Data Collection Begins for 2012 Best Colleges Rankings

The college surveys gather information on factors like enrollment and financial aid.

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U.S. News is hard at work on the next edition of the Best Colleges rankings.

We recently started collecting the statistical data that will be used for the 2012 edition of our college rankings, which will be published later this year. Data collection for the three U.S. News statistical surveys—main, financial aid, and finance—began on March 30.

These surveys gather information on such factors as enrollment, faculty, tuition, room and board, SAT and ACT scores, admissions criteria, graduation and retention rates, college majors, activities, sports, and financial aid. This data is used in the Best Colleges online rankings and print guidebook.

More than 1,800 U.S. colleges, and a few outside of the U.S., received a notification E-mail from U.S. News with details on how to access our password-protected online surveys. Nearly all regionally accredited, four-year bachelor's degree granting U.S. colleges should have received such a notice. If you are from a college that did not receive the data collection survey E-mail, please contact Diane Tolis, U.S. News data collection manager, at

At least one change in the upcoming rankings will impact some schools. In December 2010, the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching updated its Basic Classification of higher education institutions. U.S. News has always used the Carnegie Classifications as the basis for our Best Colleges ranking categories, and we will follow the Basic Classification that existed as of March 2011 for the 2012 rankings. As a result, some colleges have changed U.S. News ranking categories from last year.

If you are from a college and have questions about the U.S. News college rankings, the rankings methodologies, or the changes resulting from the updated Carnegie Basic Classification, contact me at

U.S. News works on the college rankings 12 months a year. We hold and attend meetings throughout the year with higher education experts in order to listen to their suggestions and criticisms, as well as to understand the latest campus trends. These consultations with college presidents, deans, institutional researchers, and high school counselors give us an opportunity to gather feedback on our rankings methodology.

We would like to thank all the colleges that participate in our Best Colleges data collection. We understand that it takes a lot of work to fill out the surveys, and we appreciate the efforts taken to provide us with the most accurate data available.

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