What's key to selecting the best school for you? A strong sense of community, building friendships, working together, these are central to enjoying your time at college.
The Windward Code War is a very good measure of the depth of community within a school. And not just community, but also the love of programming for the pure joy of programming to be found in these schools. If you're looking to attend a school where the students love programming, and where the students have a strong sense of community, these nine schools should absolutely be on your list.
I'm not saying this should be your only measure -- and for many people it may not be an important one. If you're going into computer science for the money, then having fellow students there for the love of programming is irrelevant. If you want to be left alone, a strong community among the students could be a negative for you.
Also, not appearing on this list does not mean a school does not have programmers who love programming and/or a strong sense of community. CMU participated last year, but this year they had a major hackathon on the same weekend and so they might well have appeared on the above list.
On the flip side we're reached out to MIT every year and the response has been zero interest by the students in anything like this. So a school can be a very good academic institution and yet have a student body with no strong sense of community and no deep love of coding for the pure joy of it.
What's really interesting about the list is that five of the nine are on many of the top 10 C.S. schools lists (Mudd, Maryland, Georgia Tech, Purdue, & Penn). My guess is that students visiting Colleges do see that these schools have students that have created a community and love programming. And if that is really important to the prospective student, they'll also attend one of these schools. And if these traits are not important, then they'll also consider the other top schools.
There are also four hidden gems in the above list, Victoria, Mines, Alberta, and CSU. They're not top 10 schools, but not every student is going to get in a top 10 school (nor is a top 10 school the best place for many students). But what these other four clearly offer is a student body with a strong sense of community and students that love programming for the pure joy of programming.
If you love programming. And if you want a school that is a community, not just a set of classes you attend, some of the above schools should absolutely be on your list. Many schools can teach you the fundamentals of Computer Science. A school like the above ones makes the 4 years a lot more fun.
College is also really stressful. Having fellow students working with you, focused on making everyone successful, helps tremendously. And it's worlds better than the brutal (and unnecessary) environment of some schools where everyone is focused primarily on themselves.