Hardest college to get into in every state

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February 26, 2019
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Hardest college to get into in every state

It was President Theodore Roosevelt that said, “A man who has never gone to school may steal from a freight car; but if he has a university education, he may steal the whole railroad.”

Indeed, having a college education is an enormous advantage in terms of furthering your career. With a college degree, you're likely to make more money, get improved health and retirement benefits, and find better career opportunities. And going to a selective school is an even greater leg up, affording you chances others simply may not have, such as higher lifetime earnings.

Some coastal states, such as Massachusetts and New York, have several highly selective colleges. For instance, Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology accept only 5% and 7%, respectively, of the students who apply. Other states, such as Utah or Arizona, have no highly selective schools: Brigham Young University, which accepts 52% of students who apply, is the most selective school in Utah. In Arizona, it is Grand Canyon University, which accepts 67% of students who apply.

To see which schools in each state are the most difficult to gain acceptance to, Stacker combed through Niche's Hardest Colleges to Get Into in America rankings from 2019. Niche ranked college's selectivity based on acceptance rates and SAT/ACT test scores, using data from both from the U.S. Department of Education and self-reported scores by Niche users.

Click through to the list to see the most selective schools in each state and to find out just how hard you'll need to hit that SAT prep book.

You may also like: States with the cheapest in-state public colleges

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Altairisfar // Wikimedia Commons

Alabama: Spring Hill College

- Location: Mobile, AL
- Acceptance rate: 46%
- Applicants: 8,544
- SAT range: 1020-1180
- ACT range: 21-26
- Net price: $21,065

Spring Hill College is the oldest Catholic college in the southeast. The school's average class size is 17 students, which allows for more discussion time, more personalized attention from teachers, and more accountability. That kind of intimacy in the classroom seems to pay off: A full 90% of SHC alumni get into the health-related grad programs of their choice while around 85% of communication arts grads land jobs related to their areas of focus within three months.

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Alaska: University of Alaska Southeast

- Location: Juneau, AK
- Acceptance rate: 71%
- Applicants: 449
- SAT range: data not available
- ACT range: data not available
- Net price: $10,451

At the University of Alaska Southeast, the student-to-teacher ratio is 12 to 1, which allows a more personalized approach to learning. The school's main campus is based in Juneau, but has two satellite campuses, one in Sitka and the other in Ketchikan. All campuses are near the Pacific Ocean, which makes the school an ideal location for studying marine sciences.

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GrandCanyonU // Wikimedia Commons

Arizona: Grand Canyon University

- Location: Phoenix, AZ
- Acceptance rate: 67%
- Applicants: 32,734
- SAT range: data not available
- ACT range: data not available
- Net price: $20,912

Grand Canyon University is the largest Christian university in the world. Though the school has a diverse offering of specialities, including business and teaching, roughly half of seniors graduate with a degree in nursing. A strong emphasis is placed on athletics: In 2016 the school committed to constructing 10 new athletics facilities by August 2018 as part of its "GCU 10 in 2" initiative.

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Arkansas: University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff

- Location: Pine Bluff, AR
- Acceptance rate: 47%
- Applicants: 4,393
- SAT range: 880-1060
- ACT range: 16-20
- Net price: $8,149

A historically black college, the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff is the second oldest public institution in the state. The most popular major is biology; and the school has the only comprehensive aquafarming program in the state, which helps to support the state's sizable aquaculture industry.

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Creative Commons Zero // Max Pixel

California: Stanford University

- Location: Stanford, CA
- Acceptance rate: 5%
- Applicants: 44,073
- SAT range: 1390-1540
- ACT range: 32-35
- Net price: $16,562

Stanford University ranks as one of the world's best schools and is known especially for its computer science, biology, and engineering programs. Alumni from Stanford have founded a large number of companies, including founder of Nike, Phil Knight, and heads of Google's parent company, Sergey Brin and Larry Page.

