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2012 Best Value Colleges – Princeton Review’s list

Written by Nickel - 26 Comments

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The Best Values in Colleges

Do you have kids that are nearing college age? If so, you might be interested in this… It’s Princeton Review’s list of the best value colleges for 2012.

Schools are ranked on quality of undergraduate academics, costs to attend (including room and board), and financial aid availability. The key to ranking high is thus to provide a top notch education while keeping things affordable, either through low tuition or generous aid packages.

Here are the top ten public schools:

  1. UNC Chapel Hill (Chapel Hill, NC)
  2. University of Virginia (Charlottesville, VA)
  3. New College of Florida (Sarasota, FL)
  4. SUNY Binghamton (Binghamton, NY)
  5. University of Wisconsin (Madison, WI)
  6. College of William and Mary (Williamsburg, VA)
  7. University of Florida (Gainesville, FL)
  8. University of Georgia (Athens, GA)
  9. University of Washington (Seattle, WA)
  10. University of Texas at Austin

And here are the top ten private schools:

  1. Williams College (Williamstown, MA)
  2. Swarthmore College (Swarthmore, PA)
  3. Princeton University (Princeton, NJ)
  4. Harvard College (Cambridge, MA)
  5. Rice University (Houston, TX)
  6. Pomona College (Claremont, CA)
  7. Washington University (St. Louis, MO)
  8. Yale University (New Haven, CT)
  9. California Institute of Technology (Pasadena, CA)
  10. Hamilton College (Hamilton, NY)

Overall, they ranked the top 150 schools (75 public and 75 private) from an initial list of 650 institutions with a reputation for having excellent academics.

What do you think? Do you give lists like this much weight? There are certainly a number of excellent schools listed above, both public and private. Is your undergrad alma mater on the list? Mine isn’t… But I still turned out okay. 😉


Source: Princeton Review

Published on February 9th, 2012 - 26 Comments
Filed under: Education

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Comments (scroll down to add your own):

  1. I’m more of a value of the degree (i.e. discipline, etc.) than value of the school guy. But I like lists like these because they continue the conversation about associating a value calculation with going to college instead of just “borrow as much as you can because you need to go to college.” I’ve always been a “buy enough college” guy.

    If people spent as much time choosing college as they do trying to “save 15% on car insurance” I think the world would be a much different place… 🙂

    Comment by Anonymous — Feb 9th 2012 @ 1:19 pm
  2. Is a poli sci degree from Princeton worth anymore than one from a SUNY school? I wonder..

    Comment by Anonymous — Feb 9th 2012 @ 3:46 pm
  3. ugh, unfortunately I have college costs coming up soon, but I do agree with Nick, value is important, so is the “college experience”. I don’t usually give much weight to these lists and only glance at them to see if my alma mater is listed, the good thing about this list though is UNC, it’s 30 minutes from my house 😉

    Comment by Anonymous — Feb 9th 2012 @ 3:47 pm
  4. My spouse and I both earned bachelor’s and graduate degrees at a state college which is not on the list. Due to our chosen majors, we both earn well over six figures. So going to a more expensive school was not necessary for us.

    Comment by Anonymous — Feb 9th 2012 @ 7:01 pm
  5. I’m a UVa grad, definitely a great school. Not so sure UNC should be #1 though :-). Anyone lucky enough to live in Virginia has an incredible selection of state schools to choose from. I think the same goes for NC also.

    Comment by Anonymous — Feb 10th 2012 @ 8:32 am
  6. I wonder if the public school rankings are based on out of state tuition rates or in state? It would seem to me that your in state school is generally a much better bargain as far as price compared to paying out of state tuition rates.

    Comment by Anonymous — Feb 10th 2012 @ 5:36 pm
  7. I have a hard time buying these lists when I see a school like Harvard on it. The price of tuition at Harvard is $37K per year.

    UNC is better, but it’s still $7K a year.

