The 30 Most Desirable Schools in the US

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Discus: College Admissions: 2002 - 2003 Archive: May 2003 Archive: The 30 Most Desirable Schools in the US
By Top30 (Top30) on Friday, April 18, 2003 - 11:34 am: Edit

1. Harvard University
2. Princeton University
3. Yale University
4. Stanford University
5. Massachusetts Institute of Technology
6. University of Pennsylvania
7. California Institute of Technology
8. Duke University
9. Amherst College, MA
10. Williams College, MA
11. Columbia University
12. Dartmouth College
13. Cornell University
14. Brown University
15. University of Virginia
16. Notre Dame University
17. Northwestern University
18. Georgetown University
19. Swarthmore College, PA
20. Wellesley College, MA
21. Rice University
22. University of California at Berkeley
23. Pomona College, CA
24. Johns Hopkins University
25. Haverford College, PA
26. University of Chicago
27. Carleton College, MN
28. Bowdoin College, ME
29. Davidson College, NC
30. Wesleyan College, CT

I developed this ranking system so that I could give my kids a better way of looking at schools than those "other ratings" which are far too complex and change frequently. I also wanted to include liberal arts schools with all the rest.

There are only three criteria, and they are extremely difficult for an admissions office to change or pander to --even if they knew about the ranking, which they don't. The numbers are simple and easily available.

This is intended to be a list of the most desirable universities in the United States. Please try to guess at the criteria. They are 180 degrees different than what is used by "other rankings" but I was surprised (perhaps disappointed) to see the top wasn't much different than what the "others" have there. In fact, the top 12 is exactly the same (breaking the "ties" on the other list and also including the top 2 from the liberal arts list, which even came over in order - very odd). But all in all I would call my list easier, more transparent (soon), and more accurate for those after the top 12. And at least I broke their "ties"! There are no "ties" here.

As this year's numbers come out, I'll update this list. For this first attempt I based it on numbers that are two years old. I don't expect it to change as much from year to year as the "other ranking" does. As it changes, you will likely see the same school move up a spot a few times in a row as it actually seems to be getting "more desirable"... you'll never see a school jump up and then jump way back down like in that "other ranking".

By Yourlocalmayor (Yourlocalmayor) on Friday, April 18, 2003 - 11:38 am: Edit

DUDE, WHERE IS UNC-CHAPEL HILL?!?! I'd say Chapel Hill is better than Davidson! Davidson...bunch of geese killing-frat-punks.

By Top30 (Top30) on Friday, April 18, 2003 - 11:46 am: Edit

UNC-Chapel Hill was very close to making the ranking. I don't know every single school well enough or equally enough to inject my own opinions into the list. It's just numbers tallied from three simple statistics (at least two of which an admissions committee can't change at all, and the third one is at least hard to do).

If I had made it only the "national universities" the other ranking has, UNC would be in the top 30 with ease!

By Xiggi (Xiggi) on Friday, April 18, 2003 - 12:12 pm: Edit

Three criteria...

Obviously offering a great business undergraduate program is NOT one of them.

That is why lists are always so subjective and only please whomever decided to create his own.

By Maritimee (Maritimee) on Friday, April 18, 2003 - 12:13 pm: Edit

You forgot about the service academies.

By Curiousone (Curiousone) on Friday, April 18, 2003 - 12:17 pm: Edit

BTW, there's a Wesleyan UNIVERSITY in Connecticut, not College...

By Top30 (Top30) on Friday, April 18, 2003 - 01:05 pm: Edit

Xiggi, while "offering a great business undergraduate program" was definitely not one of the three criteria (and how would one objectively measure that?), many schools on the list do offer well known business programs. This is certainly not to say that #4 or #5 will necessarily have a better business program than #14 or #15... this doesn't attempt to rank the desirability of any particular program within these colleges and universities.

Maritimee, service academies (which may place very highly if they did) do not have "clean numbers" for one or maybe two of the three criteria. While I think several of them would make the list, I can't be sure where they would place. I should probably make a note of the fact that they are probably more desirable to many people than schools that made the list. There's just no way I have of ranking them correctly.

Curiousone, a sincere thanks for the correction. I'll make sure I catch that in the future... I think I have a tendancy to call 'bachelors level' schools "colleges" and 'Ph.D. level' schools "universities", but that's not always the way they are actually named.

