Although many scholars will disagree on the top colleges in the United States, there are certainly many colleges that stand out and frequently make such lists, while there are also a substantial number of institutions that are slowly gaining in popularity and prestige. This list will attempt to jumble the exact rank of best colleges and instead provide a mix of traditionally elite schools with new up-and-coming colleges.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Recognized as one of the top elite schools, MIT strives to prepare students for post-graduate success. With an average starting salary of about $70,000, MIT graduates have gone on to work for companies such as Google, Morgan Stanley, JP Morgan Chase, and Oracle. The average SAT score is 2230.

Pomona College

This small private California liberal arts college offers students over 2,000 courses and 47 different majors. Students can choose to study abroad in 34 countries or participate in 220 different school organizations. Pomona boasts a tight 8:1 student to teacher ratio which emphasizes personalized learning and individual interactions.

Stanford University

Admitting less than 6% of all total applicants, Stanford is one of the most competitive schools in the nation. With a focus on research, it has funded over 5,300 outside projects totaling over a billion dollars. Stanford boasts well-renowned alumni in the fields of business, politics, athletics, science research, and education.

Williams College

This small, elite, private liberal arts college in the Northeast allows students to choose from 36 different majors. The college offers over 150 student organizations and is also well-renowned for its athletic success. With a small 7:1 teacher-to-student ratio, a 17% admittance rate, an average ACT score range of 30-34, and successful alumni roster, Williams College definitely deserves the high ranking it has been awarded.

Princeton University

Princeton has consistently ranked as one of the top universities in the nation. Only 7% of applicants are admitted, although those who graduate have historically gone on to become presidents, serve on the executive board of Google or HP, win Nobel Prize awards, or become chief editors of popular magazines. Students can participate in innovative research, join in over 300 student organizations, or study in a library containing over 7 million different texts.

Yale University

Students here can choose from thousands of courses and over 80 different majors. With one of the largest libraries in the nation, students can gain access to substantial texts to help with research. Yale boasts a diverse list of alumni, including US presidents, business leaders, and renowned scholars, although with a 6% acceptance rate it is definitely elite and difficult to gain admittance.

Harvard University

As the first higher-learning institution in the United States, it is imperative to include this elite school in any list of top US universities. Harvard has an impressive alumni roster that includes politicians, artists, entrepreneurs, scientists, and writers, and this continues to grow each year. It has the largest endowment in the nation, which it uses to provide students with state-of-the-art facilities and buildings.

Brown University

This liberal arts school offers students a unique and open curriculum with over 40 departments and no core class requirements, allowing students to explore more diverse areas of study and concentrate on a particular area. Students can focus on new fields of research, and Brown boasts many successful alumni.

Amherst College

As part of the Five College Consortium, students can take courses from several different institutions, increasing access to an increased variety of courses and teaching methods. Students can choose from over 35 majors and often study one-on-one with renowned academics in their field. Their athletic program is also very old and diverse.

Swarthmore College

Swarthmore offers over 600 courses and an intense honors program modelled after Oxford’s system for students willing to work for the challenge of taking top-ranked classes. The school is a consortium member with other institutions such as University of Pennsylvania and it produces a high number of successful PhD students. It has a Green Fund dedicated to reducing dependence on fossil fuels.