RANKING COLLEGES is almost as difficult as picking one to attend, but the biggest mistake you can make in either case is allowing yourself to be swayed by good PR. “Where to go to college has nothing to do with the size of a school’s football team or how often they appear on television,” says Bob Mahmoudi, president of advising firm College Planning Solutions. “Not that those don’t matter, but they shouldn’t be impacting decisions about where to go.”
So when ranking the top 39 schools in the Northwest, we focused on the qualities that, taken together, have an effect on not only the college experience but everything that comes after it: How involved in the community are the students? How likely are they to give to their alma mater after graduating? (And by extension, how much did they like their alma mater?) How happy are they with the education they got and where it took them in life?
Yes, we factored in numbers that favor highfalutin bastions of book learnin’, too, but this list is for those who are more interested in how the whole package adds up (whether prospective students, anxious parents of the same, or proud alums) than just a diploma from a prestigious institution.