With competition rising fiercely for admission into a good undergraduate school and the choice of subjects, school curriculum expanding with it, choosing the best undergraduate school can be confusing. There are large, small, public, private, urban and rural undergraduate schools to select from; while some are appealing because of their inviting locale in a countryside setting or in the midst of a cosmopolitan setting, others lure the students with their state-of-the-art facilities and distinguished host of teachers.
The list of top 25 undergraduate schools listed below have many diverse traits and distinct characteristics, however the common thread running through them is that of the promise of the best education ever. The undergraduate school curriculum of these top 25 schools is unparalleled and makes them stand apart.
Best Ivy Undergraduate School
Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut
Yale president Richard Levin is a leader and a visionary who has been tireless in his efforts to change admissions policies, making it one of the many reasons for achieving the number one position. A big attraction of the undergraduate experience for students is the residential-college system. Students live in one of twelve colleges, each with its own distinct personality, under the guidance of a master and a dean.
Best School for Entrepreneurs
Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Pennsylvania
Six of the campus’s 10 undergraduate schools offer entrepreneurship courses. The Smeal College of Business and the College of Engineering are the most natural partners with joint programs that show engineers how to run businesses, and teach business students the latest technology. Hotel-management students operate two on-campus hotels and conference centers where they’re involved in everything from food service to staffing the front desk while the College of Communications focuses on entrepreneurship in the Information Age.
Big 10 School
Northwestern University, Evanston, Ill
Comprising of six undergraduate schools, Northwestern University attracts students with diverse aspirations including budding actors, journalists, engineers and teachers as well as a host of liberal-arts students. Each school is world renown and attracts the best minds from across the globe. Set in Evanston at the edge of the bustling city of Chicago, Northwestern offers its students the best of both worlds.
Best Architectural School
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts
President Charles Vest initiated an ambitious $1 billion construction program at MIT, which includes Steven Holl’s Simmons Hall, an aluminum-clad dormitory, as well as the Fumihiko Maki’s expansion of the Media Lab. The more famous building is that of the Stata Center, a computer-science landmark by Frank Gehry containing labs for the “intelligence sciences” with connected corridors and public spaces to encourage spontaneous collaboration. MIT calls it an “intellectual village.”
Best School of Arts
Juilliard School, New York, N.Y.
With a history of more than a hundred years, Julliard is known as one the most famous undergraduate schools of arts. It can boast of an impressive alumni list that includes the likes of the actor Kevin Kline, violinist Itzhak Perlman, and choreographer Lar Lubovitch. To celebrate this glory, the school has introduced new choreography, productions and performances. Only a few select students comprising of musicians, dancers and actors get chosen every year to showcase their talent in the Juilliard Theatre right next to the Lincoln Centre.
Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts
Harvard’s library system ranks with the best of any kind in the country, even when compared to the Library of Congress. The collection which includes more than 15 million volumes, 5.5 million microforms, 6.5 million manuscripts and 5 million other research materials such as photographs, maps and recordings is the largest in the world. Harvard’s digital collection is particularly strong, and is hugely beneficial for students who want access to any existing online journal.
Best Riding School
Hollins University, Roanoke, Virginia
Situated in the breathtaking locale of Virginia’s horse country, Hollins undergraduate school is known for its exceptional training for equestriennes. The school is a regular winner of the Old Dominion Athletic Conference championship, and the Hollins team has won ten times in the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association. Although many Hollins students work with horses after graduation as trainers, riders or veterinarians, the school also offers a strong liberal-arts program and a highly regarded creative-writing curriculum. It is famous for its celebrity alumni the likes of Margaret Wise Brown, Annie Dillard and Lee Smith.
Best School for Diversity
Wesleyan University, Middletown, Connecticut
Dean of Admissions Nancy Meislahn believes that only a large cross section of society from across the globe can contribute to the intellectual diversity of an educational system. Wesleyan’s student population comprises of one third colored people and 7% international students. An additional 15% are the first in their family to attend a four-year college.
Best Tech Savvy School
Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire
This undergraduate school has been in the forefront of technological revolution ever since professors John Kemeny and Thomas Kurtz, forty years ago, not only realized the importance of computers but were responsible for creating the computer language BASIC. It is known to have the first e-mail programs and an early campus computer network. Dartmouth was also the first Ivy to install WiFi on campus. The school offers free software to students so they can turn their laptops into telephones using the school’s WiFi.
Best Fitness School
University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia
Following the adage of Thomas Jefferson, the founder of UVA, who advocated that a strong body makes the mind strong, UVA offers both varsity competitors and weekend warriors some of the best fitness facilities in the country. Students benefit hugely from the four indoor recreation centers, which together make up 300,000 square feet of pools, running tracks, weight rooms and classrooms for yoga and kickboxing. The school also maintains a 23-acre park for outdoor field sports and jogging.
Best Honor Code
Haverford College, Haverford, Pennsylvania
The honor code is central to the college’s values and includes every aspect of academic and social life. Rob Killion, Director of Admissions says that the founder, Haverford expects people to learn from one another, debate and argue with one another—but to do so respectfully. It is an academically rigorous liberal-arts college that advocates take-home and non-supervised exams, as well as students living in dorms without resident advisers.
Best School for Studying Abroad
Tufts University, Medford, Massachusetts
The mission at Tufts is simple – to teach students to be world citizens. Tufts likes students who want to study abroad. This translates into a strong language requirement and a chance to learn a new culture in one of Tufts’ own centers in countries like Germany, Chile, China or Ghana. About 40% of Tufts’ juniors are traveling across the world during the academic year.
