In one of our favorite categories in the 2013 Unigo College Rankings, today's list features colleges whose students couldn't be more proud of their alma mater.
The Top 10 Schools That Are the Next Generation of Excellence
<a href="http://www.unigo.com/boston_college/?utm_source=HuffingtonPost&utm_medium=Rankings&utm_campaign=NewIvies2012" target="_hplink"><strong>See everything students say about Boston College on Unigo.com</strong></a> The city of Boston is home to a slew of famous and revered educational institutions, and on the eve of its 150th anniversary, Boston College is making sure it has a place at the table with schools like Harvard and MIT. While the college is known for its substantial workload and comprehensive core curriculum, students say that a BC education, while demanding, is more varied than it gets credit for, with both lecturers who energize their charges even in a class of 300 and professors who give out their cell phone numbers so students can reach them twenty-four seven. In 2007, BC debuted the “Master Plan,” a decade-long, 1.6 billion dollar project to revamp the campus and bolster the faculty line-up. The idea took some time getting through the city's approval process, but finally picked up steam in 2009. In the coming years, the school will add several new academic buildings, a recreation center, hundreds of spots for student housing, and even refurbish the campus green. With its commitment to academic rigor, a far-reaching improvement plan, and one of the largest endowments in the country, Boston College is ready to cement its place among the big boys of academia.
<a href="http://www.unigo.com/georgetown_university/?utm_source=HuffingtonPost&utm_medium=Rankings&utm_campaign=NewIvies2012" target="_hplink"><strong>See everything student say about Georgetown on Unigo.com</strong></a> Known for an ambitious student body and strong business and government programs, Georgetown is a perfect fit for the culture of Washington DC. In fact, many professors come to the school with a wealth of insider experience, which is certainly a plus for the undergraduate with his or her eyes on the next steps after graduation. But that doesn't mean relations with the neighbors are always smooth, and some in the surrounding area have expressed concern about expansion. Which is why Georgetown, which is required by the city to release a ten-year plan every decade outlining its development goals, is taking a different tack. Instead of concerning itself with increasing the size of the campus or the student body, the school is freezing enrollment numbers in several areas and focusing on updating its current infrastructure – certainly a draw for anyone who is wary of the increasing class sizes many up-and-coming schools are experiencing. Meanwhile, the school is constantly adding initiatives, institutes, and programs that examine everything from health care disparities in the DC area to ethical considerations in business environments.
<a href="http://www.unigo.com/macalester_college/?utm_source=HuffingtonPost&utm_medium=Rankings&utm_campaign=NewIvies2012" target="_hplink"><strong>See everything students say about Macalester on Unigo.com</strong></a> Macalester College doesn't have the name recognition of some other schools on this list, but the student body doesn't seem to mind: many claim that part of what makes the Macalester experience so special is the particularly tight bond of the relatively small on-campus community. But they might have to get used to the idea of getting more attention, because the school has seen its profile rise in recent years. Since the '90s, Macalester has quietly added several new facilities to its campus, including a renowned library and a state-of-the-art athletic center, and the school is beginning to reap the benefits of its efforts. The school is also on the forefront of green initiatives being taken by colleges and universities across America: plastic water bottles are no longer available on campus, the school recently agreed to protect 150 acres of undeveloped land along the Mississippi River, and it was recently awarded a STARS Silver Rating for sustainability. Combined with a faculty who place emphasis on forging real connections with their students and a rigorous, discussion-based curriculum, these recent steps forward have made Macalester a hot location for the liberal-minded student.
