With the deadline for early-decision applications looming, college prospects are busy weighing the pros and cons of any number of colleges and universities. There’s the undeniable pros of attending a top-tier dream school for things like resume building, career networking, and outstanding student experience. There’s also the impossible-to-ignore cons that many of those schools come with such as the hefty (and rising) price tags and the prospect of graduating with a large amount of student debt.
To help students in the search, WalletHub.com last week (October 17, 2022) released its 2023 Best College & University Rankings report. The personal finance website compared nearly 1,000 schools to help high school students find “the top-performing schools and the lowest possible costs.” Schools across the country were measured on 30 performance indicators important to undergraduates such as cost, campus experience, education and career outcomes, faculty resources, and more.
For the second straight year, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology scored the No. 1 spot, while Yale University replaced Princeton for second place. California Institute of Technology ranked third, the same rank as last year. You can compare how different schools fared on the 2022 ranking here, or check out our own ranking for the Best Undergraduate Business Programs here. (Students should also note that the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is now open for the 2023-2024 academic year, and there are several deadlines and changes to this year’s application.)
WalletHub hopes its report will help students make more informed decisions about how much a college degree is worth to them. For some, an Ivy League education is completely worth the (much) higher cost. For others, a community college will provide training and the quickest possible entry point to a high-demand and lucrative job.
FORMING YOUR OWN PERSONAL ADVISORY COMMITTEE
There are so many considerations that must go into choosing the right path to higher education – location, total cost, job skills acquired, and majors offered, just to name a few. The decision can be downright daunting.
Blanca Elizabeth Vega, assistant professor of higher education at Montclair State University, suggests that students convene their own personal advisory committee during their junior year of high school. This could include trusted educational agents knowledgeable about college choice and financing; community mentors, and family members. In their research, they should collect information about the debt incurred by graduates and consider how this may impact their financial future.
“They should discuss with their group the type of experience they want to have. They should think of three to four majors they may be interested in and pick their schools based on that. If they are undecided, they should find schools that have what Montclair State University has developed, which is an undergraduate liberal arts program for students who have multiple ideas for degree attainment,” says Vega.
“Applying for undergraduate programs takes time and research and should be treated by high school counselors and families as such. The members of the team who are not students should develop connections with the admissions and financial aid offices of universities students select. This would create shared responsibility and not put all the burden on the students. With a team, individual students and their families can make appropriate and informed decisions.”
She also suggests looking at institutions with various student support centers such as federally funded TRIO or other college retention programs, and ask preferred schools what percentage of the university’s budget goes to cultural centers such as those that serve BIPOC communities.
“Currently, universities devote less than one percent of their budgets to racial diversity. This can say a lot about how institutions will treat Students of Color.”
Poets&Quants looks at the schools in WalletHub’s report to see how they compared to each other on a variety of metrics most important to students. The first 30 are ranked below, and you can click through to the next pages to see more comparisons.
NEXT PAGE: WalletHub’s Best Colleges & Universities for 2023, Nos. 31-60