By Iska (Iska) on Friday, April 18, 2003 - 01:11 pm: Edit

Top30, your pathetic attempts to boost Princeton are so transparent, sophomoric, and laughably juvenile. Harvard will always be #1, Yale #2. Stop wasting your time or you'll start looking like a blithering idiot. Sorry. HTH

By Top30 (Top30) on Friday, April 18, 2003 - 01:23 pm: Edit

Whoops, I made a mistake or two at the end. Below is the correct ranking, I should have made more attention. I've had these numbers for each school but didn't put them into an ordinal ranking until now... excuse the mix-up. The University of Michigan should have been there according to the math, so Wesleyan University (got it right!) should not have been there (but I guess everyone knows #31 now, huh?). I also incorrectly had Bowdoin above Davidson... I guess I got lazy near the end, I apologize!!

1. Harvard University
2. Princeton University
3. Yale University
4. Stanford University
5. Massachusetts Institute of Technology
6. University of Pennsylvania
7. California Institute of Technology
8. Duke University
9. Amherst College, MA
10. Williams College, MA
11. Columbia University
12. Dartmouth College
13. Cornell University
14. Brown University
15. University of Virginia
16. Notre Dame University
17. Northwestern University
18. Georgetown University
19. Swarthmore College, PA
20. Wellesley College, MA
21. Rice University
22. University of California at Berkeley
23. Pomona College, CA
24. Johns Hopkins University
25. Haverford College, PA
26. University of Chicago
27. Carleton College, MN
28. University of Michigan
29. Davidson College, NC
30. Bowdoin College, ME

By Top30 (Top30) on Friday, April 18, 2003 - 01:34 pm: Edit

Iska, first of all I didn't "boost Princeton". Versus the "other rankings", both Princeton and Yale are one notch lower and Harvard is one notch higher. Why don't you complain about the "other rankings" that have Princeton #1? At least you'd agree it's obvious Harvard is likely #1. In these more transparent (and stable) rankings, I doubt that could change. The "other rankings" have had Harvard, Princeton, Yale, Caltech, and others all as #1 at one time or another. That's not realistic to have so many changes, and these rankings aren't very likely to ever change to that degree at the top, and certainly not from year to year.

Next I'll be hearing from Stanford people, who think they should be above Yale. Then from MIT people, who think they should be above Stanford. That's not how the criteria work out though.

I'm apologize greatly if as a Yale person you feel "wronged" at #3. I can't "cook" the numbers for any one school. It's possible for me to make math mistakes (see Michigan being omitted at first), but when I post the criteria anyone can do the math pretty easily and get the same ranking.

By Erin (Erin) on Friday, April 18, 2003 - 02:03 pm: Edit

I think "most desirable" would be best shown by the number of applicants, in which case UCLA would be at the top this year.

By Top30 (Top30) on Friday, April 18, 2003 - 02:11 pm: Edit

Erin, if you want to rank it that way, the list would be all public universities and there wouldn't be a liberal arts college in the top 100.

By Top30 (Top30) on Friday, April 18, 2003 - 02:31 pm: Edit

I don't want the list without Michigan at the start, plus this might be the wrong category so please

Click here to continue this thread

Thank you!

By Dream5 (Dream5) on Friday, April 18, 2003 - 02:38 pm: Edit

Where's vassar and smith??

By Iska (Iska) on Friday, April 18, 2003 - 03:10 pm: Edit

Top30, keep trying , buddy. You're wasting your time. I'm against all rankings. Many non-Ivies offer a better academic and personal experience than HYP or any other Ivy, depending on a great variety of factors. I personally prefer an honors college at a non-Ivy than an Ivy undergraduate. That's just me. Honors colleges provide a certain amount of handholding that some people need to perform at their potential and succeed (Think Clemson, UNC- Chapel Hill, Pitt, etc, etc). They provide internships and corporate hook-ups that some students may not be able to obtain at HYPMSMC. They may even enhance graduate school prospects at Ivies.

This is why I consider these rankings an exercise in idleness. That said, it's still H-Y-P, in that immutable order, even though I don't care for any of them for undergrad. HTH

By Arcadia (Arcadia) on Friday, April 18, 2003 - 04:08 pm: Edit

Davidson, Haverford, and Bowdoin above Middlebury? I'm not sure what criteria you're using, but it must be very "unique." Why don't you just tell us how you came up with the list?

By Vizious (Vizious) on Friday, April 18, 2003 - 04:20 pm: Edit

Yes, please tell us your "statistical criteria"

So we can very the results for ourselves....