<a href="http://www.unigo.com/university_of_california-los_angeles/?utm_source=HuffingtonPost&utm_medium=Rankings&utm_campaign=NewIvies2012" target="_hplink"><strong>See everything students say about UCLA on Unigo.com</strong></a> While the sheer scale of UCLA can seem daunting – it educates over 26,000 undergraduates alone – a student looking for a big-city school that fires on all cylinders would be hard pressed to find a better option. Consistently ranked among the best public schools in not just the country but the world, UCLA boasts strong programs in areas like biology, political science, and history – and while class sizes are often large and one-on-one time with professors can be hard to come by, students maintain that the education you receive at UCLA is still unparalleled. This shouldn't be too surprising, considering its faculty contains recipients of Nobel Prizes, Fields Medals, and Pulitzers. Then, of course, there is the school's athletic prowess, which is just as notable as its academic rigor. The Bruins produce world-class athletes in football, baseball, basketball, and soccer – and those are just the team sports. In fact, the school just had thirty-two current and former students make their way to London for the 2012 Summer Olympics. It's not hard to imagine feeling lost amid this de facto city of a university, packed with big names and big achievements, but that doesn't seem to be much of a deterrent: the school saw its highest number of applicants ever last year.
<a href="http://www.unigo.com/university_of_michigan-ann_arbor/?utm_source=HuffingtonPost&utm_medium=Rankings&utm_campaign=NewIvies2012" target="_hplink"><strong>See everything students say about University of Michigan on Unigo.com</strong></a> The University of Michigan is one of the most active research universities in the country, and – thanks to a hefty endowment and a vast network of alumni – was able to wield a one billion dollar budget for research purposes, a figure which should make any student interested in science, math, or technology start fantasizing about the possibilities available at the school. The school’s English program is also notably strong, and creative-minded students should be aware that the university has produced eighteen Pulitzer Prize winners – and they’d be walking the same halls as famous writers like Arthur Miller and Susan Orlean, On the field, the Wolverines have won more Big Ten Football Championships than any other team, and students and alums from the school have won medals at every Summer Olympic games for over a century. And despite the dust-up surrounding the affirmative action policy nearly a decade ago, the school is committed to developing new ways to foster diversity in its student body by focusing on factors like the quality of a student’s school system, family income, and the education level of their parents. If you’re looking for a school that combines what could be called the traditional American college experience with cutting edge academics and one-of-a-kind opportunities, University of Michigan is likely the place for you.
<a href="http://www.unigo.com/swarthmore_college/?utm_source=HuffingtonPost&utm_medium=Rankings&utm_campaign=NewIvies2012" target="_hplink"><strong>See everything students say about Swarthmore on Unigo.com</strong></a> Like many of the schools on this list, Swarthmore places a high emphasis on academic achievement, but breaks from the more traditional, conservative model that is often found with larger institutions. The first semester of freshman year is automatically pass/fail and GPAs aren't calculated – all in an effort to encourage exploration and discourage competition among its student body. (And while ranking isn't in style at Swarthmore, it's still worth noting that one-third of the class of 2016 were valedictorians or salutatorians of their high-school classes.) The college is also a forward-thinker when it comes to finances, recently voting to eliminate student loans from financial aid packages and replace them with additional scholarships. In the coming years, the administration at the school will focus on a range of projects, including an update to its engineering and biology facilities, its library, and residential facilities to better fit the needs of its increasing student body. On top of that, the school has also outlined a vision for the Swarthmore Institute for Liberal Arts, which would examine the state of liberal arts education around the world and seek to develop innovations that would keep such an education vital.
<a href="http://www.unigo.com/pomona_college/?utm_source=HuffingtonPost&utm_medium=Rankings&utm_campaign=NewIvies2012" target="_hplink"><strong>See everything students say about Pomona on Unigo.com</strong></a> While Pomona College is a small school with an undergraduate class of less than 2,000 students have access to many more opportunities than one might expect at a school of that size. As part of a consortium of five schools around the town of Claremont, California, Pomona provides its undergraduates with both an exceptional level of attention from professors and resources typical of a much larger school. And while academic excellence is a common goal among the students – a recent class was awarded the most Fulbright Scholarships of any liberal arts school in the nation – Pomona undergrads have compared their college experience to a four-year vacation thanks to the school's beautiful campus and emphasis on dorm living. (98% of students live on campus.) Thanks to its increasingly positive reputation, Pomona was able to drop its acceptance rate down to nearly 12% of applicants. And the college is taking advantage of this moment: last year Pomona added two eco-friendly residence halls, and current plans for development include a field station on 50 acres of recently acquired wilderness and a center that will double the space available for studio arts.
