What makes a college great? They provide a quality education and graduate students on time, they set graduates up to earn well-paying jobs early in their career, and they provide a memorable and enjoyable campus experience that instills pride and loyalty for decades to come.
Business Insider's 2016 ranking uses a formula that relies very little on glamour statistics, like reputation and selectivity, that are featured in many college rankings. Instead, they primarily leaned on data available from the government, weighting early-career earnings and graduation rate the highest.
College years are formative for young adults, so they also gave significant credit to schools that provide a top-notch student-life experience, as measured by Niche, a company that compiles research on schools. Niche assessed the social and community life of universities and provided letter grades based on metrics like campus quality, diversity, party scene, student retention, safety, and athletics.
Other factors that counted for less and rounded out each school's score: full-time retention rate, average annual cost (after accounting for scholarships and financial aid), average SAT score of incoming students, and admittance rate. Read more about the methodology.
See the full list of the best colleges in the US, with UVA coming in as the top public school and ranked 9th overall.