Princeton, Williams Top College Survey of Best Colleges

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    (CNN) — Princeton pulled ahead of Harvard to claim first place in the “best national universities” category in U.S. News & World Report’s annual ranking of nearly 1,800 schools.

    Williams College again claimed sole possession of the top spot in the Best National Liberal Arts Colleges category.

    This year’s methodology put more emphasis on student outcomes and less on where students ranked in their high school classes.

    Also this year, the difference between predicted and actual graduation rates was applied for the first time to Regional Universities and Regional Colleges.

    The magazine increased the weight given to graduation and retention rates in the National Universities and National Liberal Arts Colleges categories, meaning that outcome-related measures were the most heavily weighted factors.

    When cost was weighed, Williams — at an average of $19,251 per year after grants based on need were factored in — fell to No. 3, behind Barnard (rated second at $12,282 per year after grants) and Amherst (rated first at $16,286 after grants).

    Best-value regional universities were identified as Gallaudet, Carey, Creighton and Trinity.

    Cited as best-value regional colleges were Cooper Union, John Brown University, College of the Ozarks and California Maritime Academy.

    “U.S. News strives to provide students and their families with the most comprehensive data available,” Bob Morse, director of data research, said in a statement. “Measuring outcomes is critical to understanding how well a school retains and educates its students.”

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