By Xiggi (Xiggi) on Friday, April 18, 2003 - 05:02 pm: Edit

Xiggi's Top 3 list:

1. The first schools that accepts me
2. All the ones that do not waitlist me
3. All the ones that do not reject me

Works for me :)

By Gangsta (Gangsta) on Friday, April 18, 2003 - 06:14 pm: Edit

Top 30 in resources/facilities, Professors, overally impression in academics and industry. Some of these schools are specialized in one area, but are really good at that so I added them (MIT, Caltech, RPI):

1. Harvard University
2. Princeton University
3. Yale University
4. Massachusetts Institute of Technology
5. Stanford University
6. University of Pennsylvania
7. California Institute of Technology
8. Amherst College, MA
9. Duke University
10. Williams College, MA
11. Columbia University
12. Cornell University
13. Brown University
14. Dartmouth College
15. Rice University
16. Northwestern University
17. Swarthmore College, PA
18. Wellesley College, MA
19. University of Chicago
20. Johns Hopkins University
21. Carnegie Mellon University
22. University of California at Berkeley
23. Georgetown University
25. Tufts University
26. University of Virginia
24. Bowdoin College, ME
27. Brandeis University
28. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
29. University of Rochester
30. NYU

By Top30 (Top30) on Friday, April 18, 2003 - 09:16 pm: Edit

The actual list is this:

#1 100/100
Harvard University

#2 97/100
Princeton University

#3 95/100
Yale University

#4 93/100
Stanford University

#5 89/100
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

#6 84/100
Amherst College, MA
California Institute of Technology
Duke University
University of Pennsylvania
Williams College, MA

#11 83/100
Brown University
Columbia University
Cornell University
Dartmouth College
University of Virginia

#16 82/100
Notre Dame University

#17 80/100
Northwestern University

#18 78/100
Georgetown University
Swarthmore College (PA)

#20 76/100
Johns Hopkins University
Pomona College (CA)
Rice University
University of California at Berkeley
Wellesley College (MA)

#25 75/100
Haverford College (PA)

#26 74/100
Carleton College (MN)
University of Chicago

#28 73/100
University of Michigan

#29 72/100
Davidson College (NC)

#30 71/100
Bowdoin College (ME)

And the criteria is stated on the other thread which you can find here : peer assessment, yield, graduation rate.

Justification for graduation rate: What's the point of attending a desirable school if many students drop out and/or transfer out? Those who drop out are left with nothing, and if many transfer out it indicates it to be less desired.

By Shitakirimusume (Shitakirimusume) on Friday, April 18, 2003 - 09:22 pm: Edit

TSan Francisco Chronicle

Tomorrow has its day -- Story of Asian American overachievers gone bad has moviegoers talking
C.W. Nevius

"Better Luck Tomorrow" has gone beyond buzz. The independent film now officially has an electric hum. There was talk that Justin Lin's tale of high school overachievers gone wild had an underground following. Last weekend it hit the street -- in a big way.

"Oh my gosh, it was crazy," says Catherine Chang, an honors student at Northgate High School in Walnut Creek who drove to Berkeley to see the film. "We intended to go to the 7:30 showing. We got there at 6 and there was one ticket left. So we bought tickets for the 9:30 showing. We got there at 8:30 and the line was already out the door."

That was the story all weekend. In a limited opening in just 13 theaters in Los Angeles, New York, Chicago and the Bay Area, "BLT" pulled in a remarkable $400,000. (The distributor, MTV Films, reportedly paid only $500,000 for it.) The big weekend guarantees two things: first, a much bigger distribution this weekend, and second, further debate about whether the film is racist.

The controversy has been building ever since the Sundance Film Festival in January, when a question-and-answer session after a showing produced what Roger Fan (who plays Daric in the movie) describes as "a sense of danger in the room."

A reporter, who is not Asian American, asked director Lin how he could make a film "so empty and amoral to Asian Americans." The result was a near free- for-all.

"There were people jumping over chairs to get themselves heard," says Fan. "Jason Tobin (who plays Virgil in the film) went off. He told the guy to f-- off."

The altercation culminated when Roger Ebert, the Pulitzer Prize-winning movie critic for the Chicago Sun-Times and TV's "Ebert & Roeper," stood up -- "like a holy man," Fan says -- to silence the complainer and defend Lin.

What the critic probably didn't know was that Lin had rejected a suggestion from studios to add a Caucasian character because the suits feared that Middle America wouldn't want to see an all-Asian cast. Nor did he know that he was handing "BLT" the kind of hype money can't buy.

