Best Colleges in the World - Official Rankings
Which colleges and universities are the best in the world? College rankings provide ample opportunity to understand the important metrics that go into college rankings such as: acceptance rates, peer review, undergraduate focus, student to teacher ratio, university endowment size, research grants and funding, study abroad opportunities, strength of the curriculum, prestige of the professors, and career opportunities after college. One of the other big factors of our college rankings is the quality of life and the campus itself. This last metric is extremely critical to a student's overall experience and happiness.
So you want to get into one of the best colleges, correct? You're starting to ask questions about this year's top colleges ranking because you're a competitive student. The top colleges ranking is important information, but it's not cast in stone. Your goal is to find the best college or university on the ranking of universities for you.
Remember, too: Even if you’ve got the highest GPA in your high school graduating class and perfect SAT scores, the best universities in the USA want to know about your volunteerism and sports participation. Today’s best colleges want well-rounded candidates, and perfect academics might not be enough to get you into a dream school.
Chances are your parents or a guidance counselor mentioned well-roundedness or similar ideas when you said, “I just want to get into Harvard.”
Say what? As if it’s not enough to know Harvard crimson blood runs in your veins?
But wait—there’s more. Your parents know there’s a lot more to know about the best colleges in the world.
If you want to learn how to get accepted to these top universities, read all the way from top to bottom.
Before You Apply to the Best Universities in the World
Read this entire article about the best colleges!
Before you apply to any of the top universities, realize that today’s world best colleges candidates are fiercely competitive. Schools may have a “wish-list” of candidates they want to achieve department or diversity goals. You won't find the wish list on the college or university website.
Now, imagine this. After working four years in high school (or three if you’re a Brainiac), you’ve got just a few minutes to impress the admissions committee. Since the admissions committee is made up of humans, your admission starts with a feeling. The question you must answer is, “Can I invoke certainty in the admissions committee?”
The answer is yes. With the right insight and resources, you can do it. To get this show on the road, let’s start with the StudyHall's annual ranking of the best universities and colleges. To get into the college or university of your choice, are you ready to dig deeper to learn more about what each of Almost every student around the world knows the name Stanford University.
Are you surprised that it's at the top list on anyone's ranking of universities? In the following rankings, we'll look at the top colleges on our list...
You can get access to the Top 25 list and bonus admissions counseling, by purchasing the rankings here.
#1 Stanford University - "Best University"
Who's the top college in the world? This next section may seem like a news flash to students and parents who thought Harvard would be ranked #1...
Not all students want to go to Harvard. In fact, a large percentage of students dreams of heading off to Stanford University to soak up the entrepreneurial vibes of nearby Silicon Valley.
Though it's not an Ivy League, per se, Stanford University is much better in many ways...
Stanford University started because a mother and father were so upset at the loss of a son, the founded an institution of higher learning in his memory. The parents, Jane and Leland Stanford, had a son, Leland, Jr. When he turned 16, Leland, Jr. convinced his parents to let him travel abroad. They write he was an especially curious individual and wanted to learn about the world by seeing it.
You’ve got it. These supportive parents wanted their intellectually curious son to grow up and change the world. He died at age 16, so his parents wanted other young people to benefit from the family’s vision. Mrs. Stanford was so excited by the idea, she sold the family jewels to fund Stanford. Stanford was founded in 1885.
About half the students at Stanford are enrolled in graduate programs. This is where you’re reminded of a life plan—remember?
At some point in your future, after the vision of an undergraduate career is realized, you might want to study at Stanford as a grad student. You might be interested in attending the business, medical, law, or education programs for graduate-level students at that time. That’s when you’ll remember the process of preparing for undergraduate applications all over again and ask new questions.
For instance, you might ask, “How do I position my experience to compete with an even more competitive crowd of graduate students at Stanford?”
You’re in luck.
According to our university admissions expert, "Stanford provides the perfect combination of brilliant undergraduate students, a top-notch campus, and student life that would make the East Coast Ivy Leagues, jealous. Stanford is the best-ranked college in the world for a reason... you get your money's worth before, during, and after you graduate from Stanford. For the first time in history, Stanford has surpassed Harvard and Princeton University as the best college in the world."
After you get good grades, refine your writing skills, and blossom into an exciting young adult with lots of vistas to explore, you can hire an educational consultant at StudyHall to help you with your admissions essays, application, and test prep.
Next on our list of top colleges and universities is a familiar name, Princeton University...