    Even if they give you a scholarship for 80% of that, it’s still far more expensive than a school that is truly a good value, such as (a couple of schools local to me) Brigham Young University or someplace like Weber State University (both around $4K). But usually, these lists count student loans just as much as grants/scholarships. That’s stupid. They also weigh in factors such as quality of the education. But they weigh them too heavily. Harvard, Yale, Princeton, CIT etc are the best values? Then what are the best schools period? Oh wait….same schools. Doesn’t pass the sniff test. Unless someone believes the education at Harvard is 10 times better than the one at Weber State, it’s tough to argue it’s a better value.

    Comment by Anonymous — Feb 13th 2012 @ 1:22 pm
  8. The thing with these lists is that you have to consider the source. This list was compiled by the Princeton Review. Surprise, but Princeton is number 3 on the list. I graduated from The University of Missouri – Rolla (Currently named Missouri Science and Technology). Their focus was a quality education and preparation for entering the workforce upon graduation. One thing they touted during recruiting was and still is the high percentage of students who actually get internships, multiple job offers, and or placement into graduate programs at other schools. As an out of state student, financial aid was readily available for the majority of students. The only loans I had upon graduation were 0% interest that I applied for because they had a hard time giving away all of their available funds!

    10 years later, I’ve earned over $1.5 million on my educational investment, and making enough to piss off the 99%ers.

    Comment by Anonymous — Feb 26th 2012 @ 8:27 pm
  9. And you didn’t include the service academies because???

    Comment by Anonymous — Feb 27th 2012 @ 12:34 am
  10. Here’s one for you: SUNY Utica, where you can earn a degree in Electrical Technology and become an Electrician…now that’s a useful, productive and profitable discipline. I’d like to see some institution offer a degree in Plumbing. Talk about lucrative professions and a demand needing to be satisfied, did you ever try getting hold of one or the other? It’s harder than getting an appointment with your proctologist, and more expensive for just about the same work.

    Comment by Anonymous — Feb 27th 2012 @ 7:41 am
  11. I wonder just how objective is this study. As cost effectiveness goes any of the Univ. of TN schools or TBR schools( MTSU, TTU, E. TN St. etc.) would have to be at the top of the list because of TN’s Hope Scholarship program. If you live in TN and have a 3.0 GPA, you get $6,000 per year for tuition costs and it is good every year for five years. The Knoxville campus cost less than $9,000 per year, so the actual cost is only three grand per year. Are there any other states that have programs like this?
    Both of my daughters and their husbands graduated from UT Chattanooga with degrees from early childhood ed, computer science, electrical eng, and my eldest has a MS in Public Admin. All of them graduated with “0” debt and I only helped with their books. Pretty good deal if you ask me.

    Comment by Anonymous — Feb 27th 2012 @ 7:52 am
  12. Hamilton College is in Clinton, NY. Colgate University is in Hamilton, NY.

    Which on is #10 on your Private School list?

    Comment by Anonymous — Feb 27th 2012 @ 8:32 am
  13. Apparently Princeton doesn’t fact check it’s stories, Hamilton College is not in Hamilton, NY. Colgate College is. Hamilton College is in Clinton, NY. I guess a Princeton degree is not that much of a bargain.

    Comment by Anonymous — Feb 27th 2012 @ 8:35 am
  14. I retired from teaching College mathematics after 40 years. Refelections –
    – A lot of the curricula at undergraduate levels while useful, are for the most part useless in finding meaningful employment. On the other hand it does matter where you get your advanced degree.
    – Today’s undergraduates are not as well schooled as the good high school graduates were say, 75 years ago. That’s a very very poor assessment of public education when you consider the cost.
    – Education Department’s in almost all Colleges, produce a substandard product regardless of the degree attained. Many of the Ph.D dissertations that I have personally looked at are nothing more than rubbish.

    Comment by Anonymous — Feb 27th 2012 @ 10:02 am
  15. Why isn’t Berea College on the private college list. All of the students that are admitted to the school, have 100% of their tution covered by scholarships. When I graduated from Berea, I owed $1000. $500 of that was for dental work at the school.

