Princeton edged Williams College out of first place into the No. 2 spot on this year’s rankings, which focus on student outcomes, including career prospects, graduation rates and low levels of debt. Stanford University moved up to No. 3 from fifth place last year, followed by the University of Chicago at No. 4 and Yale University at No. 5.

“It’s easy to spend more than a quarter of a million dollars for an undergraduate degree, and a lot of people are beginning to ask: Is it worth it?” says Forbes Executive Editor Michael Noer. “The answer obviously varies, but it is still an unqualified ‘yes’ for those schools ranking at the top of our list.”

In partnership with LinkedIn, Forbes also names the Top 20 Most Entrepreneurial Colleges – with Stanford University at No. 1. Mining its database of 20 million college grads, LinkedIn identified alumni of these twenty schools as founders of the most companies with 10-plus employees. One of the standout colleges for aspiring entrepreneurs is Babson College (No. 12), featured in “Babson Means Business,” (p.70). Forbesprofiles nine all-star student entrepreneurs (p. 82) who launched their businesses while in college.

Instagram CEO and co-founder Kevin Systrom, a Stanford grad, is profiled in the cover story, “How Stanford Made Instagram an Instant Success” (p. 56). Plus, meet Stanford Professor David Cheriton – likely the wealthiest full-time academic in the world, with a net worth of $1.3 billion (“Professor Billionaire,” p. 64). Stanford’s brainiest students seek him out for start-up advice and money – two of whom happened to be named Larry and Sergey.

Forbes’ 2012 college coverage includes the beta launch of the Forbes Top Colleges SmartSearch online tool to help parents find the best colleges at the best price, and enables them to make paying for college more affordable. The tool can be accessed at: Forbes will also release a forthcoming e-book, College Planning for Busy Parents: A Guide to Affordable Colleges, Financial Aid, Scholarships, and Tax-Saving Strategies.

The top 50 colleges appear in the August 20, 2012 issue of Forbes in “Top of the Class: America’s Best Colleges” (p. 75). includes a complete ranking of 650 colleges and a related online video interview of Princeton’s President Shirley M. Tighman by ForbesWoman President and Publisher Moira Forbes.

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