#2 Princeton University
Founded in 1746, Princeton is just slightly younger than Harvard University in our top colleges ranking, but older than Stanford University. It’s another member of the prestigious Ivy League, along with Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, University of Pennsylvania, and Yale Universities. “Ivy League” refers to U.S. higher education institutions known for academic excellence and selective admissions.
As you can see, some public universities are also known for selective admissions and academic prowess.
Once known as the College of New Jersey, trustees changed its name to Princeton before the turn of the 20th century. Princeton is a short (50-mile) train ride to New York City. About 8,000 students enroll at Princeton. Approximately 67 percent of students are undergrads.
Students arrive from all over the world to study at Princeton. About 12 percent of undergrads and 40+ percent of grad students are international.
Princeton is known for its School of Architecture, School of Engineering & Applied Science, and Woodrow Wilson School of Public & International Affairs. Thirty plus academic concentrations are offered to undergraduates. Graduate students focus on research in: 1) engineering & applied sciences; 2) humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences.
Two prestigious national laboratories, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Princeton Plasma Physics Lab and the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory, are affiliated with Princeton. NOAA’s laboratory is focused on climate modeling and research studies.
As you can see, there's a lot of information to consider when discussing the latest ranking of colleges. Take your time to learn as much as you can about each university or college that interests you before submitting an application.
You need to know every detail about why these colleges are ranked they way they are... which brings us to Harvard University...
According to the world's leading college admissions expert, "the reason why Princeton ranks so highly on our official rankings of the best colleges is because of Princeton's unparalleled focus on the undergraduate experience. Every student who graduates from Princeton is required to write a senior thesis... this thesis is a comprehensive analysis of a topic of a senior's choice... Princeton continues to provide amazing experiences for undergraduates."
#3 Harvard University
Almost every student around the world knows the name Harvard. Are you surprised that Harvard is ranked #3 on our best universities and colleges list?
Well, first, let's dive into the facts about Harvard University...
Harvard University is the oldest U.S. institution of higher learning. Founded in the early 17th century, today’s Harvard combines the old (Harvard Yard) and new. Some of Harvard's top schools include the following:
- Harvard Law School
- Harvard Medical School
- Harvard Business School
- John F. Kennedy School of Government
- Graduate School of Education
- Divinity School
And more. Harvard's graduate schools are constant reminders to applicants and undergrads. A Harvard undergraduate degree is just the beginning.
Walk around Harvard University and you’ll notice right away that its alumni have gone places and done things. Its endowment is the largest in the world. Astonishing, isn’t it?
Before many Harvard alums could write a big check to ensure Harvard’s continuation, he or she had a plan.
What about you? What's your plan?
In addition to having great SATs and excellent high school grades, think about your future. After you master a Harvard undergrad degree in psychology, history, biology, social sciences, or math, in what way will you want to make the world a better place?
Perhaps your parents know your secret dreams, but have you written a plan about how to get where you’re going? It’s true that a degree from Harvard is rocket fuel, but your ability to answer, “What’s next?” in every part of life is something to think about now.
If you’re asking, “What makes the process of getting into Harvard so special that I need to examine my thoughts and create a life plan?” consider this. It’s true that many valedictorians get into Harvard, but it’s not always the top academic achiever that’s of interest to the admissions committee.
Now, if you’re thinking, “This sounds hard. I need to hire a consultant…” your parents might ask, “Is there such a thing as a consultant who can help you get into Harvard?”
Sounds good, but is it real?
The simple truth is that yes, you can... Even with good grades, a perfect SAT score, being athletically competitive, starting a foundation that helps others, or turning lemons into lemonade... you might need extra help with college counseling. If you’ve done all that and want objective feedback on how to get the admissions committee of your choice to say, “Wham! I like this kid!” you’re in the right place. StudyHall can help you and your parents now with private admissions counseling for Harvard and top Ivy League colleges.
P.S. You may also wonder if students who get into Harvard ever choose another college or university. If you asked the question, you already know the answer. Let's continue our discussion about this year's ranking of colleges.
So why is Harvard ranked #3 versus #1 on our best list compared to Stanford and Princeton University?
Well, according to college admissions expert and author of Admit You! How to Get Accepted to the Best Colleges and Universities in the World, "Harvard provides a phenomenal academic environment for all students, but when it comes to attention to undergraduates and the research opportunities given to these students, Stanford and Princeton both prevail. Further, if one looks at the SAT Scores of Harvard versus Stanford and Princeton, you'll notice a steady increase in both SAT and ACT medians and averages at these #1 and #2 schools compared to Harvard... the bottom line, all three colleges are strong, but in recent years, the trend favors Stanford and Princeton."
