50 Colleges That Will Change Your Life
The right college can be life-changing. The wrong one? Well, you’ll still graduate. But it’s not worth taking a chance on your future if you don’t have to—especially when we’ve found 50 outstanding schools that will change your life in ways you never imagined. So go ahead and start browsing this list of the top colleges in America for 2020, ranked by Niche based on student satisfaction, quality of life, affordability, and more.
Grinnell is a private liberal arts college in Grinnell, Iowa. It was founded in 1846 by Congregationalist pioneers who recognized the need for higher education in the young American republic. The college was named for the New England clergyman Jesse Buel Grinnell, who provided a grant to start the school and served as its second president. In 2015–2016, Grinnell had an acceptance rate of 35%.
Grinnell has been ranked among both the best liberal arts colleges and best value liberal arts colleges in America.
University of Chicago
The University of Chicago is a private research university in Chicago, Illinois. It is one of the world’s leading research institutions, offering a wide variety of academic programs and research opportunities across a broad curriculum in the arts and sciences, humanities, social sciences, natural sciences and engineering. The University’s faculty includes scholars such as economists Milton Friedman and Gary Becker; physicists Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar (who won the Nobel Prize for Physics), Enrico Fermi (who won the Nobel Prize for Physics) and James Van Allen; philosophers Richard Rorty and Martha Nussbaum; sociologists W.I. Thomas & Florian Znaniecki; anthropologist Robert Redfield; linguists Roman Jakobson & Noam Chomsky; political scientists Robert Axelrod & Mancur Olson Jr.; historians Allan Lichtman & Daniel Boorstin — all considered leaders in their respective fields.
Reed College is a private liberal arts college in Portland, Oregon. It offers Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science degrees. The student-to-faculty ratio at Reed is 7:1 with an average class size of 18 students.
For the Class of 2019, 91% ranked in the top 10% of their high school classes, according to U.S. News & World Report (USNWR). Ninety percent were accepted into their first choice college; more than 60% were accepted at two or more colleges they applied to.
To get into Reed College, you’ll need strong grades as well as test scores that show your readiness for rigorous academics and advanced coursework.
Sarah Lawrence College
Sarah Lawrence College is a liberal arts college in the United States. It is located in the town of Bronxville, New York, approximately 25 miles north of Manhattan. It is known for its low student-to-faculty ratio and highly individualized course of study.
Sarah Lawrence was founded in 1926 as a women’s college by Alfred H. Smith and William Van Duzer Lawrence (after whom it was named). The school was originally located on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, but it soon moved to its current location in Westchester County, which it has occupied since 1928; this campus has been expanded several times since then to accommodate its growing enrollment.
This small, liberal arts college in Connecticut has a 0.5% acceptance rate and offers a variety of majors including Biology, Economics and Psychology. With just 2,000 students total, this beautiful campus in Middletown is a great place to get involved on your own terms.
There are many different clubs and organizations at Wesleyan University; there are over 400 student organizations in total! You can join the Women’s Rugby Club or go hiking with the Outdoor Adventure Club or become an officer on one of the many committees within student government. There are also plenty of ways to get involved outside of clubs as well – athletics are big here (the school mascot is called Bucky!) so if you’re into sports there’s an organization for you too!
The food at Wesleyan University is incredible – from Asian fusion cuisine at Chen Gourmet Chinese Restaurant & Bar to classic American fare at The Hot Bagel Bakery Cafe & Deli to brunch favorites like french toast sticks served alongside egg whites with fresh fruit salad for $9 dollars per person…you’ll find something delicious no matter what time day or night it is here!
Pitzer College is a small liberal arts college in Claremont, California. It’s a member of the Claremont Colleges consortium and has a student to faculty ratio of 8:1. The college also has an acceptance rate of 63%, which makes it more selective than most schools on this list.
Pitzer’s students can choose from over 30 majors and minors including philosophy, sociology, anthropology and earth science; however the school offers no graduate programs.
Macalester College is a small liberal arts college in Saint Paul, Minnesota. The college has a strong commitment to international education, community service and the arts.
It’s known for its academic rigor and commitment to the liberal arts that prepares students for successful careers after graduation.
The school offers more than 50 majors and minors with about 80% of students opting for a major outside their area of study (there are more than 100 options). Macalester also offers several dual-degree programs that allow you to earn two degrees in five years instead of six years by taking courses from various departments across campus rather than just one department.
Kenyon College is a private liberal arts college in Gambier, Ohio. The school is known for its strong academic reputation and liberal arts curriculum. Kenyon was founded in 1824 by Philander Chase, who traveled the country to find a place where he could create an institution that combined intellectual inquiry with moral purpose.
The college opened its doors two years later as Ashland Academy and became known as Kenyon College in 1837. Today, it has about 1,700 students from all 50 states and 40 countries around the world on its quiet campus overlooking scenic Lake Erie.
Kenyon offers more than 30 majors within its five academic divisions: humanities; social sciences; natural sciences & mathematics; creative writing & English; and earth sciences & engineering
Swarthmore College is a private liberal arts college in Swarthmore, Pennsylvania. It was founded in 1864 as part of the Quaker movement.
