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Top schools for college-bound kids

In "The Best 361 Colleges," the Princeton Review rates the top institutions of higher learning (including the best places to party). Read an excerpt.
/ Source: TODAY

This fall, 2 million U.S. high school seniors are gearing up to apply to approximately 3,500 colleges. How will they know which school is right for them? Which are the strongest academically and the toughest to get into? Where are the top party schools? Robert Franek of the Princeton Review was invited on the “Today” show to discuss the all-important issues facing your college-bound kids and found in "The Best 361 Colleges: The Smart Student's Guide to Colleges." Here’s an excerpt:          

Best Overall Academic Experience for Undergraduates
Based on The Princeton Review Academic Rating

1. Reed College2. Marlboro College3. St. John’s College (NM)4. Swarthmore College5. Williams College

Students Happy With Financial Aid
Based on students’ assessments of how satisfied they are with their financial aid package.

1. Princeton University2. Lake Forest College3. Knox College4. Claremont McKenna College5. Truman State University

Students Dissatisfied With Financial Aid
Based on students’ assessments of how satisfied they are with their financial aid package.

1. New York University2. University of Mary Washington3. University of Massachusetts — Amherst4. Penn State University Park5. University of Tennessee — Knoxville

Happiest Students
Overall, how happy are you?

1. Stanford University2. Whitman College3. Brown University4. Southern Methodist University5. Rhodes College

Most Beautiful Campus
Based on students’ rating of campus beauty.

1. Pepperdine University2. Agnes Scott College3. Sweet Briar College4. College of the Atlantic5. Mercer University — Macon

Students Most Nostalgic for Bill Clinton
Based on students’ assessment of their personal political views.

1. Mills College2. Bard College3. New College of Florida4. Hampshire College5. Warren Wilson College

Party Schools
Based on a combination of survey questions concerning the use of alcohol and drugs, hours of study each day, and the popularity of the Greek system.

1. University of Wisconsin — Madison2. Ohio University — Athens3. Lehigh University4. University of California — Santa Barbara5. State University of New York at Albany

Excerpted from “The Best 361 Colleges, 2006 Edition” by Robert Franek et al. Copyright © 2005 by Princeton Review. Published by Princeton Review. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt can be used without permission of the publisher.