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The 10 Best Colleges in America

What makes a school great? Every publication that ranks colleges and universities has its own methodology, usually a combination of test scores prior to entering school and starting salary after graduation. Business Insider, which debuted its seventh annual ranking this week, uses SAT scores per College Board, median starting salary for grads according to PayScale, and feedback from a survey of over 1,000 readers. Their list might not contain many surprises, but it does provide insight into what makes a top school in 2015.

What makes a school great? Every publication that ranks colleges and universities has its own methodology, usually a combination of test scores prior to entering school and starting salary after graduation. Business Insider, which debuted its seventh annual ranking this week, uses SAT scores per College Board, median starting salary for grads according to PayScale, and feedback from a survey of over 1,000 readers. Their list might not contain many surprises, but it does provide insight into what makes a top school in 2015.

MIT 

(Photo Credit: shoothead/Flickr)

The full list is here. These are the top 10:

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1. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

Average SAT Score: 2230

Median Starting Salary: $70,300

Median Mid-Career Salary: $128,800

Percent High Meaning: 57.8%

2. Stanford University

Average SAT Score: 2215

Median Starting Salary: $62,900

Median Mid-Career Salary: $126,400

Percent High Meaning: 62.3%

3. Harvard University

Average SAT Score: 2260

Median Starting Salary: $57,700

Median Mid-Career Salary: $118,200

Percent High Meaning: 65.6%

4. Princeton University

Average SAT Score: 2250

Median Starting Salary: $60,000

Median Mid-Career Salary: $113,900

Percent High Meaning: 57.0%

5. California Institute of Technology (Caltech)

Average SAT Score: 2310

Median Starting Salary: $74,800

Median Mid-Career Salary: $126,200

Percent High Meaning: 60.0%

6. Yale University

Average SAT Score: 2255

Median Starting Salary: $58,500

Median Mid-Career Salary: $115,100

Percent High Meaning: 64.6%

7. Duke University

Average SAT Score: 2240

Median Starting Salary: $59,500

Median Mid-Career Salary: $108,000

Percent High Meaning: 61.8%

8. Columbia University

Average SAT Score: 2220

Median Starting Salary: $59,200

Median Mid-Career Salary: $101,100

Percent High Meaning: 57.1%

9. University of Pennsylvania

Average SAT Score: 2190

Median Starting Salary: $59,300

Median Mid-Career Salary: $112,200

Percent High Meaning: 53.4%

10. Dartmouth College

Average SAT Score: 2195

Median Starting Salary: $55,500

Median Mid-Career Salary: $104,700

Percent High Meaning: 46.7%

Note: All SAT scores from College Board, per Business Insider. Salary and meaning data from PayScale.

The question for students is, does a top school mean the best school for you? Ivy Leaguers enjoy instant admission to a wide, deep network of loyal alums, which can translate into better career opportunities down the road, but even without one of the ranking best schools on your resume, a solid network is within reach, if you’re willing to develop it yourself through internships, volunteer work, and cultivating relationships with professors and fellow students.

If you’re a prospective college student, the goal is to find the school that allows you to build the best career for you, which means paying attention to factors like reputation, available fields of study, networking opportunities, and yes, earning potential after graduation. For more on the later, look for PayScale’s upcoming updated College Salary Report.

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In your opinion, what are the most important factors when ranking schools? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.

Jen Hubley Luckwaldt
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