Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Forbes/CCAP Best Western Schools

By Jonathan Robe

The West is the only region besides the Northeast which populates the very top of the list in the 2009 Forbes/CCAP list of Best American Colleges. Three of the Top 10 schools are in the West: Cal Tech, the Air Force Academy, and Stanford. In the nation’s top 100, though, only 14 colleges and universities are located in the West, making this region somewhat underrepresented in terms of its population. However, in the Best Buy ranking, the West fares much better with 22 schools in the Top 100, suggesting that schools in this region may be more focused than elsewhere in the country with providing affordable education to their students.

The top schools in the West include a diverse mixture of research universities and liberal arts colleges, both private and public, though 13 of the top 25 are private baccalaureate colleges. Cal Tech, the top Western school, is a private university and has a very high research focus (no other school receives more federal research grants), attracting some of the nation’s brightest students. The second school in the West, the U.S. Air Force Academy, is of a very different nature: it is a public baccalaureate school, focusing almost exclusively on undergraduate instruction instead of research.

Californian schools dominate in the West—13 of the 25 best Western colleges and universities are in the Golden state, including Cal Tech, Stanford, four of the Claremont colleges, two of the UC campuses (Berkeley and LA) and Mills and St. Mary’s colleges. These schools range from the very large UCLA (undergraduate enrollment over 25,000) to close-knit Harvey Mudd (fewer than 800 undergraduates). Also, California provides some of the nation’s most affordable schools, including many of the University of California campuses: Berkeley, Los Angeles, San Diego, Riverside, Santa Barbara, Irvine, Davis, and Santa Cruz are all among the 25 most affordable universities in the West. Two private California schools, Vanguard U. and Cal Tech, are also on the Best Buy list.

Elsewhere in the region, Whitman, Reed, and Colorado colleges are among the best liberal arts colleges while George Fox and Pacific universities, along with the University of Utah, are in the top 25 Western research universities. Many of the region’s Best Buy schools are public (19 of the top 25), featuring the University of Wyoming, Arizona State, and the University Colorado at Boulder, among others. The region’s top Best Buy private school is BYU, well known for its distinctive religious affiliation. Pacific University and Mills College not only are among the region’s best in terms of quality but are also among those which provide affordable education to their students.

25 Best Western Colleges*

1 California Institute of Technology (3)
2 United States Air Force Academy (7)
3 Stanford University (10)
4 Whitman College (20)
5 Claremont McKenna College (27)
6 Pomona College (28)
7 Harvey Mudd College (33)
8 Reed College (44)
9 Colorado College (53)
10 Mills College (55)
11 St. Mary's College of California (56)
12 George Fox University (58)
13 UC, Berkeley (73)
14 UCLA (78)
15 College of Idaho (108)
16 BYU, Idaho (116)
17 Scripps College (136)
18 St. John's College (137)
19 University of Puget Sound (143)
20 UC, San Diego (149)
21 Santa Clara University (150)
22 Pacific University (153)
23 University of Utah (158)
24 Linfield College (165)
25 Occidental College (166)

25 Best Buy Western Colleges*

1 United States Air Force Academy (4)
2 University of Wyoming (5)
3 UCLA (8)
4 UC, Berkeley (10)
5 UC, San Diego (23)
6 UC, Riverside (25)
7 California Maritime Academy (26)
8 Arizona State University (28)
9 U. of Colorado, Boulder (29)
10 UC, Santa Barbara (30)
11 UC, Irvine (36)
12 UC, Davis (37)
13 University of Arizona (41)
14 UC, Santa Cruz (45)
15 University of Washington (46)
16 Brigham Young University (54)
17 Colorado State University (59)
18 Northern Arizona University (64)
19 Vanguard U. of S. California (67)
20 College of Idaho (69)
21 University of Oregon (86)
22 California Inst. of Technology (87)
23 Colorado School of Mines (109)
24 Pacific University (116)
25 Mills College (136)

* Numbers in parentheses are from the national rankings.

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