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NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - A small private Massachusetts college ranked first in a report on the best U.S. colleges in 2010, beating Ivy League contenders such as Harvard and Yale.
Williams College, with about 2,200 students, nudged past Princeton and Amherst, which came in second and third on the list compiled by Forbes.com.
The United States Military Academy at West Point and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology rounded out the top five, while Harvard came in at No. 8 and Yale just slipped into the top 10.
"It's always gratifying to be considered among the top institutions in the county," said William Wagner, the dean of faculty at Williams College.
Forbes and the Center for College Affordability and Productivity (CCAP) in Washington D.C. compiled the list, its third, after considering the cost of tuition, the salaries of graduates and students' experiences.
They also looked at how many faculty and students go on to win Rhodes Scholarships or Nobel Prizes, and used data from websites such as RateMyProfessors.com and MyPlan.com to gauge how satisfied students were with their educational experiences.
"Colleges that don't saddle students with a lot of debt and places with small class sizes, rank higher," said David Ewalt, deputy editor at Forbes. "If you compare this year's top ten to last year's top ten, they're very close." said Ewalt.
The highest ranked public university is the University of Virginia, which was No. 44.
"There is a certain amount of, 'you get what you pay for.' Private schools can push class sizes down. There are some wonderful public universities. But private schools tend to do very well on the list," said Ewalt.
The Forbes/CCAP report only looked at nine percent of the 6,600 accredited institutions in the U.S.
The full list of colleges can be found at www.forbes.com/colleges.