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Forbes University Rankings 2012

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If you’re currently deciding between college programs, looking at rankings can help you learn more about the schools you’re considering. While this is just a first step in learning more about each college, you should take in the information from as many university rankings as possible. One of the newest lists is compiled by Forbes and their companion website, Forbes.com.

About Forbes

While Forbes is an old and well-respected business magazine, they have only been compiling their college list, known as “America’s Best Colleges,” since 2008. They’re well-known for other major lists of importance, such as the Forbes 400, which is an annual list of the richest people in the United States. They haven’t officially called the America’s Best Colleges list an annual list, but they have updated it annual so far, so it seems as though this is the direction in which they’re heading.

The Forbes college list is unique in that it focuses on liberal arts colleges, rather than just rehashing other lists, which put a greater emphasis on the sciences. They have been praised for including schools that are not typically found on other lists, rather than focusing on Ivy League schools. Others have criticized their methodology, since it takes a number of non-conformable statistics into consideration.

Ranking Methodology

Many other magazines and organizations rely on surveys to compile their list, but Forbes’ approach is to gather information from fresh sources. Some of the factors considered when they compile their list include the following:

  • Student Graduation Rate
  • Alumni Inclusion in Who’s Who in America
  • Alumni Salary, as reported on PayScale.com
  • Professor Ratings and Evaluations, as reported on RateMyProfessor.com
  • Debt Accumulated by Students over the Course of Four Years
  • National Honors and Awards given to Students and Professors

In addition to providing the America’s Best College list, Forbes has also compiled a list that they call the “Top Colleges for Getting Rich.” This list relies on data mostly from PayScale.com, where alumni can report their earnings. However, this list has been criticized, since there is no way to confirm the reported salaries of alumni on PayScale.com and it is suspected that the reports on that website are skewed, since people have the option to give their salary or not. There have been a number of surprising schools included on this list, while other, more prominent schools have ranked lower.

Whether or not you want to believe that this list is technical and accurate doesn’t dismiss the fact that it is a unique view of the colleges you are considering. The Forbes list should just be one of the many college rankings lists you read, and on top of that, it is important to not rely too heavily on these lists. While they are useful tools for gathering information, other factors, like talking to professors and visiting campuses, are just as valuable.

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