AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. -

The United States Air Force Academy has been ranked the 4th best college in the west and the 34th best in the nation by Forbes.

Forbes' best colleges in the west list, starts with three California colleges: Stanford, Pomona and the California Institute of Technology, followed by the Air Force Academy as the #4 best college in the west. 

In Forbes top schools for the nation, the Air Force Academy came in at #34, followed closely by Colorado College in the #51 spot.

The Forbes list ranks 650 colleges and universities, starting with Williams College in Massachusetts at the top spot, followed by Stanford, Swarthmore College, Princeton and MIT.

The Forbes list focuses on output, versus input, looking at what students get out of their college experience, versus how tough the schools are to get into.  Forbes uses several weighted factors to calculate its rankings, which are:

  • Post-Graduate Success, as determined by combining alumni salaries from payscale.com and the American Leaders List. The Post-Graduate Success category has a weighted value of 32.5 percent.
  • Student Satisfaction, determined by combining student evaluations from ratemyprofessor.com, actual freshman-to-sophomore retention rate, and a comparison of predicted versus actual freshman-to-sophomore retention. The Student Satisfaction category has a weighted value of 25 percent.
  • Student Debt, as determined by combining average federal student loan debt load, student loan default rates, and predicted versus actual average federal student loan debt load.  The Student Debt category has a weighted value of 25 percent.
  • Academic Success, determined by alumni receiving doctorates and students receiving nationally competitive awards. The Academic Success category has a weighted value of 10 percent.
  • Four-year graduation rate, including actual and predicted versus actual four-year graduation rate.  The Four-year Graduation Rate category has a weighted value of 7.5 percent.

The Air Force Academy's fall semester starts August 13.