Should I go to Swarthmore or UCLA

US News & World Report announces the best universities and colleges in 2015

US News & World Report released its 2015 college rankings this week. The 2015 edition of Best Colleges features rankings and data on nearly 1,800 colleges and universities in the United States

According to the report, Princeton (NJ) is the top national university, followed by Harvard (MA), Yale (CT), Columbia (NY), Stanford (CA), and the University of Chicago (IL). Columbia, Stanford and the University of Chicago take fourth place. The best national liberal arts college is Williams College (MA), followed by Amherst College (MA) and Swarthmore College (PA). US News has also compiled college rankings for regional universities and regional colleges.

"US news rankings are popular with parents and students despite great skepticism in the educational community," said Mandee Heller Adler, founder and CEO of International College Counselors.

The US News used quantitative metrics in compiling the 2015 lists. According to their website, they collected data from each college on up to 16 indicators of academic excellence. A weight was assigned to each factor, reflecting the U.S. news rating of the importance of the measure. Then the schools were ranked against the other schools in their category based on their score.

These are the indicators used by US News to measure academic quality, its weights in the ranking formula, and a brief explanation of each indicator.

Academic reputation of a student (22.5 percent): A school's reputation was based on a peer academic assessment survey of top academics from other schools, including presidents, provosts, and deans for admissions. For the national universities and liberal arts colleges, the survey also reached 2,152 public high school advisors, each of whom was a gold, silver, or bronze medalist on the U.S. news rankings of Best High Schools, as well as 400 study advisors in the largest independent schools. The academic assessment by peers accounted for 15 percentage points of the ranking, while the consultant ratings accounted for 7.5 percentage points.

Deductible (22.5 percent): This measure consists of two parts: the average proportion of a graduating class that graduated in six years or less (80 percent of this score), and the average proportion of freshmen who started school in autumn 2009 through autumn 2012 and The following have returned falling (20 percent). According to US News, these retention rates likely indicate that a school is offering the classes and services students need to be successful.

Faculty Resources (20 percent): The following measures were used to conclude that students had more contact with their professors: the proportion of classes with fewer than 20 students (30 percent of faculty resources) and the proportion with 50 or more students (10 percent of the score). The next steps are intended to indicate a school's commitment to teaching. The first was the faculty's average salary plus performance during the 2012-2013 and 2013-2014 academic years, adjusted for regional differences in the cost of living (35 percent). The proportion of professors with the highest degree in their subject (15 percent), the ratio between students and faculties (5 percent) and the proportion of full-time employees (5 percent) were also weighted.

Student selectivity (12.5 percent): This action consisted of three components: the entrance exam results for all participants who took the critical reading and math parts of the SAT and ACT score (65 percent of that score); the proportion of first-year students at national universities and liberal arts colleges who graduated in the top 10 percent of their high school classes, or the proportion of first-year students at regional universities and colleges who completed their classes in the top 25 percent (25 percent) ; and the ratio of admitted students to applicants (10 percent).

Financial resources (10 percent): This indicator took into account expenditure per student, that is, the average expenditure per student on teaching, research, student services and related education expenses.

Final performance (7.5 percent): You essentially measured the difference between a school's six-year graduation rate for the class entered in 2007 and the US news forecast for the class. This indicator is designed to show the impact of the college's programs and policies on student graduation rates.

Alumni donation rate (5 percent): This reflects the average percentage of living alumni with a bachelor's degree who attended their school in 2011-2012 and 2012-2013.

“Rankings get a lot of attention; However, it is important for families to understand that finding college is not just about getting to school best College as decided by a poll. The best college for one student isn't necessarily the best college for another, ”Adler said. “Choosing the right college requires looking at many sources. "