Top 11 Liberal Arts Colleges Just As Great as the Ivy League

Every prospective college student wants to get the best education with as little debt as possible. The Ivy League route is not the only way to acquire a good education, and it certainly won't leave you debtless. According to the U.S. News & World Report's 2014 rankings, liberal colleges can be just as great as Ivies.

By taking into account the measure for graduation rate performance, it "improves the Best Colleges ranking methodology as it's an important outcome measure that focuses on the difference between each school's predicted graduation rate (as calculated by U.S.)." Essentially, by adding this measure, it considers schools that have soaring graduation rates.

Here are 11 of the best liberal arts colleges in the nation when considering this additional variable.

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1. Williams College

Williams College is a small, Massachusetts liberal arts school that has been nationally ranked as the best undergraduate institution for several years now. It's not exactly cheap to attend, costing the average incoming undergraduate student approximately $46,600 annually, but certainly more cost-effective than most Ivy League Schools. There are numerous of prestigious scholarships and awards granted to students every year. Also, graduates of Williams College are known to obtain high-paying careers.

2. Amherst College

With less than 2,000 students, this small, private college allows undergraduates to work closely with leading faculty members. A great perk offered by Amherst College is the Five College Consortium where students can learn up to 27 different languages and take classes at any of the five participating colleges at no extra cost. An advantage most Ivies can't compete with.

3. Swarthmore College

This liberal arts college, located in Swarthmore, Pennsylvania, is known for its reputable Honors Program. Bringing in over 1,500 students every year with annual tuition costs of nearly $45,000, this private college has bred CEO patent-holders, investment bankers, doctors who serve in Congress and Nobel Prize winners. The college is part of the Tri-College Consortium with Bryn Mawr and Haverford where students can also take courses. Swarthmore offers a B.S. in engineering which makes it unique amongst other liberal arts colleges.

4. Bowdoin College

Bowdoin is located in Brunswick on the Maine coast, and has over 40 majors students can conveniently choose from. An interesting characteristic of this college is that SAT and ACT is optional on the college's application form. This is a great example of assessing students on other variables; rather than heavily relying on standardized test scores. Popular majors include: Anthropology, Biology, Economics, English, History, Political Science.

5. Middlebury College (tied for fourth place)

Middlebury is well-known for its foreign-language programs with flourishing study-abroad programs in countries like China, France, Germany, Italy, Latin America, the Middle East, Russia and Spain. The school's small class sizes allow students to cultivate intellectual and creative qualities more efficiently. The college also offers graduate programs including a Master of Arts degree and Doctor of Modern Languages.

6. Pomona College (tied for fourth place)

Pomona is a West Coast college located in Claremont, California with nearly 1,500 undergraduate students. The private college is part of a consortium of seven independent institutions, Claremont Colleges. Notable graduates of the school are Roy E. Disney, former New York Times Executive Editor Bill Keller, and singer Kris Kristofferson. The school offers a dynamic "Ski-Beach Day" where students ski at a local resort and relax on a beach in Orange County.

7. Carleton College

Nested in Northfield, Minnesota, this private institution is Minnesota's third oldest college. Part of the academic curriculum during senior year, students complete an integrative project consisting of independent research or creative expression. The student-faculty ratio is 9:1 allowing for productive intellectual and creative development.

8. Wellesley College (tied for seventh place)

This private institution is an all women's college and is one of the original Seven Sisters Colleges. The Davis Degree Program allows women older than 24 to attend college. Students can get involved in over 150 student organizations, and can even register for classes at MIT. Graduates include Hillary Rodham Clinton; former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright; and ABC News anchor Diane Sawyer.

9. Claremont McKenna College

Claremont McKenna is committed to Need-Blind Admission policy which states that a family's financial situation will not influence a student’s academic admission. This means that the college is dedicated to meeting all incoming student's financial needs. Highly regarded as an undergraduate college, Claremont McKenna also offers a graduate master's program in finance through the Robert Day School of Economics and Finance.

10. Davidson College (tied for ninth place)

This private college has a unique financial aid history being recognized as the first in the nation to replace loans with grants, making it easier for students to graduate debt-free. Located in North Carolina, 19 miles north of Charlotte, the school offers 200 student organizations and eight national fraternities.

11. Haverford College (tied for ninth place)

Haverford College is home to about 1,200 students with a campus size of 200 acres. Haverford has 21 NCAA Division III sports teams in the Centennial Conference, the oldest college soccer team, and only varsity cricket team in the country. Famous alumni include actor Chevy Chase, journalist Juan Williams and author Frank Conroy.