NORTHFIELD, Minnesota — Selecting a college can be one of the most important decisions a student can make in their young life. The right school can be a stepping stone to a good career fit and forging a comfortable and fulfilling life.
But not all schools are equal in the education and experience they provide, and things like cost, graduation rate and post-median salary are all considerations in deciding where a student gets their degree.
There's a lot riding on this decision: The early college-application deadline is Nov. 1, and tuition and room and board at a four-year college currently runs between $27,000 and $55,000 per year.
Personal finance website WalletHub has compiled a list of Minnesota's top 10 colleges, based on 30 metric measurements in seven different categories ranging from admission rate and student-faculty ratio to overall expense and on-campus crime. Here are the website's best bets.
Top 10 Colleges & Universities in Minnesota
1. Carleton College
2. Macalester College
3. St. Olaf College
4. University of Minnesota-Twin Cities
5. Concordia College at Moorhead
6. University of Minnesota-Morris
7. College of Saint Benedict
8. Bethany Lutheran College
9. Saint John's University
10. St. Catherine University
Here is a breakdown of why Carlteon, Macalester and St. Olaf are ranked by WalletHub as Minnesota's top-three.
School Snapshot: Carleton College (1 = Best; 11 = Average; 22 = Worst):
- 1st – Admission Rate
- 22nd – Net Cost
- 1st – Student-Faculty Ratio
- 18th – On-Campus Crime
- 2nd – Gender & Racial Diversity
- 1st – Graduation Rate
- 3rd – Post-Attendance Median Salary
School Snapshot: Macalester College (1 = Best; 11 = Average; 22 = Worst):
- 2nd – Admission Rate
- 21st – Net Cost
- 2nd – Student-Faculty Ratio
- 20th – On-Campus Crime
- 3rd – Gender & Racial Diversity
- 2nd – Graduation Rate
- 10th – Post-Attendance Median Salary
School Snapshot: St Olaf College (1 = Best; 11 = Average; 22 = Worst):
- 4th – Admission Rate
- 19th – Net Cost
- 7th – Student-Faculty Ratio
- 15th – On-Campus Crime
- 7th – Gender & Racial Diversity
- 3rd – Graduation Rate
- 6th – Post-Attendance Median Salary
While Carleton is ranked as Minnesota's best, it comes in just 42nd on WalletHub's overall list of the nation's top schools. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Princeton, California Institute of Technology (Cal Tech), Harvard and Yale are ranked as the country's top five.
“The one you can afford," answered WalletHub expert and University of Colorado Professor Dick Carpenter, Ph.D., when asked which college or university is the best bet. "For students with greater means, a small, higher-priced liberal arts college or the out-of-state public university located somewhere the student aspires to eventually pursue a career may be affordable, logical choices. For students with limited means, two years at a community college followed by two years at one of their state universities will provide them quality education and open up career opportunities without necessarily crushing them with debt. Where people attend college does not inexorably determine the trajectory of their lives. What they do with that education matters more.”
For the entire list of WalletHub's 1,015 ranked U.S. universities and colleges and the methodology used to evaluated them, check out their website.