This is a list of top schools whose freshman class is comprised of less than 50% of the top tenth of their high schools. You will definitely still find a large number of A students at most of these schools. Few public flagship universities will be on this list because they draw high numbers of in-state honors students, especially in Western and Southern states. Some institutions famous for being "safety schools", like George Washington University, actually won't be here because of the strength of their freshman class. Meanwhile some schools considered elite will be, often because they are surrounded by bigger names, particularly in the Northeast (especially Pennsylvania and New York) and the Midwest (especially Indiana ) or because they're powerhouse liberal arts colleges in states where most top students attend public universities (schools such as Hendrix, Sewanee, Millsaps, and Furman).
Here is how the ranking system works:
The factors considered in scoring: freshman retention, graduation rate, % of classes with fewer than 20 students, % of classes with more than 50 students, % of students in graduation in the top tenth of their high school class, and % of alumni donations.
I’m not a professional statistician or education expert, so this system is not perfect. However, experts say these metrics are strong indicators of student happiness, the happiness of graduates with their experience, the seriousness your student's classmates will take his or her education, and the school's dedication to providing personal attention to your student.
A sample score: Fauxville State University: Freshmen Retention: 75%, Graduation Rate: 50%, Classes 20 & under: 33%, Classes 50 & over: 24%, freshmen in the top 10% of their graduating class: 20%, and alumni giving: 10%.
Fauxville State’s score would be 75 + 50 + 33 – 24 + 20 + 10 = 164.A perfect score would be 500. This list includes schools that scored 275 or higher but have a freshman class rate with 49% (or below) graduating in the top tenth of their high school class.
However, there are also public colleges and universities as well as major private research universities listed scoring 230 or higher because otherwise this list would be almost entirely private liberal arts colleges. This list is not complete.
Note: Most of these schools are still "reach schools" for many students. Ask a college's representative if, based on your record, you would have likely been admitted the previous year. You might also ask your high school guidance counselor. A B student at a private school like Horace Mann or Exeter can have totally different opportunities than a B student at Average High School in rural America.
Score 324, Pennsylvania - Liberal Arts College
Location: Carlisle, Pennsylvania, United States of America
School type: Private university, Private school
Colors: White, Red
Mascot: Dickinson College Red Devil, Dickinson College Green Devilsee more on Dickinson College
Score 317.2 - Wisconsin - Liberal Arts College
Location: Appleton, Grand Chute, Wisconsin, United States of America
School type: Private school
Colors: White, Blue
Mascot: Vikingsee more on Lawrence University
Score 314.9 - New York - Liberal Arts College
Location: New York City, Saratoga Springs, New York, United States of America
School type: Private school, Liberal arts college
Colors: Yellow, White, Green
Mascot: Thoroughbredsee more on Skidmore College