Which Schools Are A+ for B Students?

These are quality colleges that accept a good number of average to above-average students.

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What do you do if you are a high school student with less-than-dazzling grades and SAT/ACT test scores and you still want to go to a very good school? U.S. News has an answer, and it's not looking at our main 2010 edition of America's Best Colleges rankings.

You should instead head to our exclusive list of "A+ Schools 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 more than 300 schools that are both respectably rated by U.S. News in the 2010 edition of America's Best Colleges and that students without straight A's will have a decent chance at entering. We worked with college admissions deans to help brainstorm the criteria that should be used for this list of strong schools that regularly admit potentially promising applicants.

See the lists of A+ Schools for B Students in each of the following categories:

  • National Universities
  • Liberal Arts Colleges
  • Master's Universities–North
  • Master's Universities–South
  • Master's Universities–Midwest
  • Master's Universities–West
  • Baccalaureate Colleges–North
  • Baccalaureate Colleges–South
  • Baccalaureate Colleges–Midwest
  • Baccalaureate Colleges–West
  • To judge the level of quality at each of the schools in this list, we examined two variables: the school's U.S.News & World Report 2010 edition ranking and the average freshman retention rate. Because we believe the U.S. News rankings are a gauge of excellence, national universities and liberal arts colleges had to be in the top three quarters of their categories in the 2010 edition of America's Best Colleges. Master's universities and baccalaureate colleges had to be in the top half of the U.S.News & World Report 2010 edition rankings to be eligible for the list. The average freshman retention rate (the percentage of first-year freshmen who returned for their sophomore year) was also calculated for first-year classes entering between 2004 and 2007; schools that made the cut bring an average of at least 75 percent of their freshmen back the next fall. This value can be an important indicator of student satisfaction. In addition to being a top-quality school, colleges had to admit a meaningful proportion of non-A students. That determination was made by using fall 2008 admissions data that were based on the Critical Reading and Math portions of the SAT or Composite ACT scores and high school class standing. Whether the SAT or ACT was used in making these calculations depended on which score was submitted most often at that school for the fall 2008 entering class admissions decisions.

    The rest of the specific screening criteria used to create the final A+ Schools for B Students list of slightly over 300 schools:

    • 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 Colleges 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
    • Searching for a college? Get our complete rankings of America's Best Colleges.