50 Best Small Colleges and Universities Ranked for Students in 2022 – Academic Influence

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Small colleges are a great option for students interested in a more intimate campus experience, more personal attention from excellent professors, and more immediate access to support services. Whether the focus is on the technical (as at Caltech) or on the liberal arts (as at Sarah Lawrence), small colleges give you the chance to pursue a well-rounded education while working closely with classmates and professors in a dynamic community atmosphere.
When comparing a big college campus to a small college campus, consider that the latter offers more individualized experiences, including opportunities for illuminating classroom discussions, independent research, and one-on-one relationships with your instructors.
Others will be drawn to the experience that a small college and university can give, while many prospective students will yearn for vast campuses and the anonymity of a bustling student population. However, small universities may not receive the same exposure as their larger counterparts and have diverse student organizations due to size and budgetary differences. But even so, going to a small institution or university has many advantages.
Different kinds of small colleges offer undergraduate and graduate-level degrees. Before enrolling in one, students should know the differences between them.
These universities provide a wide range of liberal arts courses, covering subjects like literature, history, languages, arithmetic, and the social sciences. The majority are private and provide four-year bachelor’s degree programs. These institutions can help you get ready for a range of jobs or graduate school.
However, a private liberal arts college may cost more than public technical schools. Thankfully, many private and national liberal arts colleges, such as Washington and Lee University, Union College, Mount Holyoke College, Swarthmore College, and Smith College, provide financial aid opportunities for students interested in pursuing liberal arts education.
Public universities receive funding from local and state governments and frequently charge less for tuition than private institutions, particularly for students who live in the state where the college is located. On the other hand, tuition, fees, and private money are the primary sources of funding for private colleges. Sometimes large financial aid packages for students are made possible by private donations.
A historically black university gives black children the chance to experience an educational community where they are finally the majority and celebrate African-American culture and empowerment.
Spelman College ranks as a leading Historically Black College and University. This small college is one of the few small HBCU colleges that produced African-American females who completed doctoral degrees.
Attending a small college has both advantages and disadvantages. You must choose what matters most to you: culture, resources, or staff.
Cons:
Pros:
The decision of which college or university to attend is important. Many high school students may feel overwhelmed by the process due to the overwhelming number of schools to consider. Here are some crucial considerations to remember so you can choose wisely.
Remember that you want to be a fantastic fit while selecting a college. You should pick an institution that aligns with your values and who you are. You can attend a college that best suits your needs by using the following advice to organize your goals and interests.
Methodology
The people affiliated with a school are ultimately what make it great! If you are serious about finding the best colleges and universities for a bachelor’s degree, you should be asking where the most influential professors are teaching and whether their graduates are themselves advancing the school’s reputation for academic excellence in their fields of study.
Most ranking sites rely on an opaque combination of reputation surveys and arbitrary performance metrics. Concentrated Influence provides a ranking that is freer from bias, insulated from manipulation, and reflective of real-world educational outcomes.
To rank the influence of schools, we first determine the influence of scholars and professionals based on the number of citations and publications they have had over the past 10 years. In addition to publications and citations, we consider the web links to and from these sources, and the page views of those sources. We then match the influential people to their alma maters and institutions of employment, so that their influence is attributed to those schools. Our machine-learning Influence Ranking algorithm produces a numerical score of academic achievements, merits, and citations across Wikipedia, wikidata, Crossref, Semantic Scholar and an ever-growing body of data. If you are interested in exploring how and why we rank by influence, explore our methodology in more depth.
Our ranking of the best small colleges and universities is composed mainly of four-year undergraduate schools (though many offer graduate programs). We’ve identified 1,069 small colleges in the US. In order to be included in this list of best small colleges and universities, a school must be a fully accredited non-profit institution, and must have a student body of 5,000 or fewer students.
Tuition + fees
$59K
Acceptance
4%
Graduation
93%
Student body
2K
Median SAT/ACT
1555/35
California Institute of Technology’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:
Tuition + fees
$48K
Acceptance
63%
Graduation
80%
Student body
5K
Median SAT/ACT
1275/27
Yeshiva University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:
Tuition + fees
$56K
Acceptance
8%
Graduation
94%
Student body
2K
Median SAT/ACT
1467/32
Swarthmore College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:
Tuition + fees
$62K
Acceptance
19%
Graduation
91%
Student body
3K
Wesleyan University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:
Tuition + fees
$63K
Acceptance
44%
Graduation
73%
Student body
1K
Reed College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:
Tuition + fees
$61K
Acceptance
9%
Graduation
92%
Student body
2K
Median SAT/ACT
1495/33
Amherst College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:
Tuition + fees
$60K
Acceptance
9%
Graduation
94%
Student body
2K
Williams College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:
Tuition + fees
$50K
Acceptance
66%
Graduation
71%
Student body
5K
Median SAT/ACT
1295/29
Illinois Institute of Technology’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:
Tuition + fees
$61K
Acceptance
16%
Graduation
92%
Student body
3K
Median SAT/ACT
1435/32
Wellesley College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:
Tuition + fees
$60K
Acceptance
34%
Graduation
82%
Student body
3K
Median SAT/ACT
1315/30
Oberlin College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:
