Beyond the Rankings: How to Pick a College

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It was a banner year for the Bay Area and California in Forbes' annual rankings of top U.S. colleges. Stanford took the top spot, followed by Pomona College in Claremont, while UC Berkeley was the best-ranked public university. Forbes' list, released on Wednesday, relied on such criteria as student satisfaction, post-college success, and student debt levels. But how useful and reliable are such rankings in choosing a school? And what will the recent Congressional deal on college loan rates mean for students and their parents? We discuss what to look for -- and what mistakes to avoid -- when choosing a college.


Richard Vedder, distinguished professor of economics at Ohio University and director of the Center for College Affordability and Productivity

Marty Nemko, career and education counselor; and weekly contributor to and His articles on education and on career are available on

Ethan Ris, founder of Ethan Ris & Associates College Admissions Counseling

Mindy Ng, Senior at Berkeley High School

Katia Ambrocio, incoming freshman at University of California Santa Barbara, a graduate of Casa Grande High School