Perhaps a playoff is in order. For the second straight year, Harvard and Princeton share the top spot in the controversial U.S. News & World Report rankings of "America's Best Colleges."
Princeton has earned at least a tie for No. 1 in the past five consecutive years, which saw few changes among the highest-rated schools. The latest survey, which hits newsstands Monday, again has Yale at No. 3, followed by the University of Pennsylvania.
The University of California-Berkeley, at No. 21, was the top-rated public university. It was followed at 22 by the Universities of Virginia and Michigan-Ann Arbor in a year that saw public universities generally hold their own despite state budget cuts.
FOR THE RECORD - An article about college rankings in yesterday's editions of The Sun incorrectly identified Johns Hopkins University spokesman Dennis O'Shea.
The Sun regrets the error.
Williams College was the top-ranked liberal arts college. Cal Tech was considered the best value among national universities based on ranking and price, including financial aid.
Nationally, the University of Maryland, College Park fell one spot among public schools while the Johns Hopkins University remained steady at number 14 among universities.
Officials in College Park shrugged off their fall to the nation's 18th-best public school, saying it was most likely a sign of the school's financial situation and not its academics. The rankings take each institution's financial resources into account, and the University of Maryland's budget shrank by nearly $81 million this year because of the state's budget difficulties.
Hopkins officials also shrugged off the rankings. "We're glad to be thought of as one of the best schools in the nation, but no ranking can tell any student where they should go to college," said spokesman Dennis O'Brien.
Hopkins is one notch below Brown University and tied with Cornell University and the University of Chicago.
Two of Maryland's smaller schools, Hood College and the College of Notre Dame of Maryland, were recognized as some of the "best deals" among northern liberal arts schools. Hopkins was also ranked as one of the best deals among national schools.
Villa Julie College was ranked among the top 20 bachelor's degree programs in the northern region.
The rankings are generated by a formula that includes variables such as graduation and retention rates, faculty and financial resources, and the percentage of alumni who donate money to their alma mater.
The Associated Press contributed to this article.