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Colorado: United States Air Force Academy

- Location: USAFA, CO (Colorado Springs area)
- Acceptance rate: 12%
- Applicants: 10,202
- SAT range: 1210-1390
- ACT range: 28-32
- Net price: data not available

The United States Air Force Academy is the youngest of the five service academies. (The US Military Academy was the first.) Active-duty Air Force officers make up roughly 70% of the faculty there. In addition to rigorous military training, cadets also take a broad academic course load that includes engineering, social studies, and humanities.

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Connecticut: Yale University

- Location: New Haven, CT
- Acceptance rate: 7%
- Applicants: 32,879
- SAT range: 1460-1580
- ACT range: 32-35
- Net price: $18,053

Yale University is the third oldest institution for higher learning in the United States. It is well-known for its drama, history, music, and economics programs as well as its law school. The university boasts an impressive number of famous alumni, including five U.S. presidents, 19 Supreme Court judges, and many heads of state. Its student-to-faculty ratio is tiny—a mere 6 to 1.

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Delaware: Delaware State University

- Location: Dover, DE
- Acceptance rate: 45%
- Applicants: 7,636
- SAT range: 820- 990
- ACT range: 17-21
- Net price: $12,736

A historically black college, Delaware State University is especially known for its College of Business, named by the Princeton Review as one of the best business schools in the country for 10 consecutive years. Delaware State operates a full-service, university-based flight school, the only one in the mid-Atlantic region.

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Florida: University of Miami

- Location: Coral Gables, FL
- Acceptance rate: 36%
- Applicants: 30,638
- SAT range: 1230-1420
- ACT range: 28-32
- Net price: $42,204

The University of Miami offers more than 180 majors, of which the most popular are finance, nursing, and economics. The university’s Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science is located on an 18-acre campus housed within a 65-acre marine and atmospheric research institution.


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Georgia: Georgia Institute of Technology

- Location: Atlanta, GA
- Acceptance rate: 23%
- Applicants: 31,497
- SAT range: 1090-1520
- ACT range: 30-34
- Net price: $15,873

Georgia Institute of Technology has come a long way from its start as a Reconstruction-era plan to rebuild the region after the Civil War. Now it's ranked #6 among public universities in the country, based on Niche's rankings, and is well known for its expertise in engineering. In 2016, U.S. News & World Report ranked Georgia Tech's College of Engineering undergraduate program as fourth in the nation among undergraduate engineering programs that also offer doctoral programs.

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Hawaii: Brigham Young University - Hawaii

- Location: Laie, HI
- Acceptance rate: 37%
- Applicants: 3,340
- SAT range: 1090-1250
- ACT range: 22-26
- Net price: $12,155

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints owns and operates Brigham Young University in Hawaii—a large portion of tuition is funded by the church, too. The school also offers some uncommon majors, including Pacific Islands and Hawaiian studies.

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Idaho: Northwest Nazarene University

- Location: Nampa, ID
- Acceptance rate: 73%
- Applicants: 967
- SAT range: 1030-1230
- ACT range: 20-27
- Net price: $19,204

The Northwest Nazarene University was the first accredited college affiliated with the Church of Nazarene; now it is one of eight liberal arts colleges to have that affiliation. The school offers more than 60 degree program: The most popular majors are business and nursing.

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Illinois: University of Chicago

- Location: Chicago, IL
- Acceptance rate: 8%
- Applicants: 27,694
- SAT range: 1480-1580
- ACT range: 32-35
- Net price: $34,834

The University of Chicago boasts a low student-to-teacher ratio—5 to 1—as well as an affiliation with 98 Nobel laureates, 52 MacArthur "genius grant" fellows, and 23 Pulitzer Prize winners, including Thornton Wilder—who won on three occasions. Of those who apply, 85% of UChicago graduates are accepted to medical school, and 84% are accepted to a top-20 law school.

