Watch CBSN Live

Best Colleges in the Land, in More Ways than One

College has never been more expensive, so it's never been more important to do what you can to make sure you get as much bang for your multiple bucks as possible.

That begins with knowing which schools offer the most and best of what you're looking for - and that goes for much more than just the quality of their education.

Four years at a public university carry an average price tag of $68,000. For four years at a private college, the bottom line averages $142,000. College costs have risen six-to-seven percent every year for the past 20 years; that's two-to-three times the rate of inflation, far out-pacing any gains in family income. It's normal for the cost of college to top $200,000!

On "The Early Show," Rob Franek, who headed the compilation and writing of The Princeton Review's "Best 373 Colleges: 2011 Edition," ran down the results of the Review's survey of some 122,000 students about their schools.

The Review defines "average cost" as tuition, fees, and room & board for one year, times four years.

Incidentally, The Princeton Review is a Massachusetts-based company specializing in test preparation courses, educational services and books. It isn't affiliated with Princeton University

Franek discussed these categories on the show: Great Financial Aid, Best Career Services, Most Beautiful Campus, Top Party Schools, Top "Stone-cold Sober" Schools and Best Campus Food.

He says students have been very clear this year about how important the value of an exceptional Career Services Office is to them, both for internships while undergrads and exceptional first jobs when they graduate. And there's been a surge of current college students reporting back their experiences around environmental sustainability efforts (both from a curriculum perspective and campus practices).


Excerpted from "The Best 373 Colleges, 2011 Edition" by Robert Franek et al. Copyright © 2010 by The Princeton Review, Inc. Published by Random House, Inc.

Great Financial Aid

Based on students' ratings of their financial aid awards
1. Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering (Needham MA)
2. Univ. of Virginia - Charlottesville
3. Princeton Univ. (Princeton NJ)
4. Harvard College (Cambridge MA)
5. Stanford Univ. (Palo Alto CA)
6. Yale Univ. (New Haven CT)
7. New College of Florida
8. Washington Univ. (St. Louis MO)
9. Pomona College (Claremont CA)
10. Rice Univ. (Houston TX)

Best Career Services
Based on students' ratings of their career/job services center
1. Northeastern Univ. (Boston)
2. Pennsylvania State Univ. (State College PA)
3. Yale Univ (New Haven CT)
4. Univ. of Florida (Gainesville)
5. Barnard College (New York NY)
6. Bentley Univ. (Waltham MA)
7. Claremont McKenna College (Claremont CA)
8. Sweet Briar College (Sweet Briar, VA)
9. Rose-Hulman Inst. of Technology (Terre Haute IN)
10. Univ. of Texas at Austin

Most Beautiful Campus
Based on students' ratings of the beauty of their campus
1. Sewanee-The Univ. of the South (Sewanee TN)
2. Lewis & Clark College (Portland OR)
3. Colgate Univ. (Hamilton NY)
4. Univ. of San Diego (CA)
5. College of the Holy Cross (Worcester MA)
6. Sweet Briar College (Sweet Briar VA)
7. Mount Holyoke College (South Hadley MA)
8. Princeton Univ. (Princeton NJ)
9. Florida Southern College (Lakeland FL)
10. Vassar College (Poughkeepsie NY)

Top Party Schools
Based on students answers to survey questions concerning the use of alcohol and drugs, hours of study each day, and popularity of frats/sororities on campus.
1. Univ. of Georgia (Athens)
2. Ohio University (Athens)
3. Pennsylvania State Univ. (State College PA)
4. West Virginia Univ. (Morgantown)
5. Univ. of Mississippi
6. Univ. of Texas (Austin)
7. Univ. of Florida (Gainesville)
8. Univ. of California at Santa Barbara
9. Univ. of Iowa
10. DePauw Univ. (Greencastle IN)

Top Stone-cold Sober Schools
Based on students answers to survey questions concerning the use of alcohol and drugs, hours of study each day, and popularity of frats/sororities on campus.
1. Brigham Young University (Provo UT)
2. Wheaton College (IL)
3. U.S. Coast Guard Academy (New London CT)
4. U.S. Air Force Academy (Colorado Springs CO)
5. Wesleyan College (Macon GA)
6. College of the Ozarks (Point Lookout MO)
7. U.S. Naval Academy (Annapolis MO)
8. U.S. Military Academy (West Point NY)
9. Calvin College (Grand Rapids MI)
10. Thomas Aquinas College (Santa Paula CA)

Best Campus Food:
Based on students' ratings of campus food
1 Bowdoin College (Brunswick, ME)
2 Virginia Tech (Blacksburg, VA)
3 James Madison Univ. (Harrisonburg VA)
4 Wheaton College (Wheaton, IL)
5 Cornell University ( Ithaca, NY )
6 St. Olaf College (Northfield, MN)
7 Univ. of Georgia (Athens, GA)
8 Bryn Mawr College (Bryn Mawr, PA)
9 Univ. of Notre Dame (South Bend, IN)
10 Washington University in St. Louis (St. Louis, MO)