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Best small colleges in America

  • #20. Macalester College

    - Location: Saint Paul, MN
    - Undergraduate enrollment: 2,140
    - Student-to-faculty ratio: 10:1
    - Acceptance rate: 41%
    - Graduation rate: 90%
    - Six-year median earnings: $47,600
    - Two-year employment rate: 91%

    Macalester College is a liberal arts school emphasizing internationalism, multiculturalism, and service to society, in order to prepare students for a globally-connected world. Students get real-world experiences through opportunities in the Twin Cities of Saint Paul and Minneapolis. Its International Development concentration looks at how wealth and resources are distributed worldwide, while International Studies looks at human rights, global health, migration, and other topics.

  • #19. Hamilton College

    - Location: Clinton, NY
    - Undergraduate enrollment: 1,991
    - Student-to-faculty ratio: 9:1
    - Acceptance rate: 21%
    - Graduation rate: 93%
    - Six-year median earnings: $60,200
    - Two-year employment rate: 91%

    Hamilton College, named after treasury secretary Alexander Hamilton, is one of the three-dozen oldest colleges in the country—it was founded in 1793 as the Hamilton-Oneida Academy and chartered as a college in 1812. One unique look into the history of the school: Almost every year since 1865, a member of the 50th reunion class has reminisced about life on College Hill. Hamilton’s open curriculum allows students to create their own course of study.

  • #18. Wesleyan University

    - Location: Middletown, CT
    - Undergraduate enrollment: 2,928
    - Student-to-faculty ratio: 8:1
    - Acceptance rate: 17%
    - Graduation rate: 89%
    - Six-year median earnings: $54,700
    - Two-year employment rate: 90%

    Wesleyan University, which was founded in 1831, bills itself as a liberal arts and sciences school where critical thinking is matched with practical idealism. It is committed to interdisciplinary learning and an open curriculum, offers unique research opportunities, and has worked to develop internships and link sustainability to its academic programs.

  • #17. Davidson College

    - Location: Davidson, NC
    - Undergraduate enrollment: 1,843
    - Student-to-faculty ratio: 9:1
    - Acceptance rate: 19%
    - Graduation rate: 90%
    - Six-year median earnings: $58,900
    - Two-year employment rate: 88%

    Davidson College, a liberal arts college, was founded in 1837 by Presbyterians. Its Honor Code is central to the school’s environment and is marked by the Honor Code signing ceremony for first-year students. The college created a Commission on Race and Slavery to examine how its history is tied to slavery’s institution and legacy.

  • #16. Colgate University

    - Location: Hamilton, NY
    - Undergraduate enrollment: 2,936
    - Student-to-faculty ratio: 9:1
    - Acceptance rate: 25%
    - Graduation rate: 89%
    - Six-year median earnings: $63,600
    - Two-year employment rate: 93%

    Colgate University's foundational core curriculum connects to all of its majors and provides a shared experience for its students. Some of the core classes include Legacies of the Ancient World, Challenges of Modernity, and Communities and Identities. 13 is considered a lucky number at Colgate because in 1817, the 13 founders of what was then the Baptist Education Society backed it with $13 and 13 prayers.

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  • #15. Wellesley College

    - Location: Wellesley, MA
    - Undergraduate enrollment: 2,391
    - Student-to-faculty ratio: 8:1
    - Acceptance rate: 20%
    - Graduation rate: 92%
    - Six-year median earnings: $60,800
    - Two-year employment rate: 94%

    Wellesley College’s motto is “Non Ministrari sed Ministrare,” or “Not to be ministered unto, but to minister.” As one of the Seven Sisters, the liberal arts women’s college requires students to gain broad knowledge through the core curriculum, at which point they can then follow their own interests and choose interdisciplinary majors. About half of the students study abroad, and can also enroll in cross-registration programs with Babson College, Brandeis University, MIT, and Olin College of Engineering. They can also apply to earn a double degree with MIT or a combined five-year bachelor’s and master’s degree in international economics and finance with Brandeis.

  • #14. Swarthmore College

    - Location: Swarthmore, PA
    - Undergraduate enrollment: 1,554
    - Student-to-faculty ratio: 8:1
    - Acceptance rate: 9%
    - Graduation rate: 94%
    - Six-year median earnings: $56,700
    - Two-year employment rate: 85%

    At Swarthmore College, the first semester is pass-fail, the liberal arts curriculum is paired with an accredited engineering program, and the honors program features examinations given by outside experts. The college was founded by the Society of Friends (or Quakers). The Tri-Co Consortium connects the school with Bryn Mawr and Haverford colleges.

  • #13. Barnard College

    - Location: New York, NY
    - Undergraduate enrollment: 2,519
    - Student-to-faculty ratio: 9:1
    - Acceptance rate: 14%
    - Graduation rate: 91%
    - Six-year median earnings: $58,200
    - Two-year employment rate: 87%

    Because of its connection with Columbia University, Barnard College combines the advantages of a small, selective women's college with those of an “elite research university.” Columbia classes are open to all Barnard students, and Barnard students can pick a major at Columbia. The undergraduate college, one of the Seven Sisters, has access to more than 30 libraries and collections, as well as top-notch scientific and research facilities.

  • #12. Claremont McKenna College

    - Location: Claremont, CA
    - Undergraduate enrollment: 1,321
    - Student-to-faculty ratio: 8:1
    - Acceptance rate: 9%
    - Graduation rate: 91%
    - Six-year median earnings: $58,200
    - Two-year employment rate: 87%

    Claremont McKenna College, a liberal arts school, is one of the Claremont Colleges, a “seven-college consortium” modeled on Oxford University. Students benefit from small classes and a nine-to-one student-faculty ratio but also have access to a larger research university. More than 90% of the students complete internships, and nearly half study off campus. The Center for Global Education helps students receive a global education.

  • #11. Middlebury College

    - Location: Middlebury, VT
    - Undergraduate enrollment: 2,551
    - Student-to-faculty ratio: 8:1
    - Acceptance rate: 17%
    - Graduation rate: 91%
    - Six-year median earnings: $58,200
    - Two-year employment rate: 87%

    Middlebury College is a classic liberal arts college with graduate and specialized undergraduate programs that operate around the world. It emphasizes “reflection, discussion, and intensive interactions between students and faculty members” not only for the humanities, social sciences, arts, and languages but also for scientific and mathematics majors. It is also known for the Middlebury Language Schools, the Middlebury Bread Loaf School of English, and its Writers’ Conference.

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