"In many ways our film owes that guy a lot," says Fan. "It was the last question, and there must have been 60 hands up. What were the chances of Justin picking him, way back in the back of the room?"

So, is "BLT" racist? The easy answer is no. The characters may be Asian, and the plot may not paint them in the best light, but it still makes for a great movie: witty, edgy and smart. After last weekend's opening, the betting is that "BLT" will work for all audiences.

"I had a 57-year-old white guy come up to me at a screening in Wisconsin," Lin said last week. "He said, 'I could identify with that movie so much.' " I said, 'You mean when you were growing up?' He said, 'No, I mean right now. In my office.' "

Jeff Chou, a classmate of Chang's at Northgate, jokes that he is "basi-
cally the perfect Asian stereotype." In his senior year he is taking four honors classes, is on the tennis team, plays the piano and volunteers at Kaiser hospital. He also can relate to the character in "BLT" who says he feels he is on a kind of achievement treadmill.

"I could totally identify with the characters," Chou says. "It's like a nonstop cycle. In reality, nobody cares about the volunteering. If it wasn't for college I probably wouldn't be doing all that."

Chang is also right out of the movie. Northgate is a suburban high school, she gets A's in honors classes and scored a perfect 800 on her verbal SATs. If anyone would be offended, she would be a good candidate.

"A lot of the reason I went to see it was that it was an all-Asian movie," she says. "But what I thought was interesting is that it doesn't have to be. You have to see beyond the Asian faces. It's just a good story."

Of course, there are probably those who would prefer that movies portray Asian Americans as exemplary lead characters. But the cast of this movie say they were just happy not to be playing "a waiter," as Fan says.

"Of the five main guys in this movie," he says, "four of us were on the verge of quitting acting. We felt like we were selling nice boats in the desert. The most we could ever hope for was the third lead, never the guy the movie centers around."

Viewers like Chou and Chang know the feeling.

"Even when I am channel surfing and I see an Asian character, I always stop, " says Chou. "To me the movie was more about breaking the stereotype. It said in reality Asians are still people, they like to party and want to have a girlfriend."

"I liked that it wasn't Jackie Chan or kung-fu fighters," says Chang. "It is good to see Asian talent in good solid roles."

Of course, everyone is praising the movie now. Lin hasn't forgotten how tough it was to put the deal together. He cut every possible corner to save money. For example, extras at a party scene are shown out in the front yard of a house, and then, as the actors walked around the house with the camera rolling, the extras ran through the front door and out the back to appear as partygoers on the patio.

But as cheaply as it was filmed -- one published report says the budget was no more than $250,000 -- Lin couldn't find financing. For starters, he borrowed against 10 personal credit cards.

"At first it was daunting," he said. "I knew I was going to go into six- figure debt. That's more money than I have ever seen. But then it turned out to be actually liberating to go into six-figure debt."

The result is a remarkably self-assured work, given the circumstances. It doesn't go for the easy answers.

"I really liked the ending," says Chang. "It was kind of like, what do we do now?"

That ending, when two of the main characters drive off to an uncertain future, already has viewers talking. During an interview with Lin it was suggested, a little tentatively, that it was reminiscent of "The Graduate."

"Finally!" Lin said. " 'The Graduate' was definitely one of my influences. When I saw it when I was growing up the ending just blew me away. I've been waiting for someone to say that."

And to talk about the movie, not the politics.

Check out to read more articles.

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his is made by UCLA student

By Ccpusher (Ccpusher) on Saturday, April 26, 2003 - 05:56 pm: Edit

Top ten by SELECTIVITY (acceptance rate, SAT,% in top 10%) according to US NEWS
-this matches up with prestige

1. HArvard
2. Princeton
3. Yale
4. MIT
6. Cal Tech
7. Columbia
8. Penn
9. Brown
10. Dartmouth

By ENDOWMENT - contributes a lot to what the student gets out of the school

Harvard, Yale, Princeton, STanford, MIT, Emory, Columbia, WAsh U, Texas A&M, Chicago

By Bjturlington (Bjturlington) on Monday, April 28, 2003 - 04:29 pm: Edit

Both Yield and Peer Assesment are biased.