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Indiana: University of Notre Dame

- Location: Notre Dame, IN
- Acceptance rate: 19%
- Applicants: 19,564
- SAT range: 1370-1520
- ACT range: 32-34
- Net price: $27,453

The University of Notre Dame is a Catholic, research-oriented institution that is consistently recognized as one of the top schools in the country. Situated on a sprawling, 1,250-acre campus of park-like landscape, Notre Dame was named one of the most beautiful college campuses by Travel + Leisure. Popular majors at this university include finance, accounting, and economics.

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Public Domain // Wikimedia Commons

Iowa: Grinnell College

- Location: Grinnell, IA
- Acceptance rate: 29%
- Applicants: 5,850
- SAT range: 1310-1510
- ACT range: 30-34
- Net price: $29,492

Grinnell has one of the biggest endowments among liberal arts colleges in the country. According The Princeton Review, students are not required to take general education classes; Grinnellians "are truly free to explore their passions without feeling obligated to study things they don’t enjoy.” 

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Kansas: Sterling College - Kansas

- Location: Sterling, KS
- Acceptance rate: 52%
- Applicants: 1,759
- SAT range: 900-1070
- ACT range: 18-22
- Net price: $20,147

As a private Christian school affiliated with the Presbyterian Church, it is fitting that one-fifth of Sterling College students have participated in an international mission trip. The most popular majors are economics, political science, and computer science.

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Kentucky: Alice Lloyd College

- Location: Pippa Passes, KY
- Acceptance rate: 26%
- Applicants: 5,599
- SAT range: 940-1030
- ACT range: 18-23
- Net price: $14,075

Alice Lloyd College was founded to help educate local leaders: Today the school covers tuition for students living within 108 counties in Central Appalachia. This is why the school is continually recognized by U.S. News & World Report as the “Top College in the Nation for Graduating Students with the Least Amount of Debt.”

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Louisiana: Tulane University

- Location: New Orleans, LA
- Acceptance rate: 21%
- Applicants: 35,622
- SAT range: 1330-1490
- ACT range: 30-33
- Net price: $33,886

Tulane University attracts a diverse student body with 85% of Tulane students coming from more than 300 miles away. It also claims some notable alumni, including 18 Rhode scholars, 180 Fulbright scholars, multiple members of Congress, and two surgeon generals. The university requires all students to complete a minimum of 85 hours of community service through major-related work.

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Public Domain // Wikimedia Commons

Maine: Bowdoin College

- Location: Brunswick, ME
- Acceptance rate: 14%
- Applicants: 7,251
- SAT range: 1360-1510
- ACT range: 31-33
- Net price: $24,447

Bowdoin College tied with three others schools for the fifth best liberal arts college in the country in U.S. News & World Report's 2019 rankings. The most popular majors are biology, economics, and oceanographic sciences. A bonus: The Princeton Review rated the school's dining services as #1 in the country.

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Maryland: Johns Hopkins University

- Location: Baltimore, MD
- Acceptance rate: 13%
- Applicants: 27,156
- SAT range: 1450-1570
- ACT range: 33-35
- Net price: $29,066

Considered the first research university in the country, Johns Hopkins University leads all schools in the country in terms of money spent on research and development, spending $2.43 billion in 2016. The most popular majors include public health, bioengineering and biomedical engineering, and neuroscience. Its school of medicine is well ranked, and 80% of pre-med students are admitted to a medical school within five years of graduating from Johns Hopkins. 

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Massachusetts: Harvard University

- Location: Cambridge, MA
- Acceptance rate: 5%
- Applicants: 39,506
- SAT range: 1460-1590
- ACT range: 32-35
- Net price: $17,030

Globally known as one of the most prestigious of America's Ivy League schools, Harvard University was founded 140 years prior to the U.S. becoming an official nation. It is the most selective school in the country, according to Niche. Its alumni include eight U.S. presidents, 364 Rhodes scholars, and 188 billionaires as of 2017. The most popular undergraduate major there is economics.