    Comment by Anonymous — Feb 27th 2012 @ 10:05 am
  16. The options to get a high quality education at a good value are more numerous now then ever. A lot of the tuition of college goes to services and amenities you will never use. EducationLoft helps you find a good education at at a lower cost.

    Comment by Anonymous — Feb 27th 2012 @ 11:01 am
  17. Can’t believe the BEST VALUE does not include a world class college providing 1) education, 2) room, and 3) board COMPLETELY PAID by the student working for the college: College of the Ozarks in Point Lookout, MO. My son graduated with a great 4 year degree without paying a single “red cent”. Even received a scholarship for books. Are the other colleges on the list available with tuition, room and board paid 100% by work study? Ha! C of O is the absolute best value in the nation and a great Christian environment.

    Comment by Anonymous — Feb 27th 2012 @ 2:01 pm
  18. How is Georgia Tech not on the list for best value public schools? It is the top public engineering college in the country and it is just as inexpensive as the schools listed.

    Comment by Anonymous — Feb 27th 2012 @ 4:23 pm
  19. The compiler of the list missed a great small, private school in Latrobe, PA. Saint Vincent College. Do not hesitate to check out this hidden gem.

    Comment by Anonymous — Feb 27th 2012 @ 4:48 pm
  20. I spent $250K on my education at one of these “top 10 public schools,” not to mention another $250K on my undergraduate and two master’s degrees, both of which are from world-class universities in the UK. I’m now broke and unemployed! So what do I think? Don’t spend a single “red penny” on your education unless you are one of the lucky one’s to receive “a generous aid package,” of which I know nothing about! I’ve been applying for assistant professorships all across the globe for the past 18 months. My dream job will net me pay about $50K a year. Do the math! Sounds like a huge waste of money. I am left with 20 student loans, which are currently in deferent due to economic hardship. Was it worth it? What do you think?

    Comment by Anonymous — Feb 27th 2012 @ 4:48 pm
  21. I wonder how “quality of education” is measured given that all colleges use the same textbooks. I also wonder why “attractiveness to employers” is not a criterion. There are a lot of large colleges that are not listed that a huge number of people working in the hi-tech industry come from.

    Comment by Anonymous — Feb 27th 2012 @ 6:17 pm
  22. Great list. Every school on this list should be the top 20 schools your kids think about attending… I live in the northeast and most kids here want to attend the University of Georgia or Florida.

    I still think the education prior to college is better in the northeast, but the southern states and possibly the midwestern states are making a strong move. I really like UNC, UGA, and UF as strong candidates for the top 3 in the next couple of years.

    Comment by Anonymous — Feb 27th 2012 @ 9:19 pm
  23. When I think of “Best Value” I think of ROI and National/International ranking. That being the case this list is crap.

    Here is a much better comparison IMO.

    Georgia Tech should be on this list not UGA

    Comment by Anonymous — Feb 27th 2012 @ 10:36 pm
  24. Best of lists are never a great tool when you only have ten choices, especially when it comes to Universities. I hope people choose their school based on the major they intend to pursue. No University will best in the top ten for everything.

    As others have mentioned, there are vast differences in cost for in-state and out-of-state tuition. Schools have different graduation rates, placement in field of study, and initial income after graduation.

    If your student hates the campus there’s no use making them go there. Each University has a ‘feel’ to it that can mean the difference between success and failure. Bottom line is you need to do YOUR homework and do some serious research, using a variety of sources, when choosing a University. No different from any other investment you make.

    Comment by Anonymous — Feb 28th 2012 @ 12:55 am
  25. According to the Wallstreet Journal the most valued schools in the state of Texas are Texas Tech University and Texas A&M University. Personally I will go with where the rubber meets the road. How satisified recruiters are with the product(s) being turned out of their respective institutions. FYI: The University of Texas was not even in the top 25.

    Comment by Anonymous — Mar 1st 2012 @ 9:42 am
  26. here is the link:

    Comment by Anonymous — Mar 1st 2012 @ 9:52 am

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