#4 Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, also known as "MIT," is Harvard’s younger neighbor. Founded in the Civil War (1861), MIT is made up of five different schools, including science; architecture-planning; engineering; arts-humanities-social sciences; and management. Although students come from all over the world to attend MIT, all classes are conducted in English.
MIT has a modern, urban vibe. Within MIT's walls are brilliant minds at work. About 90 percent of the school’s undergrads partner in the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program in which students and faculty focus on exciting research projects. For instance, the Nuclear Reactor Laboratory—one of the country’s largest research reactors—is just one of the places MIT students become “rocket scientists.”
Hey, does this sound like you? Does the idea of participating in real research excite you?
Want to know more about MIT?
Before you make the decision to apply to any of the top universities, walk the campus. Ask questions. Visit the library. Attend a class (but get permission first).
Sounds like lame advice? No, no, no! Before you write an applications essay, bring it to life. If one of your all-time Wall Street heroes studied electrical engineering and then developed models to make it safer for you to trade convertible bonds in a declining interest rate environment, don’t keep the information to yourself.
If one of your favorite vintage designers started out at MIT, let him or her know about your admiration. Strike up a conversation and learn more. When the relationship blossoms, don't be surprised if your hero wants to write a letter of recommendation to MIT.
It all begins with a feeling. When the admissions committee at MIT reads your application, you will stand apart from many other applicants with great GPAs and stellar SAT scores. Contact StudyHall's experienced team to discuss your dream ranking of colleges.
Now, let's leave Cambridge, MA and head out to the West Coast... to California Institute of Technology (CIT) and UC-Berkeley....
To get exclusive access...
Honorable Mentions on Top 25 Colleges List of the World.
#13 California Institute of Technology (Cal Tech)
Caltech, the California Institute of Technology, started out as Throop University in 1891. Can you imagine Throop University on the best colleges list?
No? Throop University was renamed as the California Institute of Technology at the start of the flapper age in 1920.
Caltech is a school focused on sciences and engineering programs. Only a select few students attend the university. About 55 percent of them are enrolled as graduates.
What’s more, more than 25 percent of Caltech students are international. The California Institute of Technology is world-renowned. It's another of California's world best colleges.
Students come from all over the world to study under some of the world’s best professors. The student-professor ratio is about three-to-one. Students apply to one of six divisions, including:
- biology/biological engineering
- chemistry/chemical engineering
- engineering/applied science
- geology/planetary systems
- physics, math, and astronomy
- humanities, social sciences
Like MIT, the Caltech community is focused on research. About 80 percent of Caltech’s undergrads participate in one or more research projects before graduation. Summer Undergrad Research Fellowships fund student research proposals as well.
As you can guess from the educational programs recapped above, Caltech works with NASA (Jet Propulsion Laboratory) and more than 50 research centers and institutes. Whether you're attracted to Caltech as an undergrad or you're focused on the next steps of a graduate education, know that Caltech admissions are ultra-competitive.
To distinguish yourself from the field of students with great grades, perfect standardized test scores, and visions of changing the world, contact StudyHall. Along with your parents, we're here to share our experience with you. We know the best universities in the USA.
#24 University of California, Berkeley
The University of California—Berkeley is another great institution of higher learning located in the greater San Francisco Bay area. Unlike Stanford’s higher concentration of undergrads, about 70 percent of students at Berkeley are undergraduates. Students fondly refer to their school as “Cal” or “Berkeley.” Berkeley is a few years older than Stanford—it was founded after the conclusion of the Civil War in 1868—but its architecture and student body make it seem younger.
UC-Berkeley is divided into 14 schools and colleges, including:
- Haas School of Business,
- School of Law,
- College of Engineering,
- School of Public Health,
- College of Chemistry
If you’re looking for options to fill in your life plan, Berkeley has more than 350 educational programs. Some of the most popular majors include psychology, computer science, electrical engineering, business, and political science.
Whew! Like MIT, Berkeley students are serious about research. The biological field stations attract forestry, botany, ecosystems, and zoology students from around the world. About 15 percent of students are international. Note: International students pay higher fees and tuition. Berkeley is a public university and, as such, accepted California students get a financial bargain on a world-class education.
And guess what? Berkeley’s researchers discovered some elements on the periodic table. Berkelium and californium were named right here at Berkeley. It's one of California's world best colleges.
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