SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS -- The Best Colleges has published its first annual ranking of the 50 best colleges and universities in the United States. Princeton University in Princeton, N.J. tops the list. The full 2011-2012 ranking can be viewed at http://www.thebestcolleges.org/rankings/top-50.

Attempting to provide a college ranking that exceeds all others in focusing on what really matters to prospective students and their parents, "The Best Colleges Top 50 Colleges and Universities in America" goes beyond standard indicators of academic quality and student satisfaction considered by other major ranking systems like U.S. News & World Report to also take into account indicators of a school's total economic value and the quality of life of the city or town where the school is located. In all, schools and their surrounding cities or towns were evaluated across a dozen (12) different data points. Private schools and public schools, liberal arts colleges and research universities were evaluated and ranked together, giving students and their parents a comprehensive view of the best places to pursue a college degree in America.

"By emphasizing economic value and quality of life, we not only offer a new angle from which to evaluate college options, but one particularly relevant to our current economic and educational situation," said Micah Sparacio, senior editor at The Best Colleges. "Students and their parents are watching their dollars more closely than ever and can't afford to throw money away on an over-priced college degree that holds little promise of a future economic return," said Jeremy Alder, managing editor at The Best Colleges and lead researcher on the project. "With the recognition of the importance of social networking for future career success and the fact that students are taking longer than ever to graduate, a college town's quality of life in terms of affordability and the opportunity for relationships with other young, successful and highly educated people is seen as more important than ever."

The Best Colleges reviews publicly available data to produce rankings of traditional and online colleges and degree programs. The mission of The Best Colleges is to produce resources useful to prospective college students. The Best Colleges recognizes that no ranking system is perfect and recommends that their rankings only be used as a general guide for choosing a school.

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