Methodology (America's Best Colleges)


Here’s how we put together our exclusive list of America’s Best Colleges.

The ranking is based on a survey of 678 Business Insider readers in October and November 2010.

We asked one primary questions:

Provide a 1 (worst) to 5 (best) rating of 80 top programs on how much you think attending the school helps an graduate’s career.

Specifically, our language read: Please rate the following schools based on your own opinion. For example, if you were interviewing an applicant with a degree from a given school, would you be (1) relatively unimpressed or (5) very impressed? Do you think its alumni network opens (1) few doors or (5) most doors? Do you think its classes provide a (1) mediocre education or (5) great education? You must rate at least 30 schools.

The survey included around 55 universities and 25 colleges from the preeminent US News & World Report ranking.

We also asked “What is the most valuable asset a colleges provides in terms of your future career?”

  • 42.3% said it was “Skills and knowledge acquired in courses”
  • 22.6% said it was “Network of contacts (students, professors, alums)”
  • 28.7% said it was “Brand value of the school and degree.”
  • 6.4% said “Other.”  Write-in responses here included: “Ability to learn how to think,” “LIFE EXPERIENCE AND SELF SUSTAINMENT,” and “Deep love for learning across disciplines and collaboration between peers and professors.”

We also had several questions to get a sense of who took the survey.

Nearly all of respondents (95.2%) said they had an bachelor’s degree.

The most common schools attended by survey-takers were:

  • University of Pennsylvania (4.4%)
  • Stanford (3.4%)
  • Harvard (2.8%)
  • University of Virginia (2.3%)
  • Dartmouth College (2.3%)
  • UC Berkeley (2.1%)
  • Georgetown (2.1%)
  • Columbia (2.0%)
  • University of Chicago (1.5%)

The most common ages of respondents were as follows:

  • 37.2% were between 22 and 30
  • 27.9% were 31-40
  • 16.1% 41-50.

The most common industries respondents worked in were:

  • “banking/finance” (32.9%);
  • technology (25.7%); and
  • “media/marketing/advertising/PR (15.7%).

Role at companies:

  • 39.2% of respondents say they work in senior management (lots of small companies);
  • 16.7% were in sales and marketing
  • 16.3% were in “Product Design, Development, or Production.”

Hiring experience:

  • 38.8% of respondents said they had hired between 1 and 10 people in their career;
  • 23.8% said they had hired between 11 and 50;
  • 17.4% said they had hired 51 or more.

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