Paul call Duke University their alma mater.

The school has a student faculty ratio of seven to one, and almost seventy-two percent of classes have sizes of less than twenty students each.

8). University of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)

  • Admission: 12.4%
  • Undergraduate Enrollment: 9,779
  • School Type: Private, coed
  • Setting: Urban
  • Academic Calendar: Semester
  • Religious Affiliation: None
  • Athletic Association: NCAA Division I

Academic Stats (Provided by the College Board)

  • Required Tests: SAT or ACT with writing component, At least two SAT subject tests
  • Class Ranks of Incoming Freshmen: 94% within top tenth percentile
  • GPA of Incoming Freshmen: 89% had grade point averages of 3.75+
  • SAT Mid-Range: 2030-2310
  • ACT Mid-Range: 30-34

U-Penn is conveniently located right in the city of Philadelphia and has very successful lacrosse and basketball teams. Penn is extremely well known for many of its excelling academic programs, some of which include its Wharton School of Business, School of Education, School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, School of Medicine, School of Law, and its Design School and dental program.

Both Donald Trump and United States President William Henry Harrison graduated Penn.

Penn has a student faculty ratio of six to one, and almost seventy two percent of its classes have fewer than twenty students.

10). California Institute of Technology (Pasadena, California)

  • Admission: 12.8%
  • Undergraduate Enrollment: 978
  • School Type: Private, coed
  • Setting: Suburban
  • Academic Calendar: Quarter
  • Religious Affiliation: None
  • Athletic Association: NCAA Division III

Academic Stats (Provided by the College Board)

  • Required Tests: SAT or ACT with writing component, SAT subject tests in math level 2C, and science (biology, chemistry, or physics)
  • Class Ranks of Incoming Freshmen: 94% within top tenth percentile
  • GPA of Incoming Freshmen: Not reported
  • SAT Mid-Range: 2220-2380
  • ACT Mid-Range: 34-35

The California Institute of Technology, or Caltech, is an extremely small private university with less than a thousand undergraduate students enrolled. The university emphasizes science and engineering, and offers the top graduate programs in related math and science fields. Caltech is considered one of the world’s leading science and research institutions along with MIT.

Caltech dominates in its research and consistently receives grants from the likes of NASA, the National Science Foundation, the Department of Health and Human Services, etc.

Caltech boasts an extremely rare student faculty ratio of three to one, and sixty-three percent of classes hold fewer than twenty students.

10). Dartmouth College (Hanover, New Hampshire)

  • Admission: 10.1%
  • Undergraduate Enrollment: 4,194
  • School Type: Private, coed
  • Setting: Rural
  • Academic Calendar: Quarter
  • Religious Affiliation: None
  • Athletic Association: NCAA Division I

Academic Stats (Provided by the College Board)

  • Required Tests: SAT or ACT with writing component, At least two SAT subject tests
  • Class Ranks of Incoming Freshmen: 90% within top tenth percentile
  • GPA of Incoming Freshmen: Not reported
  • SAT Mid-Range: 2030-2350
  • ACT Mid-Range: 30-34

Dartmouth College is an Ivy League school located in a rural setting and offers a wide variety of student organizations and clubs. About twenty percent of students at Dartmouth participate in NCAA Division I sports, and sixty percent are involved in Greek life.

Theodore Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss, graduated from Dartmouth College.

Dartmouth’s student faculty ratio is eight to one. Almost sixty-five percent of classes are of sizes less than twenty students each.

For the extensive list of nationally ranked colleges, go here.

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Ashley Yang

Ashley Yang

Ashley Yang will be entering her junior year at the University of California, Davis in the fall, where she is pursuing a double major in Economics and Communication. Outside of class, she loves to see her friends and family, jam out to T-Swift, make smoothies, and curl up and unwind with a relaxing book. Other interests of hers include ballet and gymnastics, skiing, travel, volunteer work, chick-flick movies, animals, and Christmas.
Ashley Yang

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