Top colleges and universities accept a select few high school seniors into their ranks. Whether you evaluate them by academic reputation, earning potential of graduates or by the opinions of students, the top colleges and universities are open to an elite few. For those privileged enough to enroll, opportunities abound upon graduation for rewarding and lucrative careers.

Rankings

"U.S. News and World Report" magazine ranks the top universities in the nation based on a combination of factors: surveys of university administrators, freshman retention rates, accessibility of professors, student selectivity, financial aid, graduation rate and alumni donations. "Forbes" magazine ranks the best colleges and universities based on the success and earning potential of graduates in their chosen careers. "The Princeton Review" bases its rankings on student surveys at more than 300 schools. In 2013, the service named the schools where students ranked professors most highly and where students study the most.

"U.S. News and World Report"

Harvard and Princeton universities tied for the top spot in the "U.S. News" national ranking for 2013. Harvard houses the largest private library collection in the world, and its acceptance rate in 2013 was 6.3 percent. Eight U.S. presidents have graduated from Harvard. At Princeton, all of the undergraduates must write a senior thesis to graduate, and the school combines the resources of a major research university with the access to instructors and charms of a liberal arts college. Princeton’s acceptance rate for freshmen was 8.5 percent in 2013.

"Forbes"

The top school in 2013, according to "Forbes," was Stanford University. Its graduates are responsible for building Silicon Valley in northwest California, but the university has a reputation for excellence in the humanities and social sciences as well as in computer science. A new business campus was paid for through a $6.2 billion fundraising campaign. Second place went to Pomona College, a liberal arts school in California that had 1,500 undergraduates in 2013. The student-to-faculty ratio at Pomona is eight to one, and 95 percent of its undergraduates finish with their degrees. The college took a big step up in the "Forbes" rankings from No. 9 in 2012 to No. 2 in 2013.

"The Princeton Review"

Marlboro College in Marlboro, Vermont, might not be as well known as Harvard or Stanford is, but it has the highest-ranked faculty based on student surveys. Professors help students guide their own course of study, which ends in a Plan of Concentration, a major body of work that they present upon graduation. The student-to-faculty ratio is six to one. The California Institute of Technology is where students study the most, according to "Princeton Review" surveys. One of the top science schools in the nation, CalTech has a student-to-faculty ratio of three to one. Tuition for 2013 was $39,990, but 60 percent of students received financial aid.