General information on ranking

Name of the ranking (in English) Best 388 Colleges
Name of the ranking (in original) Best 388 Colleges
Scope of the ranking general ranking
Name of person in charge of ranking Rob Franek
Website of the ranking
First year of publication 1992
Most recent year of publication 2023
Date of last update 2023-05-08
Publication frequency annual
Ranking organization The Princeton Review
Methodology website

The Best Colleges generally includes unique ranking lists – 50 in the 2023 Edition – that highlight specific ways in which schools stand out. The annual college rankings lists are entirely based on what students tell about their colleges and their experiences at them via the student survey. The Princeton Review does not rank the schools in the book overall, 1 to 388, hierarchically or in a single list category. The Princeton Review reports the top 25 schools (of the 388 in the book) for each of its 50 different ranking list categories—but does not report ranks beyond the top 25 in any category (i.e., schools ranked 26 to 388).

The student survey has 85 questions in four sections. The students are asked about: 1) their school’s academics/ administration, 2) life at their college, 3) their fellow students, and 4) themselves. Students answer by selecting one of five answer choices that range across a grid or scale. The answer choice headers might range from “Strongly Agree” to “Strongly Disagree” or “Excellent” to “Poor”, some are percentages with ranges from “0–20%” to “81–100%.”

Each college is given a score for its students’ answers to each survey question. Similar to a GPA, it is a metric that provides the Ranking with a numerical base to compare student opinions from college to college. Using these scores (which are computed out to several percentage points), it is possible to tally the ranked lists. Schools that make it onto any of our 50 top 25 lists are those at which the surveyed students (as a group) indicated a very high consensus of opinion about that topic.

Most of the ranking lists are based on students’ answers to one survey question, such as “How do you rate your campus food?” Some, such as our “Best Classroom Experience” list, are based on students’ answers to more than one question. The Princeton Review's 50 college ranking lists cover eight general areas: Academics/Administration, Quality of Life, Politics, Campus Life, Town Life, Extracurriculars, and Social Scene. For more details on a breakdown on each of those eight general areas, the titles of the ranking lists which are reported in each area, and information about each ranking list basis, see:


The name of the ranking differs between the years, depending on the number of colleges and universities considered – in 2022 it was Best 387 Colleges, in 2021 it was Best 386 Colleges and in 2014 – Best 379 Colleges.

Additional information

  • Main target groups: students and parents, higher education institutions
  • Level of comparison: institutional: 388; ranking list categories: 50
  • Major dimensions covered: student satisfaction, teaching, campus life
  • Login to read more