What do you do if you are a high school student with less-than-dazzling grades and SAT/ACT scores and you still want to go to a very good school? U.S. News has an answer, and it's not looking at the main rankings. You should instead head to the exclusive list of "A-plus Options for B Students" for quality colleges that accept a significant number of applicants in the average-to-above-average range.
These schools welcome and challenge serious B students with a desire to achieve. The list features over 300 schools that are both respectably rated by U.S. News in the 2008 edition of America's Best Colleges and that students without straight A's will have a decent chance of getting into. We worked with college admissions deans to help brainstorm the criteria that should be used for this valuable list of strong schools that regularly admit potentially promising applicants.
Click on these links to see the names of those schools in each of these categories:
• National Universities
• Liberal Arts Colleges
• Master's Universities—Northern
• Master's Universities—Southern
• Master's Universities—Midwestern
• Master's Universities—Western
• Baccalaureate Colleges—Northern
• Baccalaureate Colleges—Southern
• Baccalaureate Colleges—Midwestern
• Baccalaureate Colleges—Western
How does U.S. News figure something like this out?To judge the level of quality at each of the schools, we examined a number of variables. First, the school's U.S.News & World Report ranking: National universities and liberal arts colleges had to be in the top two thirds of their categories; master's universities and baccalaureate colleges had to be in the top half. Second, the average freshman retention rate (the percentage of first-year freshmen who returned for sophomore year) was also calculated for first-year classes entering between 2002 and 2005; schools that made the cut bring at least 75 percent of their freshmen back the next fall. Finally, after a school made those two cuts, we then examined whether the college admits a meaningful proportion of non-A students. That determination was made by using fall 2006 admissions data such as the Critical Reading and Math portions of the SAT or Composite ACT scores and high school class standing. A school's profile had to fit within these ranges; otherwise, it was eliminated from the list.
• SAT 75th percentile less than or equal to 1350
• SAT 25th percentile greater than or equal to 980
• ACT 75th percentile less than or equal to 30
• ACT 25th percentile greater than or equal to 20
• Proportion of freshmen from the top 10 percent of their high school class less than or equal to 50 percent (for National Universities and Liberal Arts only)
• Proportion of freshmen from the top 25 percent of their high school class less than or equal to 80 percent
• Proportion of freshmen from the top 25 percent of their high school class greater than or equal to 40 percent
• Freshman retention rate greater than or equal to 75 percent