Today the Washington Monthly releases its annual College Guide and Rankings. This is our answer to U.S News & World Report, which relies on crude and easily manipulated measures of wealth, exclusivity, and prestige for its rankings. Instead, we rate schools based on what they are doing for the country — on whether they’re improving social mobility, producing research, and promoting public service.

The Washington Monthly’s unique methodology yields striking results.

  • Only two of U.S. News’ top ten schools, Stanford and Harvard, make the Washington Monthly’s top ten. Yale, Columbia, Brown and Dartmouth don’t even crack our top 40.
  • Instead, the University of California – San Diego (our #1 national university for the sixth year in a row) and the University of Texas – El Paso (unranked by U.S. News but #10 on our list) leave the Ivy League in the dust.
  • While 19 of the top 20 U.S. News universities are private, 16 of the top 20 Washington Monthly universities are accessible, affordable, high-quality public universities.

This year we also offer an exclusive list of “Best Bang for the Buck” colleges — schools that do the best job helping non-rich students earn marketable degrees at affordable prices. Dominating the list are schools that U.S. News relegates to its lower tiers–places like Berea College and California State-Fullerton. These schools may not be big names nationally, but they deliver for their students big-time.

This year’s College Guide also includes in-depth feature stories that ask tough questions about our increasingly unfair and expensive higher education system, including:

The complete 2015 college rankings and feature stories can be found here.

Paul Glastris

Paul Glastris is the editor in chief of the Washington Monthly. A former speechwriter for President Bill Clinton, he is writing a book on America’s involvement in the Greek War of Independence.