We scored our desirability ranking based on yield (the percentage of accepted students who enroll), admissions, test scores, endowment, student-to-faculty ratio, retention, as well as climate and the quality of facilities, housing, and dining. When we adjusted our overall school desirability ranking to include only schools in rural areas, there were lots of schools that offered a quintessential New England college experience like Dartmouth, Williams, Amherst, and Bowdoin, all well-regarded bastions of the liberal arts. Less familiar? College of the Ozarks, Berea College, and New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, all of which rank among the top 10 most desirable rural schools. What makes these unsung institutions stand out? A number of factors, but all three are small and specialized and have remarkably competitive admissions. And Berea’s tuition is basically free.
Contributing editor Peter Bernstein and researcher Courtney Kennedy drew on dozens of sources to compile these rankings including information from the National Center for Education Statistics, The Washington Monthly, and College Prowler. A portion of the data they used is represented in the following school profiles, but for the full methodologies, see our FAQ here. And if you’re not a rankings fan, take a look at this piece by Colin Diver, the president of Reed College, about why schools dislike rankings and how families can use them wisely as part of their college decision-making process.
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