The magazine, critical of other college rankings, has published its own book-length college guide.

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Corrected version

Washington Monthly, a liberal-leaning policy magazine based in Washington, D.C., has long been a critic of U.S. News & World Report’s take on the top colleges in the nation and has periodically published its own list of best colleges. Now, the magazine decided to do its own book-length college guide, too, and it’s one that Huskies will be especially pleased to read because it ranks the University of Washington as No. 1 in the West.

“The Other College Guide: A Road Map to the Right School for You” ($17.95, The New Press) is packed with charts and advice. It makes the case for how traditional rankings have accelerated the rise in college costs, why popular rankings don’t tell students what they need to know, and why schools often encourage students to apply even when they don’t have a chance of getting in.

Written in a jaunty, accessible style, this book says it is is aimed at all students, not just those “from well-to-do families trying to get into the most exclusive, priciest schools.” It also tries to guide students through a system it describes as “confusing, complicated, full of trap doors, and often unfair.” Indeed, only a quarter of the 408-page book is devoted to rankings tables and reviews of specific schools; the rest is guidance and advice on picking the right college and paying for it.

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In its lengthiest evaluation of schools, called “Best Bang for the Buck,” UW Seattle ranks as the No. 1 school in the West. (It’s followed by Brigham Young University, the University of California-Irvine and UC-Davis. )

UW Seattle does so well because it has a low student loan default rate (2.2 percent), a high graduation rate (80 percent) and, because of generous financial aid offerings, a low net price for students whose families have low to middle incomes. It also scores well for giving academic help to students from lower-income families, making it more likely they will graduate.

On the “best bang” list, the UW Bothell ranks 13th, UW Tacoma 22nd, The Evergreen State College 29th and Western Washington University 30th in the West. Other Washington schools in the top 100: Eastern Washington University (37), Central Washington University (44), Trinity Lutheran College (47), Whitworth University (52), Seattle Pacific University (53), Washington State University (68), Gonzaga University (76), Seattle University (79) and the University of Puget Sound (81).

Washington Monthly offers several other lists, too:

The affordable elite list: This national ranking of some of the country’s more selective colleges is topped by the University of California, Los Angeles. It  features three private Washington schools: Gonzaga University (159), Whitman College (162) and University of Puget Sound (166).

The best community college list: Five Washington schools made the guide’s list of 50 best community colleges in the country: Grays Harbor College (15), Cascadia Community College in Bothell (22), Green River Community College in Auburn (44), Tacoma Community College (46) and Highline Community College (47).

The chapter on community colleges alone is worth a read: It lays out some of the pitfalls of starting a four-year degree at a community college, and warns about the importance of doing well on placement tests and making sure the courses you take at a two-year school will count toward your major in a four-year school.

Information in this article, originally published March 4, 2014, was corrected March 5, 2015. A previous version of this story left out Eastern Washington University, which ranks 37th.

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