Arriving at a definitive ranking of schools is a complex process, and often one that stirs fierce debate. School pride runs deep with alums, particularly those who graduated from Big-10 universities. No one wants to see his or her beloved alma mater dropped even a notch in the all-important competition to be number one. We see this in the public sphere as athletic teams go head to head and as university departments vie for research dollars.
The bumps and bruises threatened on these fields of battle pale in comparison to the emotional wounding attempted on those who contributed to researching this list. Rest assured, though the pressure may have been intense at times, this list reflects the reality of what students are experiencing at these schools as closely as possible, and not the effectiveness of advocates outside this process.
What is the very best school to attend? The decision can change the course of a life and should not be made lightly. To arrive at this list, careful consideration was given to students’ academic experience, quality of life, success of alumnae, and many other factors. We believe what follows is an accurate grading of the top five Big-10 schools.
1. Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI
Michigan State University tops our list due to an outstanding combination of academic rigor and quality of life. With 150 undergraduate majors and 14 colleges granting degrees, Michigan State sets the high-water mark for the Big-10. Michigan State professors are often praised for working closely with students. The school’s career placement office is among the best and most effective in schools in and out of the Big-10.
2. Northwestern University, Evanston, IL
Just 30 minutes outside of Chicago, Northwestern University earns a secure second place on our top five Big-10 list. Northwestern offers strong academics with a wide range of majors available to undergraduates. Proximity to Chicago is a significant plus for Northwestern students, allowing them not only cultural enrichment (a.k.a. nightlife), but opportunities for internships and study, which Northwestern’s curriculum often takes great care to integrate.
3. Penn State University, State College, PA
A late addition to the Big-10—the school joined in 1990—Penn State University has consistently impressed with its academic seriousness and high quality of life for students, earning the school the third slot on this list. Penn State is a multi-campus behemoth, offering a wide variety of experiences to students. Enrolling more than 81,000 students at 24 campuses, it is at the University Park campus in State College that Penn State demonstrates the highest degree of excellence.
4. Ohio State University, Columbus, OH
Fourth on the list is Ohio State University (OSU). OSU offers high-caliber academics for undergrads and graduates. New students encounter a carefully tailored program for freshmen, shaping new Buckeyes from some of the best students in and around Ohio and the rest of the nation.
5. University of Illinois, Champaign, IL
Rounding out the list at number five is the University of Illinois in Champaign. The second Illinois campus in the top five, the University of Illinois earns its slot with a stellar mix of academics, social life, and athletic programs. 1100 organizations and clubs battle for student participation on the giant campus, with research a major focus of academic life. University of Illinois, an exemplary Midwestern campus, helps maintain the high quality reputation of all the Big-10 schools.
Related colleges and universities:
- Cornell University (ranked #12 in U.S.)
- Northeastern University (ranked #96 in U.S.)
- Boston University (ranked #57 in U.S.)
- Worcester Polytechnic Institute (ranked #62 in U.S.)
- University of Florida (ranked #49 in U.S.)
- Tulane University (ranked #50 in U.S.)
- University of Maryland, College Park (ranked #54 in U.S.)
About the Author: Take a look at more industry related articles by Chris Stout at careersandeducation.com. Chris Stout is a frequent contributor with articles pertaining to using Distance Learning and Career Advice.
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