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Michigan: University of Michigan - Ann Arbor

- Location: Ann Arbor, MI
- Acceptance rate: 27%
- Applicants: 59,886
- SAT range: 1330-1500
- ACT range: 30-33
- Net price: $16,408

This public university's 1817 founding preceded Michigan's statehood by two decades. The University of Michigan is located in Ann Arbor, which gets a great deal of attention for being an exceptional college town. The acceptance rate is getting tougher at this institution: Their acceptance rate is down to 18%, while it was 26% for the Class of 2024.

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Minnesota: Carleton College

- Location: Northfield, MN
- Acceptance rate: 21%
- Applicants: 6,499
- SAT range: 1360-1530
- ACT range: 31-34
- Net price: $28,148

At Carleton College, a small private liberal arts school, the average class size is 16 students with 69.6% of classes having under 20 students. The most popular majors at this university include computer science and biology. Two of Carleton's own, an assistant professor of biology and academic technologist, have developed an augmented reality app called BiochemAR, which can help students "visualize and understand complex 3D biological molecules that are invisible to the naked eye."

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Mississippi: Belhaven University

- Location: Jackson, MS
- Acceptance rate: 59%
- Applicants: 2,324
- SAT range: 902-1180
- ACT range: 20-25
- Net price: $17,783

The White House STEM Initiative has recognized only two Christian universities: one of which is Belhaven. The university is also one of 36 institutions in America to be accredited in dance, music, theatre, and visual art—each of the major arts. Alumni from the Christian liberal arts college make an average of $31,700, according to Niche.

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Missouri: Washington University in St. Louis

- Location: Saint Louis, MO
- Acceptance rate: 16%
- Applicants: 30,463
- SAT range: 1470-1570
- ACT range: 32-34
- Net price: $27,777

Washington University in St. Louis is known for its medicine and engineering programs. In 1976, "in St. Louis" was added to clear up any confusion as to its location. There have been 24 Nobel laureates in physiology, economics, and medicine affiliated with the school; nine of whom conducted research while at the university.


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Montana: Rocky Mountain College

- Location: Billings, MT
- Acceptance rate: 64%
- Applicants: 1,238
- SAT range: 910-1150
- ACT range: 20-25
- Net price: $20,276

Rocky Mountain College is the oldest college in Montana. The most popular majors include business, kinesiology and exercise science, and biology, according to Niche, but they also offer an aviation program, as well as equine studies (equestrian-related courses). 

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Nebraska: College of Saint Mary

- Location: Omaha, NE
- Acceptance rate: 56%
- Applicants: 378
- SAT range: data not available
- ACT range: 19-24
- Net price: $19,404

A small Catholic women's university primarily focused on health, education, and business, College of Saint Mary graduates earn a starting salary of $34,800, according to Niche. The school's three paralegal programs have approval from the American Bar Association—one of less than 300 universities to have such a distinction.

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Nevada: University of Nevada - Reno

- Location: Reno, NV
- Acceptance rate: 88%
- Applicants: 9,721
- SAT range: 1070-1260
- ACT range: 21-26
- Net price: $16,230

Founded in 1874, Nevada's first university, University of Nevada, Reno, focuses on community outreach, impactful research, and experiential learning. The school's most popular majors are business, civil engineering, and chemistry. One of the university's own professors, geologist and planetary scientist Wendy Calvin worked on missions for the Mars Exploration Rovers

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New Hampshire: Dartmouth College

- Location: Hanover, NH
- Acceptance rate: 10%
- Applicants: 20,035
- SAT range: 1430-1560
- ACT range: 30-34
- Net price: $22,303

Dartmouth College alumni go on to make a respectable starting salary of $54,700, according to Niche. Its renowned academic offerings have attracted many scientists and eventual politicians while its Division I athletics have drawn a great deal of future Olympians. Notable arts and entertainment alumni include author Theodor Seuss Geisel (Dr. Suess), actress Meryl Streep, poet Robert Frost, and "Grey's Anatomy" creator Shonda Rhimes. 

