regional-gem-midwestThe Midwest is full of big universities–it’s home to the Big 10 after all! And while these schools are great for some students, they aren’t right for everyone. Some are better fit for smaller colleges, of which they may not even be aware.

To shed light on small but deserving colleges around the country, we continue our hidden gems series with a list of regional gem colleges in the Midwest.

See gems in the South and West here.

1. Beloit College

Beloit, WI
Enrollment: 1,306

Beloit is named for the small Wisconsin town where it resides, less than a ten-minute walk from the Illinois border. Founded in 1846, the college is Wisconsin’s oldest and is committed to providing an education based on “the liberal arts in practice” in 50 different majors.

Mark's Postcards from Beloit via Flickr

Mark’s Postcards from Beloit via Flickr

Learn more about Beloit College

2. Saint Mary’s College

South Bend, IN
Enrollment: 1,479

Saint Mary’s College is one of two women’s colleges remaining in Indiana and is located just across the street from the University of Notre Dame. Students at Saint Mary’s enjoy an all women’s campus while taking advantage of additional academic opportunities across the way.

Jaknelaps via Wikimedia Commons

Jaknelaps via Wikimedia Commons

Learn more about St. Mary’s College

3. Hope College

Holland, MI
Enrollment: 3,388

Located just a few miles from the shores of Lake Michigan, Hope College offers an impressive 93 majors and 200 study abroad programs. Many students live in residence halls, but Hope also owns 72 individual “cottages” which house smaller numbers of students. Folk singer Sufjan Stevens is a notable Hope alum.

Trenner1945

Trenner1945 via Wikimedia Commons

Learn more about Hope College

4. College of Saint Benedict and St. John’s University

St. Joseph, MN
Enrollment: 3,966

Saint Benedict (for women) and St. John’s (for men) are actually two separate liberal arts colleges, but their partnership is so close that they are usually considered together. The community forms the largest liberal arts college in the nation. CSB/SJU students have the choice among more 40 programs of study.

Learn more about College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University

5. Knox College

Galesburg, IL
Enrollment: 1,424

Knox College, located in western Illinois, stresses the importance of applying classroom learning to real-world experiences such as faculty research and service programs.The liberal arts college offers over 60 programs of study, as well as 5 trimester-long immersive programs.

Jimmy Thomas via Flickr

Jimmy Thomas via Flickr

Learn more about Knox College

7. Calvin College

Grand Rapids, MI
Enrollment: 4,034

Calvin is a Christian liberal arts college located in western Michigan, offering one-hundred majors in the arts, sciences, engineering, and nursing. The interim (January) term each year is spent in an intensive course outside of the major, learning a hobby or studying abroad.

MJZ Photography via Flickr

MJZ Photography via Flickr

Learn more about Calvin College

8. Earlham College

West Richmond, IN
Enrollment: 1,159

Located in eastern Indiana, Earlham was the third college in the United States to be founded by Quakers. In line with this tradition, students and faculty refer to each other solely by their first names. The college offers over 30 majors and produces an exceptionally high number of students who go on to receive PhDs, especially in the life sciences.

Earlham College via Facebook

Earlham College via Facebook

Learn more about Earlham College

9. Truman State University

Kirksville, MO
Enrollment: 6,225

Truman is one of a handful of public liberal arts universities in the US. The northern Missouri college stresses the importance of cultivating a community of engaged, curious learners. Students have over 30 majors to choose from in business, liberal arts, and sciences.

Learn more about Truman State University

10. Lawrence University

Appleton, WI
Enrollment: 1,553

Lawrence is a strictly undergraduate liberal arts college and conservatory of music offering 35 distinct bachelor’s degrees. Located in central Wisconsin, the college seeks to educate the whole person through critical thinking and by promoting community.

Lawrence University via Facebook

Lawrence University via Facebook

Learn more about Lawrence University

11. Rockhurst University

Kansas City, MO
Enrollment: 2,920

One of the few truly urban regional gems, Rockhurst University offers more than 50 undergraduate and graduate degrees in a wide range of fields. The Jesuit university strives to educate students in service and leadership as well as scholarship, and graduates receive two transcripts: one for academics and one for service.

Rockhurst University via Facebook

Rockhurst University via Facebook

Learn more about Rockhurst University

12. John Carroll University

University Heights, OH
Enrollment: 3,711

Located in the suburbs of Cleveland, John Carroll serves both undergraduates (as a liberal arts college) and graduate students (as a business school). Its college of liberal arts and sciences offers over 50 majors, and some programs allow students to take a 5th year to graduate with both a bachelor’s and master’s degree.

John Carroll University via Facebook

John Carroll University via Facebook

Learn more about John Carroll University

14. Cornell College

Mount Vernon, IA
Enrollment: 1,125

Cornell is one of five colleges in the US to offer courses in block format so that students can focus completely on one subject for 3 and a half weeks. A science class, for instance, might meet in the morning for a lecture and then for a few hours in the lab in the afternoon. Students can choose from over 50 programs of study, or design their own major.

_dew_Incognito via Flickr

_dew_Incognito via Flickr

Learn more about Cornell College

15. Albion College

Albion, MI
Enrollment: 1,307

Albion shares a name with the small, southern Michigan town where it was founded. The liberal arts college offers more than 40 majors; popular among these include psychology, economics, biology, and biochemistry. Greek life is particularly active at Albion for a college its size.

Albion College via Facebook

Albion College via Facebook

Learn more about Albion College

16. Hanover College

Hanover, IN
Enrollment: 1,163

Established in 1827, Hanover is the oldest private college in the state of Indiana. Its picturesque campus is nestled along the Ohio River and Indiana’s border with Kentucky. Hanover’s mission is to provide an education that is inherently valuable, offering around 40 flexible programs of study in the liberal arts and sciences, as well as allowing students to design their own majors.

Learn more about Hanover College

Some highly specialized colleges and universities were excluded from consideration. Regional gems are defined as institutions of higher learning which distinguish themselves academically (i.e. have an overall ranking of less than 300) but receive fewer than 5,000 applications a year.

This piece was edited at 2:12 pm on 6/10/15 to correct Earlham College’s location to Richmond, IN rather than West Richmond, IN and at 8:06 am on 6/15/2015 to reflect that five colleges, and not two, use block schedule.