The Best Public Colleges In America Show That You Don't Have To Go A Private School To Get A Great Education

As much as some educators love to make it sound like public education is a one-way ticket to No Jobsville, public schools can be just as good as their privately-funded counterparts — and frequently, they're a fraction of the cost. If you don't believe me, believe Business Insider's list of the best public colleges in America, whose average SAT scores are higher than I remember even being an option when I was in high school.

(In other news, that sentence makes me feel so old. Next thing you know, I'll be lurking in the Jezebel comments section, complaining that back in my day we had to walk uphill both ways to even take the SAT. But I digress.)

Business Insider compiled a list of the top 20 public universities in the nation using a combination of SAT scores, median starting salaries for graduates, and readers' opinions of which colleges prepare their students best for graduation. The universities that made the list are truly impressive, lending support to the research showing it really doesn't matter whether you go to public or private school. Whether they're world-renowned research institutions like Georgia Tech (shout out to my home state!) or an entryway into a hugely extensive network of alumni like Pennsylvania State University, these colleges are some of the best institutions in the United States. Let's take a look at the top 10.

10. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Located in Urbana, IL, this university has one of the largest public university libraries in the world.

Average SAT score: 2030

Median starting salary: $55,000

9. University of Texas at Austin

UT Austin counts Wes Anderson and Matthew McConaughey as alumni, which is all the justification I would need for attending this university.

Average SAT score: 1900

Median starting salary: $52,200

8. University of California Los Angeles

Despite its famous film school, UCLA is a well-regarded research institution as well.

Average SAT score: 1975

Median starting salary: $50,300

7. United States Military Academy

The Military Academy at West Point is extremely selective, and as you're about to see, the graduates do pretty well for themselves once they graduate.

Average SAT score: 1880

Median starting salary: $75,100

6. University of Virginia

The university has millions of dollars in research grants, and it frequently appears at the top of national university rankings.

Average SAT score: 2025

Median starting salary: $54,100

5. United States Naval Academy

Sorry, West Point. The Naval Academy churns out notable alumni faster than the world can keep up with, which is why half of them turn out to be astronauts.

Average SAT score: 1913

Median starting salary: $80,700

4. Georgia Institute of Technology

Georgia Tech is the technological hub of the South, and it's considered one of the smartest public schools in America.

Average SAT score: 2080

Median starting salary: $61,700

3. University of Michigan at Ann Arbor

The University of Michigan at Ann Arbor is second only to Harvard in the number of students receiving Fulbright grants.

Average SAT score: 2065

Median starting salary: $56,800

2. University of California at Berkeley

Despite its size, Business Insider points out that the majority of classes at UC Berkeley have fewer than 30 students.

Average SAT score: 2035

Median starting salary: $59,500

1. Cornell University

Despite what you'd think, Cornell is both a private and public institution. Each school operates independently, some of which receive funding from the state of New York. With plenty of majors to choose from and a solid network of alumni after graduation, Cornell tops the list of public universities.

Average SAT score: 2035

Median starting salary: $59,500

Check out the full list at Business Insider.

Images: Upsilon Andromedae (2)/Barbara Eckstein/DVIDSHB/West Point- The US Military Academy/Dave Wilson/Flickr