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New Jersey: Princeton University

- Location: Princeton, NJ
- Acceptance rate: 6%
- Applicants: 31,056
- SAT range: 1430-1570
- ACT range: 31-35
- Net price: $16,302

The fourth-oldest institution of higher learning in the country, Princeton University is the alma mater of groundbreaking American mathematician John Forbes Nash Jr., who was awarded the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel in 1994 (he shared the prize with two other economists). The school boasts a student-to-faculty ratio of 5 to 1, as well as 26 faculty and staff who have won Nobel Prizes. 

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New Mexico: New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology

- Location: Socorro, NM
- Acceptance rate: 22%
- Applicants: 1,513
- SAT range: 1190-1390
- ACT range: 23-29
- Net price: $13,741

New Mexico Tech is a relatively small, research-and-teaching oriented school focused on science and engineering. Mechanical engineering is the most popular concentration with mining and petroleum engineering a close second. In 2010, Newsweek called New Mexico Tech one of North America’s best small science and engineering schools.

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New York: Columbia University

- Location: New York, NY
- Acceptance rate: 7%
- Applicants: 38,118
- SAT range: 1410-1570
- ACT range: 31-34
- Net price: $22,824

Columbia University is the fifth oldest university of higher learning in the U.S. and the oldest in New York. Founded in 1754 as King's College, several of America's Founding Fathers were some of the university's earliest students and trustees, including the first Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton and the first Chief Justice of the United States John Jay. 


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Public Domain // Wikimedia Commons

North Carolina: Duke University

- Location: Durham, NC
- Acceptance rate: 10%
- Applicants: 33,077
- SAT range: 1380-1540
- ACT range: 31-35
- Net price: $22,011

The top majors at Duke University include economics, computer science, and public policy analysis. According to Niche, only 5% of Duke students do not graduate, and the 95% that do become graduates are likely to make a starting salary of $68,800; six years after graduation, Duke alumni make a median salary of $77,900—the national average is $33,028. Notable alumni include Melinda Gates and Richard Nixon.

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North Dakota: University of Jamestown

- Location: Jamestown, ND
- Acceptance rate: 65%
- Applicants: 1,154
- SAT range: 940-1050
- ACT range: 19-24
- Net price: $18,471

Founded by the Presbyterian Church, the University of Jamestown is a small school with a student-to-faculty ratio of 12 to 1. Niche has rated this university #1 for being the best-value college in North Dakota. Nursing, business, and element education are the most popular majors here. 

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Ohio: Kenyon College

- Location: Gambier, OH
- Acceptance rate: 34%
- Applicants: 5,603
- SAT range: 1260-1460
- ACT range: 29-33
- Net price: $31,704

Kenyon College's 1,000-acre campus is home to the Brown Family Environmental Center, which offers educational and research opportunities, along with community engagement. At the site, Kenyon students can take courses in biology, ecology, and environmental science, as well as hike, bird watch, and volunteer. The school also has an intense focus on writing, with English being the most popular major; author of “The Fault in Our Stars” John Green is a Kenyon graduate.

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Oklahoma: University of Tulsa

- Location: Tulsa, OK
- Acceptance rate: 39%
- Applicants: 7,869
- SAT range: 1150-1440
- ACT range: 25-32
- Net price: $25,086

The University of Tulsa's petroleum engineering program is a draw for students—classes are taught in a $16 million facility that houses a drilling simulator. Its law school offers a formal Indian Law certificate program, the first law school to do so; the university actually has roots as a girls boarding school in the Muskogee Indian Territory, founded in 1882.

