Each year, U.S. News and World Report releases their college rankings. Click through the gallery to learn which 10 liberal arts colleges rank at the top of their 2013 list.
The methodology behind the ranking rests on two pillars. According to U.S. News and World Report, "The formula uses quantitative measures that education experts have proposed as reliable indicators of academic quality, and it's based on our researched view of what matters in education."
The indicators used for academic quality include: "assessment by administrators at peer institutions, retention of students, faculty resources, student selectivity, financial resources, alumni giving, and high school counselor ratings of colleges and graduation rate performance."
Learn more about how the schools are chosen here and see the full list of the top 50 liberal arts schools here.
10. Claremont McKenna College
Claremont McKenna is part of a five-school group located in Claremont, California that includes fellow liberal arts colleges Scripps, Pomona, Harvey Mudd, and Pitzer. Ninety-six percent of Claremont McKenna students stay beyond their freshman year, and 85 percent graduate on time. An all-men’s college until 1976, it is one of the few liberal arts schools that has more men than women.
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9. Haverford College
This Haverford, Pennsylvania college was founded by Quakers in 1833, and it boasts the most extensive collection of Quaker history in the world. Ninety-six percent of its students stay beyond their freshman year, and 91 percent graduate on time. The only American college with a varsity cricket team, Haverford also maintains an exchange program with Bryn Mawr, Swarthmore, and University of Pennsylvania.
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8. Carleton College
Located in Northfield Minnesota, Carleton is the only college to make the top ten that runs on a trimester system. Ninety-seven percent of its students return for their sophomore year, and 88 percent graduate on time. The school's Goodsell Observatory, built in 1887, is one of the oldest observatories on a college campus. Before finals, students partake in the silent dance party, where they wear headphones and jam out to their own tunes.
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6. (tied) Bowdoin College
Brunswick, Maine’s Bowdoin does things its own way while maintaining a 96 percent retention rate and graduating 88 percent of its students in four years. The school doesn’t have fraternities; instead, it has university-owned social houses. Bowdoin was an all-men's school until 1971, and more than half of its students study abroad for a semester through affiliated academic programs.
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6. Wellesley College
Wellesley, located in Wellesley, Massachusetts, is the only women's college to make the list. One of the Seven Sisters—with Mount Holyoke, Smith, Byn Mawr, Barnard, Vassar, and Radcliffe (now part of Harvard)—it also has cross registration with MIT. Wellesley keep a low 8:1 student-to-faculty ratio, and retains 95 percent of its freshman class.
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4. (tied) Middlebury College
Vermont's Middlebury is one of the few schools that utilizes a 4-1-4 academic calendar. Students take four classes in both fall and spring semesters, and one during a four-week winter period. The school retains 96 percent of freshman and has a 9:1 student-to-faculty ratio. Its four-year graduation rate is 84 percent; however, its six-year graduation rate is 96 percent.
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4. Pomona College
This California school is in the same five-school group as other top ten list maker Claremont McKenna. Pomona has the highest retention rate at 98 percent, and 91 percent of students graduate in four years. In addition, more than half of Pomona's students receive financial aid from the College.
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3. Swarthmore College
Swarthmore's campus is only 11 miles south of Philadelphia but is tucked away in its 400-acre arboretum. The school retains 97 percent of its freshmen and boasts one of the highest four-year graduation rates at 91 percent. They stand out from other liberal arts colleges by offering a bachelor of science in engineering.
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2. Amherst College
Massachusetts' Amherst boasts an impressive 98 percent freshman retention rate, a 9:1 student-to-faculty ratio, and it graduates 87 percent of its students in four years. What sets Amherst apart from other liberal arts colleges is the unique community it provides for students. The campus maintains a 500-acre wildlife sanctuary, has banned fraternities, and is one of the few liberal arts colleges that has more male students than female. They are also in a consortium with Hampshire College, Mount Holyoke, Smith College, and UMass Amherst.
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1. Williams College
Also located in Massachusetts, Williams has a secret formula that makes it the best liberal arts college in the country. It employs an Oxford-style tutorial system, where undergraduates are placed in discussion sections. There, they critique, analyze, and defend their work and ideas in small student groups—further lowering the 7:1 student-to-faculty ratio. Combined with a 4-1-4 academic calendar, Williams is delivering a different kind of education. It’s no surprise that its boasts a 97 percent freshman retention rate.
Andrew Freeman is a California native with a degree in history from UCLA. He’s covered a wide range of topics for TakePart, but is particularly interested in politics and policy. Email Andrew |@natureofdabeast | TakePart.com