Swarthmore is one of the oldest colleges in the United States, founded in 1864. It’s also one of the smallest, with just under 1,600 undergraduates and 1,000 graduate students enrolled each year. The student-to-faculty ratio is 10:1.
Hamilton College is a private liberal arts college located in Clinton, New York, United States. Founded as a boys’ school in 1793 by prominent Federalist John McLean, it was chartered as Hamilton College in 1812. The college offers 33 majors and 60 minors across its three schools: the College of Arts and Sciences; the School of Management; and the School of Language and Literature (which includes the department of Middle Eastern Studies). Hamilton has been coeducational since 1978. It enrolls approximately 2,100 students from 50 U.S. states and 48 countries.
Hamilton College is a member of the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC). The school has 19 varsity teams that compete at NCAA Division III level:
Baseball, Basketball (men’s & women’s), Cross Country (men’s & women’s), Fencing (co-ed), Football (men’s), Golf (women’s), Gymnastics(co-ed), Ice Hockey(men’s), Lacrosse(men’s & women’s) Soccer(men’s & women’s) Softball(women’s) Swimming/Diving(co-ed) Tennis(co-ed) Track/Cross Country Running/Indoor Track Field Hockey Volleyball Water Polo Wrestling
If you’re looking for a small liberal arts college with a strong academic tradition, consider Carleton College.
Founded in 1866, Carleton is a member of the Annapolis Group, a group of liberal arts colleges committed to high academic standards and rigorous teaching. It also has an athletic tradition that includes NCAA Division III teams in football, basketball and track & field—and even a swim team (although they don’t compete against many other schools). As its motto suggests: “Learning by doing is learning twice.”
Harvard College is a private Ivy League research university in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Established in 1636, Harvard is the oldest institution of higher learning in the United States and the first to be named after an individual. It has been called “the nation’s unofficial think tank” because of its central role in American public discourse and higher education.
Harvard is a large, highly residential research university with over 6,000 faculty members and more than 12,000 graduate students. Its academic focus places it among the top tier of world universities (it was ranked first overall by U.S. News & World Report).
Wellesley College is a private women’s liberal arts college located in Wellesley, Massachusetts, United States, north of Boston. The school is known for its rigorous academic programs.
In addition to its academic rigor, Wellesley boasts an impressive list of notable alumni. Some notable former students include Hillary Clinton (class of 1969), author Jhumpa Lahiri (class of 1993), and actress Amy Poehler (class of 1990).
Stanford University is a private research university located in Palo Alto, California. It was established in 1885 by Leland and Jane Stanford as the Leland Stanford Junior University, and it opened its doors to students one year later. The university bears their names today both as a tribute to them and as a reminder of the entrepreneurial spirit that helped make it what it is today.
The school enrolls some 7,000 undergraduates each year—about 1/5th of whom are international students—and employs 2,200 full-time faculty members across seven schools: Biological Sciences; Business; Earth Sciences; Engineering; Humanities & Sciences; Medicine (Stanford Medical School); Social Science (Stanford Law School).
Stanford has been recognized for its leadership in research with over $2 billion per year in sponsored funding from federal agencies alone (making its endowment worth roughly $22 billion), placing it among the top 30 universities worldwide for total sponsored research expenditures according to Nature Index 2016 data. In addition to academic excellence across all fields of study at both undergraduate and graduate levels ,the university offers more than 300 degree programs across 8 academic divisions including business entrepreneurship management information systems law medicine public policy science engineering social sciences computer science
Middlebury College is a private liberal arts college located in Middlebury, Vermont. It was founded in 1800 by Congregationalists, making it the first institution of higher education to be named after William Bradford (the first governor of the Plymouth Colony). Today, Middlebury College is one of the most selective colleges in the United States; only 15% of applicants are accepted each year—a number that includes international students.
The college prides itself on its rigorous academic programs and offers more than 40 undergraduate majors and over 50 minors as well as graduate degrees from five schools: The School of Arts & Sciences; The School for International Training; The Bread Loaf School of English; The Jackson Institute for Global Affairs and Center for Environmental Studies.
If you’re looking for a small liberal arts college, Bowdoin College should be on your list. With just over 1,800 students and 100 professors, Bowdoin provides an intimate learning environment where your voice can be heard. While Bowdoin doesn’t have the name recognition of some other colleges, it was ranked #1 in U.S. News & World Report’s 2017 rankings of best liberal arts colleges and is consistently ranked as one of the top schools in the country by similar publications like Forbes and Washington Monthly Magazine. The school also offers top-notch academics with a required core curriculum that includes classes in history, literature, science and math; students can choose their own classes from this list—allowing them to develop unique interests while still studying the basic material they need to graduate with a strong education in those areas above all else
There’s no doubt about it: college is an experience that can change your life. Whether you choose to pursue an education at one of the 50 schools we’ve listed here (or somewhere else entirely), there’s no doubt that your choice will have a lifelong impact on who you are and what you do.