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Oregon: Reed College

- Location: Portland, OR
- Acceptance rate: 36%
- Applicants: 5,652
- SAT range: 1310-1500
- ACT range: 30-33
- Net price: $32,097

Reed College is a small school bisected by a forested canyon nature preserve, which the community cleans up twice per year as part of restoration efforts. While letter grades are used at times, there is not a strong emphasis put upon them; there is no honor roll or dean’s list at the university. Many students graduate without knowing their cumulative grade-point average. Freshman are required to take Humanities 110, an introduction to Greek, Roman, and ancient Jewish history. 

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Pennsylvania: University of Pennsylvania

- Location: Philadelphia, PA
- Acceptance rate: 9%
- Applicants: 40,413
- SAT range: 1420-1560
- ACT range: 32-35
- Net price: $24,539

University of Pennsylvania has graduated more billionaires from its undergraduate programs than any other U.S. college, according to Forbes. A bachelor’s degree from Penn’s Wharton School of business ”is more popular among billionaires than any other college diploma.” The Perelman School of Medicine is North America’s first school of medicine and Wharton is the first collegiate business school.

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Chensiyuan (Chen Siyuan) // Wikimedia Commons

Rhode Island: Brown University

- Location: Providence, RI
- Acceptance rate: 8%
- Applicants: 32,723
- SAT range: 1400-1570
- ACT range: 31-35
- Net price: $25,651

Ranked by Niche as #1 among Colleges with the Best Professors in America, Brown University is situated in a richly historical, urban setting complete with Colonial-era buildings. Biology, economics, and computer science are the most popular majors at Brown, where the student-to-faculty ratio is 7 to 1. Notable alumni include Janet Yellen, former chair of the Federal Reserve, and John D. Rockefeller, Jr., a philanthropist who built Rockefeller Center in New York City. 

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South Carolina: Clemson University

- Location: Clemson, SC
- Acceptance rate: 47%
- Applicants: 26,242
- SAT range: 1220-1390
- ACT range: 27-31
- Net price: $18,757

Tucked into the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Clemson University is a land-grant research institution oriented toward science and engineering. The most popular major is business, followed closely by biology, marketing, psychology, and mechanical and industrial engineering. Clemson is the best value among all colleges in South Carolina, according to SmartAsset.

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South Dakota: Augustana University

- Location: Sioux Falls, SD
- Acceptance rate: 68%
- Applicants: 1,975
- SAT range: 1070-1290
- ACT range: 23-29
- Net price: $18,937

Augustana University, casually referred to as “Augie,” is the largest private university in the state. Niche has ranked the school #1 in multiple categories, including Best Colleges for Nursing in South Dakota,  Best Colleges for Biology in South Dakota, and Best College in South Dakota. It also came in fourth in U.S. News & World Report's ranking of Midwestern colleges. It boasts a 99% job placement rate for recent graduates, according to Augustana. 

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Tennessee: Vanderbilt University

- Location: Nashville, TN
- Acceptance rate: 11%
- Applicants: 31,462
- SAT range: 1440-1570
- ACT range: 32-35
- Net price: $23,295

Vanderbilt University is situated on a 330-acre campus smack dab in the heart of Nashville. Vanderbilt is currently ranked #3 by The Princeton Review in two categories: happiest students and most beautiful campus. An arboretum on site features more than 6,000 trees and shrubs (190 different species). Its most common majors the school are economics, social science research methods, and liberal arts and humanities. Famous alumni include former Vice President Al Gore, NFL quarterback Jay Cutler, and author James Patterson.

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Texas: Rice University

- Location: Houston, TX
- Acceptance rate: 16%
- Applicants: 18,063
- SAT range: 1490-1580
- ACT range: 33-35
- Net price: $24,131

With a median class size of 14 and a student-to-teacher ratio of 6 to 1, Rice University offers 50 undergraduate majors, the most popular being economics. The school also supports many research institutes and groups across a wide variety of subjects, including the Rice Space Institute—14 NASA astronauts have been Rice alumni. Rice plans to become a world-leading research university, if they are not already.

