Naming the best of anything is subjective. Even when criteria are established and used to evaluate all of the things being compared, those criteria are based on someone’s opinion.
When it comes to rating universities, there are a number of organizations that do so, and the results do vary.b
But when it comes to rating national universities, there are some good criteria that organizations have come up with.
Most Comprehensive Criteria Used
The following ranking criteria seem to be used by reputable rating organizations:
- Retention and graduation rates
- Graduation rate of students on pell grants
- Undergraduate academic records
- Amount of student loan debt and prospects for paying it off once in career positions
- Faculty resources: these include such things as the percentage of full-time vs. part-time, average class size, and overall faculty-student ratio
- SAT/ACT scores of entering freshmen
- School’s financial resources (aid) for its students
- Rate of alumni giving
- Breadth of academic p
Much of this information is gathered from schools themselves based upon their own reporting.
Top 10 Schools
So, based upon the criteria above, here are the top 10 national universities in 2021.
Princeton is a private, secular school that offers a full range of academic programs, a good faculty-student ratio, solid alumni support, and a high retention and graduation rate. Its huge endowment means that it can provide financial aid to students in need and support research and development. Tuition is in the mid $50,000 range.
This is the oldest university in the U.S., founded to train clergy, but eventually becoming a secular school with 13 different academic programs today. Like Princeton, tuition runs in the mid-$50,000 range, but heavy endowment and alumni giving support not just program growth but liberal financial aid when needed.
Located in New York City, Columbia has three undergrad schools – Columbia College, Engineering and Applied Science, and General Studies. Its graduate programs are considered some of the best in the country – especially medicine, law, and journalism.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
MIT is located just outside of Boston, has an attractive student/faculty ratio, and a great retention/graduation rate. It is most known for its science and technology programs but offers a broad range of other programs too. Graduate programs are considered premier.
Located in New Haven, Connecticut, Yale University is famous for its music and drama programs, but it also has 12 graduate and professional schools, including law, medicine, and management. It has famous graduates among actors, journalists, and politicians. Class sizes are small, and the overall student/faculty ratio is excellent.
With a student/faculty ratio of 5:1, Stanford is located near San Francisco. It has seven schools, 4 for undergrads, and three for undergrad and grad students. Undergrad programs cover all curricular areas, and grad programs include law, medicine, education, engineering, and business.
University of Chicago
University of Chicago is located just as the name states. It offers 50 majors and 40 minors and has renowned grad programs in law, medicine, business, and public policy, and has a strong study abroad component. Tuition and fees run about $60,000.
University of Pennsylvania
Founded by Benjamin Franklin, U. of Penn. Has 12 schools that cover all curricular areas. Its grad programs include Wharton School of Business, a well as those in law, medicine, education, and engineering.
California Institute of Technology
Located in Pasadena, CalTech offers a wide range of undergraduate programs but is best known for its grad programs in engineering and the sciences. It is a research-based school, even for undergrads.
Johns Hopkins University
The nine schools include public health, education, engineering, medicine, and international studies. It has other campuses in Washington, D.C., Italy, and China. It is probably most famous for its research hospital on the Baltimore Campus.
Admissions requirements to these schools are rigorous, and costs are high. And applications must be perfect, and a student has to be the best writer he can be. Or they can find the best essay writer service. Fortunately, all of them do have liberal financial aid offerings to those who qualify. High school students with their eye on any of these schools must be tops in their class.