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Military academies are top three public national liberal arts colleges in U.S. News rankings

U.S. Military Academy cadets give their families a round of applause during their graduation ceremony May 26, 2018.

JAMES K. MCCANN/DOD

By ZLATI MEYER | USA Today | Published: September 10, 2018

(Tribune News Service) Three service academies are the top public national liberal arts schools in U.S. News & World Report's new 2019 college rankings.

The U.S. Military Academy was first, followed by the U.S. Naval Academy and the U.S. Air Force Academy. The result's not too surprising: The ranking of public national liberal arts schools was exactly the same for 2018, and the Naval Academy,  Military Academy and Air Force Academy made up the top three for 2017. 

U.S. News uses a variety of factors to compile its annual rankings, which include Best Colleges for Veterans picks for schools that participate in federal initiatives helping veterans and active-duty servicemembers pay for their degrees.

This year, for the first time, the schools were evaluated based on how well they enroll and graduate low-income students. The report also breaks out the colleges where students get the best value for their money after need-based grants kick in.

That now includes an analysis of the graduation rates of students who receive Pell Grants, federal subsidies for low-income students, and the differences in graduation rates of Pell Grant students and students who didn't receive this funding. As part of the U.S. News methodology shift, the category called student outcomes, which was weighted 30 percent last year, is now at 35 percent.

“A university is not successful if it does not graduate its students, which is why the Best Colleges rankings place the greatest value on outcomes, including graduation and retention rates,” Robert Morse, chief data strategist at U.S. News, said in a statement. “By including social mobility indicators, U.S. News is further recognizing colleges that serve all of their students, regardless of economic status.”

Here are the top schools in some of the major categories:

Best national universities

1. Princeton University (NJ)
2. Harvard University (MA)
3. Columbia University (NY) (tie)
3. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (tie)
3. University of Chicago (tie)
3. Yale University (CT) (tie)

Best national liberal arts colleges

1. Williams College (MA)
2. Amherst College (MA)
3. Swarthmore College (PA) (tie)
3. Wellesley College (MA) (tie)

Best public schools

National universities

1. University of California-Los Angeles
2. University of California-Berkeley
3. University of Virginia

National liberal arts colleges

1. United States Military Academy (NY)
2. United States Naval Academy (MD)
3. United States Air Force Academy (CO)

Best value schools

National universities

1. Princeton University (NJ)
2. Harvard University (MA)
3. Massachusetts Institute of Technology

National liberal arts colleges

1. Williams College (MA)
2. Pomona College (CA)
3. Amherst College (MA)

Best historically black colleges and universities

1. Spelman College (GA)
2. Howard University (DC)
3. Hampton University (VA) (tie)
3. Morehouse College (GA) (tie)

For the complete U.S. News rankings, visit https://www.usnews.com/best-colleges.

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