Tuition + fees
$60K
Acceptance
11%
Graduation
93%
Student body
3K
Median SAT/ACT
1434/32
Barnard College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:
Tuition + fees
$52K
Acceptance
86%
Graduation
74%
Student body
4K
The Catholic University of America’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:
Tuition + fees
$56K
Acceptance
30%
Graduation
91%
Student body
3K
Smith College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:
Tuition + fees
$63K
Acceptance
20%
Graduation
93%
Student body
2K
Median SAT/ACT
1440/33
Vassar College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:
Tuition + fees
$61K
Acceptance
18%
Graduation
90%
Student body
1K
Median SAT/ACT
1440/33
Haverford College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:
Tuition + fees
$57K
Acceptance
7%
Graduation
93%
Student body
2K
Pomona College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:
Tuition + fees
$56K
Acceptance
39%
Graduation
87%
Student body
1K
Bryn Mawr College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:
Tuition + fees
$50K
Acceptance
48%
Graduation
79%
Student body
3K
Median SAT/ACT
1250/29
Clark University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:
Tuition + fees
$57K
Acceptance
43%
Graduation
93%
Student body
3K
Median SAT/ACT
1360/30
College of the Holy Cross’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:
Tuition + fees
$60K
Acceptance
13%
Graduation
91%
Student body
3K
Median SAT/ACT
1430/32
Middlebury College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:
Tuition + fees
$58K
Acceptance
9%
Graduation
94%
Student body
2K
Bowdoin College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:
Tuition + fees
$57K
Acceptance
52%
Graduation
85%
Student body
2K
Median SAT/ACT
1385/28
Mount Holyoke College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:
Tuition + fees
$62K
Acceptance
17%
Graduation
90%
Student body
3K
Median SAT/ACT
1385/31
Colgate University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:
Tuition + fees
$29K
Acceptance
65%
Graduation
47%
Student body
1K
Morehouse College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:
Tuition + fees
$58K
Acceptance
60%
Graduation
71%
Student body
3K
Bard College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:
Tuition + fees
$62K
Acceptance
47%
Graduation
85%
Student body
2K
Median SAT/ACT
1305/30
Union College, New York’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:
Tuition + fees
$61K
Acceptance
10%
Graduation
94%
Student body
<1K
Median SAT/ACT
1530/34
Harvey Mudd College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:
Tuition + fees
$58K
Acceptance
28%
Graduation
81%
Student body
2K
Median SAT/ACT
1325/30
Denison University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:
Tuition + fees
$59K
Acceptance
19%
Graduation
94%
Student body
2K
Median SAT/ACT
1425/33
Washington and Lee University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:
Tuition + fees
$58K
Acceptance
11%
Graduation
93%
Student body
1K
Median SAT/ACT
1415/32
Claremont McKenna College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:
Tuition + fees
$60K
Acceptance
18%
Graduation
91%
Student body
2K
Median SAT/ACT
1425/32
Carleton College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:
Tuition + fees
$62K
Acceptance
14%
Graduation
86%
Student body
2K
Colorado College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:
Tuition + fees
$63K
Acceptance
37%
Graduation
87%
Student body
2K
Median SAT/ACT
1370/31
Kenyon College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:
Tuition + fees
$59K
Acceptance
29%
Graduation
89%
Student body
4K
Median SAT/ACT
1370/31
University of Richmond’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:
Tuition + fees
$38K
Acceptance
75%
Graduation
77%
Student body
3K
Median SAT/ACT
1210/26
Calvin University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:
Tuition + fees
$46K
Acceptance
75%
Graduation
73%
Student body
3K
Median SAT/ACT
1205/27
University of Tulsa’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:
Tuition + fees
$33K
Acceptance
85%
Graduation
54%
Student body
4K
Fairleigh Dickinson University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:
Tuition + fees
$58K
Acceptance
38%
Graduation
83%
Student body
2K
Median SAT/ACT
1365/30
Occidental College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:
Tuition + fees
$44K
Acceptance
80%
Graduation
72%
Student body
2K
Willamette University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:
Tuition + fees
$59K
Acceptance
48%
Graduation
82%
Student body
2K
Dickinson College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:
Tuition + fees
$53K
Acceptance
75%
Graduation
62%
Student body
<1K
Hampshire College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:
Tuition + fees
$61K
Acceptance
31%
Graduation
90%
Student body
2K
Median SAT/ACT
1365/31
Macalester College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:
Tuition + fees
$59K
Acceptance
58%
Graduation
76%
Student body
2K
Median SAT/ACT
1315/29
Sarah Lawrence College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:
Tuition + fees
$28K
Acceptance
51%
Graduation
76%
Student body
2K
Median SAT/ACT
1125/22
Spelman College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:
Tuition + fees
$59K
Acceptance
11%
Graduation
87%
Student body
2K
Median SAT/ACT
1445/32
Grinnell College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:
Tuition + fees
$61K
Acceptance
38%
Graduation
85%
Student body
2K
Trinity College ’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:
Tuition + fees
$35K
Acceptance
84%
Graduation
79%
Student body
5K
Median SAT/ACT
1150/26
Samford University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:
Tuition + fees
$60K
Acceptance
35%
Graduation
88%
Student body
4K
Median SAT/ACT
1340/30
Bucknell University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:
Tuition + fees
$23K
Acceptance
70%
Graduation
68%
Student body
4K
Median SAT/ACT
1104/21
Ashland University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:
Tuition + fees
$37K
Acceptance
92%
Graduation
81%
Student body
3K
Median SAT/ACT
1200/26
Hope College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:
You know by now that the best large universities are not always the best learning environment for students who prefer smaller, more personal settings.
If you want a top-notch education from a small college, but would like a school that is close to home, check out our list of the best colleges and universities in each state.
Whether you’re just getting started on your college search, you’re looking for survival tips on your way to a bachelor’s degree, or you’re preparing for the transition into grad school, we’ve got guides, how to’s and tons of other valuable resources to keep you moving forward in your educational journey.
Photo Credit: California Institute of Technology, Beckman Institute. By Canon.vs.nikon, via CC BY-SA 3.0.
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