1) Yield is treated differently depending on the school and how they choose to report it. 2) Yield does not indicate how much of a given class was accepted under the ED and EA programs. 3) Yield to a certain extent is dependent on advertising. 4) Yield is also correlated to collegiate championships in sports. 5) Yield is dependent on multiple applications by many of the same candidates. 6) Peer assesment is dependent on who answers the questions, since not all surveys were returned or answered. 7) Peer asesment is also determined by regional bias and personal perceptions. 8) Even though educators (i.e. deans, admissions officers) are given the surveys, they are still influenced by the numbers they lose to cluster schools and schools within the geographical regions...Only 64% returned the surveys, so there is bias. 10) Given the two measures...the list should change every year given different yields and different numbers of returned surveys and opinions.

A majority of students get into their first or second choice schools, but there are those that inflate the application numbers by applying to many schools, especially from the Eastern Prep schools. Also, the majority of ED applicants are wealthy and non-minority..which also increases yield. Thus, Regular decision candidates are less likely to get in and more likely pad the numbers to increase rank. In fact, Wash U. changed its policies in the mid-1990s...went from +60% to 30% in 8 years, and, not surprizingly, peer assesment during the time also increased. As to endowment, Wash U. also began spending more of its endowment on buildings and meet the needs of fewer financial aid applicants. Thus, Wash U. ranking today. In admissions, Wash U. also changed its policy towards likely student enrollement by considering where applicants also applied. I only know this because an uncle is in admissions at Wash U., so yield and peer assesment are measures of the internal school admissions policies, and spending on students...which affects deans and other educators opinions on other schools in its group; Thus, since it is affect, peer assesment is also biased.


P.S. Family members have gone to Harvard because they were legacies and were no accepted to other schools. I'm no saying it's the norm, but it affects yield so you should look at ED percentages.

By Lindy (Lindy) on Sunday, May 04, 2003 - 03:26 am: Edit

Where does UCLA rank in all this?

By Primadonna (Primadonna) on Sunday, May 04, 2003 - 03:12 pm: Edit

Better Luck Tomorrow---such a great film!!!! (i've an asian fetish) Utilizes stereotype about AA youth in a very artistic video-tech fashion...i loved it..

By Yourlocalmayor (Yourlocalmayor) on Sunday, May 04, 2003 - 08:46 pm: Edit

Davidson=a small college in Mecklenburg County(Charlotte, NC) where frat boys enjoy killing geese...and end up arrested.

By ~the_Chosen~ (~the_Chosen~) on Thursday, May 08, 2003 - 06:59 am: Edit

Why is Caltech up there? It's only desireable by futher scientists, NASA people, and engineers. Do you know how many people apply to Caltech?!

Your list is gay. UCLA should be up there too. Top schools that get 15,000+ applications should all be up there.

By Kk02 (Kk02) on Thursday, May 08, 2003 - 10:01 am: Edit

Why wasnt Carnegie Mellon in the original list?

By Apguy (Apguy) on Thursday, May 08, 2003 - 11:34 am: Edit

Why the hell did that article about Better Luck Tomorrow give away the ending? That is so retarted.

Anyway, I too agree this list is not good. Where is Caltech, Emory, UCLA etc. ? Why NYU and URochester are ranked above Caltech is beyond me...

By Kk02 (Kk02) on Thursday, May 08, 2003 - 01:32 pm: Edit

I think Caltech's there!

By Dani2914 (Dani2914) on Thursday, May 08, 2003 - 01:36 pm: Edit

Why isn't Tufts in there? They receive more applications per place available than Davidson, Pomona, Rice, Carleton and Wesleyan.. plus they have a stronger International Relations program than Georgetown & Johns Hopkins!

By ~the_Chosen~ (~the_Chosen~) on Thursday, May 08, 2003 - 08:40 pm: Edit

No, Caltech IS up there. But it's not a "desirable" school. Less than 4,000 students apply there!

Rank in academics, it will be up there, but not desirability. It only appeals to a *select* few. While UCLA, 45,000 applications, and it isn't up there?! LOL

But who cares anyway, also, LAC's shouldn't be ranked with DOCTORAL universities, that's dumb as well.

By Dubiastic (Dubiastic) on Monday, May 12, 2003 - 08:47 pm: Edit

I don't know. In other places on the web I've seen this as the "Laissez Faire Rankings". I agree with the principle that smart kids congregate in great schools, which is to the best of my understanding, the way the list works. It looks WAY too much like US NEWS, with the usual suspects at the top and the insanely low placing of Brown, and crazy high placing of Duke and CALTECH.

By Yourlocalmayor (Yourlocalmayor) on Monday, May 12, 2003 - 08:59 pm: Edit

yeah, Duke is over-rated!!! DUKE BASKETBALL SUCKS, COACH K SUCKS ARSE!

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