The Best Small Colleges

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The Best Small Colleges

Posted on February 19, 2016 by Nick Selbe MIT

For many prospective college students, the idea of attending a class with 400-plus students or sharing a campus with thousands of classmates is overwhelming. Making the adjustment to young adulthood is difficult enough, and the added pressure of navigating through a sea of other people can provide added stress. Other students might simply prefer smaller class sizes, a preference not necessarily tied to social apprehension.

For those who feel this way, there are plenty of smaller top-tier universities to choose from. Earlier this month, StartClass highlighted the top large colleges in the country. Now, we take a look at the nation's best small schools. For this list, we only considered schools with fewer than 5,000 undergraduate students.

Schools are ranked according to their Smart Rating, which is a comprehensive score designed to evaluate a college's overall effectiveness. The Smart Rating is based on five main factors - financial affordability, career readiness, admissions selectivity, expert opinion and academic excellence - and uses the most recent data from the National Center for Education Statistics. In the event of ties, the school with the fewest students was ranked higher on the list.

Of the 25 schools listed, six are located in New York, including two in New York City. Attending college in the Big Apple certainly could be overwhelming in its own right, but having a smaller community of classmates can counteract the hustle and bustle of the big city.

#25. Colby College

Smart Rating: 97.81
Undergraduate enrollment: 1,847
Acceptance rate: 28 percent
Average SAT score: 2000

#24. Barnard College

Smart Rating: 97.86
Undergraduate enrollment: 2,573
Acceptance rate: 23.8 percent
Average SAT score: 2035

#23. Colgate University

Smart Rating: 97.92
Undergraduate enrollment: 2,875
Acceptance rate: 26.2 percent
Average SAT score: 2062

#22. Hamilton College

Smart Rating: 97.99
Undergraduate enrollment: 1,904
Acceptance rate: 26.3 percent
Average SAT score: 2085

#21. Davidson College

Smart Rating: 98.09
Undergraduate enrollment: 1,770
Acceptance rate: 21.7 percent
Average SAT score: 2000

#20. Middlebury College

Smart Rating: 98.12
Undergraduate enrollment: 2,526
Acceptance rate: 17.2 percent
Average SAT score: 2065

#19. Grinnell College

Smart Rating: 98.12
Undergraduate enrollment: 1,734
Acceptance rate: 28 percent
Average SAT score: 2092

#18. Vassar College

Smart Rating: 98.13
Undergraduate enrollment: 2,421
Acceptance rate: 23.5 percent
Average SAT score: 2110

#17. Wellesley College

Smart Rating: 98.14
Undergraduate enrollment: 2,323
Acceptance rate: 30.1 percent
Average SAT score: 2095

#16. United States Air Force Academy

Smart Rating: 98.16
Undergraduate enrollment: 3,952
Acceptance rate: 16.6 percent
Average SAT score: 1950

#15. Carleton College

Smart Rating: 98.17
Undergraduate enrollment: 2,057
Acceptance rate: 22.8 percent
Average SAT score: 2115

#14. Haverford College

Smart Rating: 98.20
Undergraduate enrollment: 1,194
Acceptance rate: 24.7 percent
Average SAT score: 2115

#13. Claremont McKenna College

Smart Rating: 98.23
Undergraduate enrollment: 1,301
Acceptance rate: 10.8 percent
Average SAT score: 2155

#12. Washington and Lee University

Smart Rating: 98.33
Undergraduate enrollment: 1,890
Acceptance rate: 19.5 percent
Average SAT score: 2075

#11. United States Military Academy

Smart Rating: 98.34
Undergraduate enrollment: 4,414
Acceptance rate: 9.5 percent
Average SAT score: 1880

#10. Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art

Smart Rating: 98.34
Undergraduate enrollment: 893
Acceptance rate: 15.1 percent
Average SAT score: 2035

#9. Swarthmore College

Smart Rating: 98.52
Undergraduate enrollment: 1,542
Acceptance rate: 17 percent
Average SAT score: 2172

#8. Dartmouth College

Smart Rating: 98.60
Undergraduate enrollment: 4,289
Acceptance rate: 11.5 percent
Average SAT score: 2195

#7. Williams College

Smart Rating: 98.61
Undergraduate enrollment: 2,072
Acceptance rate: 19.3 percent
Average SAT score: 2190

#6. Harvey Mudd College

Smart Rating: 98.61
Undergraduate enrollment: 804
Acceptance rate: 14.2 percent
Average SAT score: 2214

#5. Amherst College

Smart Rating: 98.66
Undergraduate enrollment: 1,792
Acceptance rate: 13.8 percent
Average SAT score: 2169

#4. Rice University

Smart Rating: 98.72
Undergraduate enrollment: 3,926
Acceptance rate: 15.1 percent
Average SAT score: 2190

#3. Pomona College

Smart Rating: 98.75
Undergraduate enrollment: 1,650
Acceptance rate: 12.2 percent
Average SAT score: 2195

#2. California Institute of Technology

Smart Rating: 99.16
Undergraduate enrollment: 983
Acceptance rate: 8.8 percent
Average SAT score: 2310

#1. Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Smart Rating: 99.50
Undergraduate enrollment: 4,512
Acceptance rate: 7.9 percent
Average SAT score: 2230

Learn More About Colleges at StartClass


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