Business Insider recently released its annual list of the 50 best colleges in America — and this year a new-and-improved methodology put
Princeton University in the top position.
Princeton’s Ivy League reputation precedes it in terms of prestige, but the school earns its stripes as an elite institution on its merits. Business Insider’s methodology focused on early-career earnings and high graduation rates, primarily relying on data from the government’s College Scorecard.
Though the Princeton, New Jersey-based school didn’t earn the highest marks in every single category, it shined in the metrics Business Insider put the most emphasis on, garnering the highest score overall. Here’s how it stacked up in terms of salary and graduation rate:
- Graduation rate: 90%
- Median earnings 6 years after enrolling: $48,300
- Median earnings 10 years after enrolling: $75,100
Numbers don’t fully express the Princeton allure, however. Yes, a Princeton education leads to future job opportunities and high earning potential, but four years at the school, among some of the world’s best professors, also instills students with a hunger for learning and a sense of curiosity.
“Princeton is a place of incredible opportunity. Where else could first year students learn from a Nobel laureate in a class of 25 students?” one student shared on Niche, a company that compiles information on schools. “The integrated science curriculum at Princeton has introduced me to new subjects and ways of thinking about problems that are totally different from anything I have experienced before.
“I was also impressed with how approachable faculty are and how easy it is to form relationships,” they continued.
A top-of-line academic experience doesn’t come at the expense of a social life at Princeton — the school earned an A+ student life rating from Niche. It received especially high marks for its beautiful campus and diverse student body, but Niche found that the school was also very safe and offered a robust party scene.
Despite everything it offers, Princeton is also surprisingly affordable. Don’t let sticker-shock blind you: Even though tuition exceeds $40,000, the school actually boasts an annual net cost of only $8,413 per year — the lowest of any school in our top 50. This figure reflects the cost of attending (including tuition and fees, books and supplies, and living expenses) minus the average grant/scholarship aid received, and is calculated for full-time, first-time undergrads who received aid, according to the Department of Education.
At the end of the day, Princeton tops the list as the best college in America because it offers students the full package: world-class academics and a rich student experience, with a surprisingly affordable price tag to boot.