You obviously went to the best college. No one can tell you otherwise. But… there might be an objective way to measure colleges. With student debt climbing every year, we need our choices validated. We put together a comprehensive list that includes things like student satisfaction, alumni salary, and more. This gives us a comprehensive measure of what it means to be the best. So, let’s dive into which schools are the best by state.

  • Famous schools like Harvard, Princeton and Stanford top the list for starting salaries.
  • However, you can graduate from the U.S. Air Force Academy, with $0 in debt. 
  • 9 of the top 10 schools for best salary after graduating are private schools.
  • 32 of the top 50 schools are private when you look at the best college selected for each state.

Selecting the right college balances cost and post-graduate salary. We balance in-state tuition vs. out-of-state tuition, private vs. public, scholarships vs. strong alumni programs. But students want to make the most out of their time. So how do you measure all the different pieces? What tells us which school is best? Forbes looked at five categories to determine the best schools: alumni salary (20%), student satisfaction (20%), debt (20%), American leaders (15%), on-time graduation rates (12.5%) and academic success (12.5%). Their approach attempted to balance various categories for choosing the right college.

Top 10 Colleges By State & Starting Salary

1. Stanford University, California, Private – $79,000
2. U.S. Air Force Academy, Colorado, Public – $76,300
3. Princeton University, New Jersey, Private – $75,200
4. Harvard University, Massachusetts, Private – $74,800
5. University of Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania, Private – $72,800
6. Darmouth University, New Hampshire, Private – $71,500
7. Duke University, North Carolina, Private – $71,100
8. Rice University, Texas, Private – $71,000
9. Yale University, Connecticut, Private – $70,300
10. Cornell University, New York, Private – $70,100

People often think the more money you spend the better the education. That isn’t necessarily true. You don’t have to spend more on college to get a better education. Beyond the Ivy League colleges many excellent choices exist, even for low income families. Government schools like the U.S. Air Force Academy offer an opportunity to exchange for public service

Students look at a variety of factors when they choose their school. Deciding where to go balances factors such as living costs, average loan size needed, scholarships available, degrees offered, as well as post-graduate placement. While each person’s situation is unique, it’s important to look at what matters to you. Strong alumni programs help students find jobs after college. Brand names like Harvard and Stanford help to open doors with big power brokers. Hidden gems like Yale may surprise you at how affordable they can be.

Looking past personal bias, do these numbers make sense? Does the Forbes methodology include all the important factors to find the best colleges? Or do they miss some key elements? Let us know in the comments.

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