Best School for Politics
George Washington University, Washington, D.C
With a campus close to the World Bank and a stone’s throw away from the White House, GWU is a dream college for every Political Science major. Many of the professors are consultants to top government officials thus bringing a real, practical and intelligent perspective to the classroom. The school also encourages internships at government agencies, think tanks and advocacy organizations.
Best School for Double Majors
Rice University, Houston, Texas
Rice allows its students to explore their passions and requires them to commit to their majors only in the Junior Year unlike most schools who ask for it in the Sophomore Year. With an ambitious student body, many of them go for double majors. The most common combination is science and humanities. The school is best known for its engineering and science curriculum, but the social sciences are also becoming strong.
Best School for Greeks with Brains
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan
Michigan is known for its multi-disciplinary approach including everything from music to medicine. A good eclectic mix of academics and a lively social life, it offers its students a complete balance. About 15% of undergrads go Greek, which students say helps them find a friendlier community within the vast student population. Fraternities and sororities are especially popular with the many out-of-state students.
Best School for Hot and Dry
Pomona College, Claremont, California
Pomona is one of five colleges of the Claremont University where students experience the best of both worlds – the academically challenging environment of a small New England liberal-arts college with year-round California sunshine. A combination that is attractive and motivating, the applications are up by almost 30% in the last few years. Students also can explore the academic and social resources of the other Claremont colleges, including Pitzer, Harvey Mudd and Scripps. But none of the colleges will be tapping a keg during “dry week,” a tradition at the start of the year during wherein no alcohol is allowed on campus.
Best State University
University of Texas at Austin
Although the University of Texas at Austin has attained the distinction of a laid-back campus, it is no place for slackers. With 50,000 students (more than any other school in the country), UT boasts some of the nation’s best business, law and engineering schools. Besides football, it has 900 student organizations that should keep you going.
Best School for Landing a Job
Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Practical approach and hands-on experience is the most important part of life at Carnegie Mellon. The school has 12 programs including computer science, engineering and drama, which are very famous. The school takes pride in being on the cutting edge in every field and encourages students to think about applying what they learn to the real world. About 70 percent of Carnegie Mellon students have a job offer when they graduate.
Best School for Health Careers
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, North Carolina
One of the top public universities in the US, UNC-Chapel Hill offers students a choice of more than 50 majors. But the main attraction for future doctors, nurses and other health professionals is the opportunity to study at a campus with all health disciplines in one place. The School of Nursing and the School of Public Health both have undergraduate programs. At the School of Medicine, undergrads can earn degrees in radiology science or clinical laboratory practice.
Best School for Individualists
Oberlin College, Oberlin, Ohio
Oberlin comprises of the College of Arts and Sciences and the Conservatory of Music. It has a unique approach to life and learning and the undergraduate school curriculum offers innovative subject matter like – Death and the Art of Dying, American Mixed Blood, and Destination: L.A. The student-run Experimental College lets undergraduates teach courses of their own creation, like Making Your Own Mobile or Mythology and Epic Storytelling in “Lord of the Rings.” This eccentricity is very rewarding and Oberlin graduates have more Ph.D.s than alumni of any other liberal-arts college.
Best School for City Haters
Cornell University, Ithaca, New York
Cornell’s rural, upstate New York campus is bounded by deep gorges, spectacular scenery and a beautiful rural setting. However, it has one of the most rigorous and challenging curriculums that draws only the best minds. The school’s greatest attraction is its academic diversity, with top-ranked undergraduate schools of engineering, arts and sciences, architecture, hotel administration, industrial and labour relations, agriculture and human ecology.
Best School for City Lovers
New York University, New York, N.Y.
With the Olsen twins Mary-Kate and Ashley lending NYU some of its fame, it is a school loved by the urban and the hip. One of the top attractions is the Tisch School of the Arts, which nurtures future actors, dancers and screenwriters. The business school is also highly rated, and students can take advantage of internships on Wall Street. The campus of NYU is not structured in the strictest sense – with buildings scattered throughout the Greenwich Village, most students like to believe that they have the whole city as the campus to explore.
Best Military School
U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis, Maryland
The four-year undergraduate curriculum at Annapolis is tough and technically oriented, with core requirements in engineering, natural sciences, humanities and social sciences. Traditions play a huge part in campus life. “When you first show up for classes in the fall, students begin counting down the number of days until the Army-Navy game,” says Cmdr. Tim Disher, admissions officer. Graduates become commissioned officers in the Navy or the Marine Corps.
Best Undergraduate School for Scholarships
Berea College, Berea, Kentucky
The 1,500 students at Berea come from families with average household incomes of only $30,000, and 80% have grown up in southern Appalachia, a region that spans nine states with some of the most remote and poor rural communities in the country. Berea’s mission is unique in that it believes in promoting education by giving scholarships to the poor but deserving. All students get full-tuition scholarships, although they do have to pay for their room, board and books. However, scholarships are available for those as well. Students are required to work—many of them at jobs on campus that help to keep Berea’s costs down.
Best Surf and Ski School
University of California, Santa Barbara
It is known to be the most beautiful campus located at the edge of the Pacific. UCSB also boasts Nobel Prize winners on its faculty, top research centers in science and technology, and an extensive study-abroad program. Aside from the top academics, the various recreation programs offered attract many of the students. The campus has its own beaches where students can surf, and the Big Bear ski resort is just a few hours away.
William Brister – – Federal Financial Aid