<a href="http://www.unigo.com/wesleyan_university/?utm_source=HuffingtonPost&utm_medium=Rankings&utm_campaign=NewIvies2012" target="_hplink"><strong>See everything students say about Wesleyan on Unigo.com</strong></a> Wesleyan University has long been noted for the outstanding talents of its student body, and for good reason – its graduates go on to receive scores of Fulbright, Rhodes, and Truman scholarships (among others), score consistently well on admission tests for graduate school, and earn PhDs in astonishingly large numbers. It is widely considered a “feeder school” for many of the best-respected graduate programs in the country. And despite the obvious amount of attention paid to academic achievement, its students still manage to have vibrant, active social lives (even if there's not much to do off campus). Wesleyan is also notable for avoiding a problem found at many highly regarded liberal arts schools: namely, a lack of diversity among the student body. The school is considered one of the best choices for minority students in the country, and current students often point to the representation of so many different backgrounds and cultures as one of Wesleyan's best features. Since 2000, the school has added or overhauled on-campus facilities with space for a career center, dining services, recitals, lectures, the Wesleyan Student Assembly, and much more. It's no wonder the amount of applicants the school receives has been climbing at such a sharp rate over the last five years.
<a href="http://www.unigo.com/emory_university/?utm_source=HuffingtonPost&utm_medium=Rankings&utm_campaign=NewIvies2012" target="_hplink"><strong>See everything students say about Emory on Unigo.com</strong></a> Thanks to a long and fruitful relationship with Coca-Cola, Emory University in Atlanta has been able to turn itself into one of the top research universities in the country with a reputation for driven students who have success on their minds. While the school is acclaimed for general excellence in its academics, it is perhaps most notable for the strength of its pre-professional programs, from business to nursing. Undergraduates who are looking for a liberal arts education, though, won't be disappointed: not only is there the Emory College of Arts and Sciences, but prospective students can also apply to spend their first two years at Oxford College, located on the school's original campus outside of the city, which provides a more intimate experience more commonly found at a small college. Like many schools on this list, Emory saw record numbers of applications last year, and students’ choosing the school early decision has increased as well. Unsurprisingly, the school has recently been renovating and augmenting its residential facilities to handle the growing student population. As it expands, Emory is also trying to establish itself as a school committed to environmental sustainability: a policy is in place that keeps at least half of the campus as green space, the school boasts one of the largest amounts of LEED-certified square footage in the US, and it plans to have three-fourths of the food served on campus come from local and sustainable sources by 2015.
<a href="http://www.unigo.com/new_york_university/?utm_source=HuffingtonPost&utm_medium=Rankings&utm_campaign=NewIvies2012" target="_hplink"><strong>See everything students say about NYU on Unigo.com</strong></a> For a student looking for a college experience in an urban environment, it's hard to beat New York University. Located mainly in New York City's Greenwich Village, the school caters to all kinds of students; how many universities can claim to be just as renowned for their business school as they are for their performing arts programs? (Among its alumni, the school can boast nearly the same amount of Nobel Prize winners as Academy Award winners.) And while many New York City residents already feel that New York University owns half the land in lower Manhattan, that's not stopping the educational juggernaut from massive expansion projects. The plan, called NYU 2031 in honor of the school's bicentennial year, would refurbish the existing facilities of the main campus, but nearly half of the development would take place in other locations, including Manhattan's east side, Downtown Brooklyn, and Governor's Island. Of course, the school is casting its eye much further than that: in 2010 it opened its first “portal campus,” NYU Abu Dhabi, and in 2013 it will do the same in Shanghai. At a time when many schools are facing significant financial hardships, NYU is increasing the size and scope of a university that was already considered top-notch.
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