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Utah: Brigham Young University

- Location: Provo, UT
- Acceptance rate: 52%
- Applicants: 12,858
- SAT range: 1210-1410
- ACT range: 27-32
- Net price: $12,979

Ranked the #3 best Christian College in America by Niche, almost all students that attend Brigham Young University are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Exercise physiology, accounting, and psychology are the most popular majors at BYU. Senator Mitt Romney and "Twilight" author Stephenie Meyer are both BYU alumni. 

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Daderot // Wikimedia Commons

Vermont: Middlebury College

- Location: Middlebury, VT
- Acceptance rate: 17%
- Applicants: 8,909
- SAT range: 1320-1510
- ACT range: 30-34
- Net price: $22,841

Middlebury College is a rural school located in the Champlain Valley next to the Green Mountains. The school offers summer courses in 10 different languages, including Portuguese and Russian. Two Middlebury students also founded the International Quidditch Association, based on the sport from the "Harry Potter" novels.

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Virginia: Washington & Lee University

- Location: Lexington, VA
- Acceptance rate: 22%
- Applicants: 5,455
- SAT range: 1350-1490
- ACT range: 31-33
- Net price: $25,029

Washington & Lee University is named after George Washington, who helped the institution financially before the end of his second presidential term, and Robert E. Lee, who led the Confederate Army and became president of the school shortly after his surrender to Ulysses S. Grant. At Washington & Lee, the most popular major is business; the university's Williams School of Commerce, Economics, and Politics is the only top-tier, nationally accredited commerce school in the U.S.


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Washington: University of Washington

- Location: Seattle, WA
- Acceptance rate: 46%
- Applicants: 44,877
- SAT range: 1190-1420
- ACT range: 27-32
- Net price: $9,443

Rated the #1 Best College in Washington by Niche, the University of Washington is a large, urban campus that occupies 703 acres of city street. Highly popular majors at the public university, lovingly referred to as “U-Dub,” include psychology, communications, and biochemistry and molecular biology. U-Dub has been ranked #3 U.S. public university and #14 among public universities across the world in the 2018 Academic Ranking of World Universities.

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West Virginia: Alderson Broaddus College

- Location: Philippi, WV
- Acceptance rate: 41%
- Applicants: 4,329
- SAT range: 930-1080
- ACT range: 18-23
- Net price: $17,794

On top of a hill that looks across the Tygart River Valley, Alderson Broaddus College is a small, rural school with a well-known nursing program, which allows students who earn a bachelor's degree in nursing to continue to a master's level. Seventy percent of classes at Alderson Broaddus have less than 20 students, with a 16 to 1 student-to-faculty ratio, according to U.S. News.

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Creative Commons Zero // Max Pixel

Wisconsin: University of Wisconsin - Madison

- Location: Madison, WI
- Acceptance rate: 54%
- Applicants: 35,596
- SAT range: 1280-1450
- ACT range: 27-31
- Net price: $15,910

The University of Wisconsin was founded in 1848, the same year Wisconsin achieved statehood. Today, land-grant institution UW-Madison is the largest public university the Wisconsin; it is also the largest employer in the state, with 39,000 employees. The school owns and operates a historic 1,200-acre arboretum, the site of historic research in ecological conservation. The most popular degree at UW-Madison is biology, followed by economics. 

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Wyoming: University of Wyoming

- Location: Laramie, WY
- Acceptance rate: 97%
- Applicants: 4,306
- SAT range: 1040-1290
- ACT range: 22-27
- Net price: $13,441

Situated high on the Laramie Plains on a picturesque campus, the University of Wyoming is all about the outdoors. The School of Environment and Natural Resources teaches biodiversity conservation and natural resource management. In fact, UW was named one the country's top “adventure colleges” by Outside Magazine in 2012, citing the school's rec program and its relationship with the National Outdoor Leadership School.

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