Washington Monthly's 2017 best colleges list has some surprises
The Washington Monthly 2017 Best College Guide is officially live with what they call an "increasingly influential alternative" to other college rankings.
Here's the best of the guide, which includes everything from colleges best for adult learners, to schools with the best bang for their buck.
The Top 20 is made up largely of public schools, including the University of California-San Diego, Texas A&M University and the University of Washington-Seattle.
Schools that historically do well on other rankings don't fare as well on Washington Monthly's list. For example, Columbia, Cal Tech and Washington University sit at the 5th, 12th and 19th spots on the U.S. News and World Reportlist. They scrape by at the 16th, 92nd and 107th places using Washington Monthly's methodology -- which uses measurements of improving social mobility, research production and promotion of public service.
And Berea College, which U.S. News ranks 60th spot on the liberal arts colleges list, comes in first place in this guide.
The guide also highlights some of the best schools for adult learners, using criteria that measures a college's openness to adult students, such as having an ample amount of evening and weekend classes to choose from. Coming in at the top in this category are Golden Gate University, the University of Utah and Concordia University-St. Paul.
The guide also features some of the most innovative institutions for adult learners, including the University of Maryland-University College and Broward College in Florida.
If you're looking to get an affordable education, the "Best Bang for the Buck" section includes regulars like Harvard, but brings in schools like American Intercontinental University-Atlantic, University of Washington-Tacoma and the College of the Ozarks.
Related: Here's the best of the 2018 Princeton Review rankings
Susannah Hutcheson is a 2017 Texas A&M graduate and a USA TODAY College news producer. Follow her on Twitter: @susiebhutch
This story originally appeared on the USA TODAY College blog, a news source produced for college students by student journalists. The blog closed in September of 2017.