Santa Clara U. Tops Berkeley: Forbes List

For the first time, Santa Clara University is a better place to attend college than UC Berkeley, according to Forbes magazine. Which should know.

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    The University of California at Berkeley is one of the oldest and most respected universities in the UC system. It's also behind Stanford and Santa Clara University on a recent quality list from Forbes.

    Move over, Golden Bears. It's Bronco time.

    Santa Clara University received its highest-ever ranking from Forbes's 2011 list of the best colleges in America, jumping nearly 60 places from the 2010 list to No. 67 -- three spots ahead of the University of California, Berkeley.

    Take that, Berkeley. But also take heart, nonetheless: The UC system's flagship campus is still in the top 10 of public schools nationwide, according to the San Jose Mercury News.

    Santa Clara, the alma mater of former San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom and NBA point guard Steve Nash, has been steadily rising in the rankings for years, according to the newspaper, leapfrogging from a No. 318 ranking in 2008.

    Other Bay Area institutions of higher education fared well: Stanford, for example, is the second-best college in the country and the top university in the West, the newspaper reported. And represented better than anyone else: on the front cover of the Forbes magazine issue announcing the rankings is Stanford student Ernestine Fu, who at 20 years old is "the youngest venture capitalist in the country," the newspaper reported. Must be nice.

    A Washington, DC-based think tank created the rankings based on a variety of criteria. They include post graduate success, student satisfaction, debt loads, rate of student default, and four-year graduation rate. So anyone taking six years to graduate only to say sayonara to the triple-figure debt is not helping the school. Only themselves.

    Saint Mary's ranked 172nd overall, haven for smart slackers UC Santa Cruz is 186nd, and San Jose State is No. 470.