Perhaps. Then again, "best," let alone "value," is in the eye -- and wallet -- of the beholder!

Yes, it's time to take that large grain of salt again, as those lists of "bests" are being compiled and disseminated.

Starting the year off is Kiplinger Magazine (because, we suppose, publishing lists sells magazines) with its Best Values in Public Colleges.

Dare we ask the question, Best for whom? Best programs? Best courses? Best endowments? Best in research? Best dining options? Best underground bowling alley or on-campus climbing wall?

If you're talking about bang for your buck, indeed, many public universities and colleges offer just that, particularly for in-state students. And why anyone attending a public university would attend another state's public college strains the imagination (but for best programs, best courses, best endowment, best research, best dining options, and, of course, the best Division I football, basketball and/or Lacrosse program), there are bargains to be had across the board.

Then, too -- and college net cost calculators aside -- with the right mix of scholarships, grants and merit and/or need-based aid being offered, private colleges could well boast best value, even over the publics, which are often constrained to give far fewer bucks in financial aid.

For those who like rankings, placing those artificial accolades right up there alongside George Washington's chopping down of the cherry tree and the manned moon landing being staged in a Hollywood back lot, there's a master list of sorts to be found at

There you will find not only the traditional rankings (Public, Private, NCAA, ACT/SAT, Faculty Salary, Student Debt, etc.), but the lesser known, and not as readily quantified rankings, such as Most Popular Schools By Program, Highest Safety Ratings, and the all inclusive, hold back absolutely nothing at all, "Top 2000 Ranked Colleges" (just so almost no college will feel left out). [FYI, in 2011, MIT was ranked number 1, while the dubious distinction of being number 2000 belonged to Ohio Techincal College. Get those applications in before the lake effect snows close Cleveland down for the duration! :-)]

Anyway, best value -- like best college, best pizza, best dressed, best actor, best man, best in show -- means different things to different people, and, like our colleague Lynn O'Shaughnessy opines in her recent blogpost, 100 best value state universities: Really?, a purported bargain isn't always a value (as in buy cheap, get cheap; pay a bundle, get ripped off), and best for Kiplinger, U.S. News, or anybody else, for that matter, may very well not be best for you.

All of this having now been said, feel free to check out Kiplinger's list of Best Values In Public Colleges, thereafter creating "Best" lists of your own.

It's all quite subjective, if but a bit snobbish. And yet, we all read 'em, talk about 'em, and, in ways both bizarre and bemusing, emulate those who end up in attendance at the college that tops one "Best" list or another.

Just remember, "Best" is what's best for YOU! And that's all The College Whisperer (the BEST darn college planner on the planet, I might add :-) is going to say about it!
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The road to college -- and finding the means to pay the tolls along the way -- begins at College Connection. Visit College Connection on the web at Speak with a College Connection counselor at 516-345-8766. Check out The College Whisperer at