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Best Colleges List Puts PA in the Top

A Pittsburgh based company known for its reviews of colleges and universities has released its list of the 100 Best Overall Colleges and it includes a pair from Southwestern Pennsylvania.

Niche.com, also known as College Prowler, looked at more than 2,000 4-year non-profit colleges.

“We looked at 50 statistical factors, we had opinions from 12 million students, and we really boiled it down to try and come up with an approach that really measured schools across the board, looking at everything from athletics to academics, to night life, to the price of the school,” said Niche CEO, Luke Skurman.

Academics were given the most weight in the ranking.

Pennsylvania had eight colleges in the top 100 including Penn State (#41), Carnegie Mellon (#68), and the University of Pittsburgh (#79). Pennsylvania tied at number three with California for states with the most colleges in the top 100. Massachusetts had the most in the top 100 with 11 colleges.

The ranking also put schools in sub categories. CMU landed at #4 in the Best Technology list and Pitt came in at #4 on the Best Transportation list.

“There is no ranking out there that does 50 statistical factors,” bragged Skurman. “The most we’ve ever seen was 15 statistical factors from Money Magazine. So we’ve done unbelievably well on the quantitative side, and then on the qualitative side, we normalize all these student opinions.”

Many of those factors come from students. Skurman said last year 30% of US high school students created an account on the site. 

The only other ranking that uses student opinions is the Princeton Review according to Skurman.

Students looking for factors other than “The Best” can look at lists such as “Best Administration”, “Best Athletics” “Smartest Students” and even “Hottest Girls/Guys”.

Jess was accepted as a WESA fellow in the news department in January 2014. The Erie, PA native attends Duquesne University where she has a double major--broadcast journalism and political science. Following her anticipated graduation in May 2015, she plans to enter law school or begin a career in broadcast journalism.