Starting your search for the perfect college

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It's almost the end of the school year, and summer is peeking around the corner. For rising sophomores and juniors, this is the perfect time to start looking at colleges. But for many, the thought of starting their college search fills their stomachs with dread as there are just so many college guidebooks and Best of Somethings lists available (our personal favorite is the 30 Best College Pools). Where to start?

If you plan on studying education and teaching in a middle or high school, you're in luck! We wrote up our very own Best of Somethings list, except ours stems from NCTQ's latest report on teacher prep programs and not from an arbitrary list of the best food halls (although one college appears on both our list and Princeton's list of Best Campus Food).

NCTQ examined key aspects of a teacher prep program to determine its rigor and how well it prepares future teachers (i.e., you) for success in the classroom. The top programs have strong admission standards, require sufficient coursework in order to ground future teachers in their content and teaching methods, and provide a strong student teaching experience.

Some of these colleges may not ring a bell, but their education programs stand out in the crowd:

1. Arizona State University (Phoenix, AZ)

2. Clemson University (Clemson, SC)

3. Coe College (Cedar Rapids, IA)

4. Colorado Christian University (Lakewood, CO)

5. CUNY - Hunter College (New York, NY)

6. Gordon College (Wenham, MA)

7. Hope College (Holland, MI)

8. Lipscomb University (Nashville, TN)

9. Messiah College (Grantham, PA)

10. Ohio Wesleyan University (Delaware, OH)

11. St. Olaf College (Northfield, MN)

12. University of Iowa (Iowa City, IA)

13. University of Minnesota - Duluth (Duluth, MN)

14. University of Southern Mississippi (Hattiesburg, MS)

15. University of Utah (Salt Lake City, UT)

16. University of Wisconsin - Platteville (Platteville, WI)

While NCTQ doesn't incorporate tuition cost into program rankings, Path to Teach includes tuition and financial information on the universities' pages. We hope this Best of Secondary Teacher Prep Programs list helps you on your college search!

-- Lisa Swanson