Memorial Church at Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass.
U.S. News & World Report released its annual list of America’s Best Colleges today and the scoop is, well, not exactly surprising.
Like most every year, the Ivies are on the head of the pack, holding all four of the highest spots, closely followed by the four other Ivy League schools, which all place within the top 20.
While there wasn’t an excessive amount of movement on the top, there have been an amazing collection of ties at the list this year. There are two universities within the Number 1. spot, five schools tied for fifth, six colleges in 62nd place, seven vying for 72nd and 10 colleges tied for 101st place, among many, many other ties.
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The collection of ties further calls into question the usefulness of the varsity ranking system, which though it’s U.S. News’ bread and butter, have been questioned previously for using dubious statistics and fueling crazed competition among colleges hungry for prestige.
Nevertheless, listed below are this year’s 10 Best Colleges within the Nation:
1. Harvard University
2. Princeton University
3. Yale University
4. Columbia University
5. California Institute of Technology
5. Massachusetts Institute of Technology
5. Stanford University
5. University of Chicago
5. University of Pennsylvania
10. Duke University
The next five are: Dartmouth College, Northwestern University, Johns Hopkins University, Washington University in St. Louis and Brown University. (See the entire list here.)
This year’s list isn’t much different from the past. Last year, Harvard took the highest honors, followed by Princeton, Yale, Columbia, Stanford and the University of Pennsylvania (in a two-way tie for fifth), the California Institute of Technology and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (tied for seventh) and Dartmouth and Duke (tied for ninth; the University of Chicago also tied for ninth, making it the 11th school at the list).
Sound familiar? It’s going to. Essentially the most major change on the top this year is that the University of Chicago was bumped up from its ninth place finish last year to tie for fifth with four other schools. That move bumped Ivy League school Dartmouth out of the highest 10, to an eleventh place finish.
Excluding the Ivies and other private schools, the top-ranking state schools are as follows: the University of California-Berkley, the University of California-Los Angeles and the University of Virginia (tied for 2nd), the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, the school of William and Mary, the Georgia Institute of Technology, the University of California-San Diego, the University of California-Davis and finally, in a three-way tie for 10th, the University of California-Santa Barbara, the University of Washington and the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Other than the national rankings, U.S. News breaks their data into several other lists that can be especially useful for prime school students and their families on the subject of select a faculty. Among them are a list, you could find over on TIME’s Moneyland site, of the colleges that saddle their students with probably the most (and smallest amount) of loan debt.
Another is named A+ Schools for B Students, which gives an inventory of faculties where students with slightly lower grades still stand an even shot at getting into. That list features states schools just like the University of Connecticut and the University of Oregon, in addition to smaller, private schools equivalent to Baylor University in Waco, Texas and Pepperdine University in Malibu, California. A few of the other lists are Best Black Colleges, which ranks the nation’s historically black colleges and the most productive national liberal arts colleges.
See the whole 2012 Best Colleges rankings here.
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Kayla Webley is a Writer-Reporter at TIME. Find her on Twitter at @kaylawebley or on Facebook at facebook.com/kaylalwebley. You may as well continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.