Top 25 Best Medium-Sized Colleges | 2019 Rankings

Middle of the road in terms of student population definitely doesn’t equate to middle of the road in terms of quality, and these fantastic schools prove that. Many of the very best medium-sized colleges are quite well known.

Medium-sized schools offer students the chance to meet many different people without totally getting lost in the crowd, and explore plenty of opportunities without getting overwhelmed.

For the purposes of our list, we are considering schools with total student enrollments of 2,000 to 10,000.

Here are College Raptor’s picks for the 25 best medium-sized colleges.

25. Brandeis University

  • Wikimedia Commons user Kenneth C. Zirkel

    Location: Waltham, MA

  • Student Enrollment: 5,729
  • College Type: Private

Located near the historic Charles River, Brandeis is named after the very first Jewish Justice of the Supreme Court—Louis Brandeis. Their mascot is named Ollie the Owl, and the school colors are blue and white. Brandeis has a 4 year graduation rate of 80%, which jumps up to 86% in 6 years.

24. Lehigh University

  • Flickr user Lehigh Valley, PA

    Location: West Bethlehem, PA

  • Student Enrollment: 7,059
  • College Type: Private

Lehigh is often considered a “Hidden Ivy” school. Nearly 14,000 applications were sent in last year, and Lehigh accepted almost 3,500 of them, giving the school an acceptance rate of 25%. The range of 28–32 is the average ACT score for incoming freshmen, while the range of 1320–1450 is average for the SAT.

23. The College of New Jersey

A lion features on TCNJ’s school seal, and doubles as their mascot known as Roscoe. Students wear blue and gold to cheer on the TCNJ Lions in a multitude of sports, including baseball, basketball, football, lacrosse, and tennis. They have an impressive 94% first year retention rate, and a student-to-faculty ratio of 13:1.

22. Macalester College

  • Flickr user Alan Levine

    Location: St. Paul, MN

  • Student Enrollment: 2,146
  • College Type: Private

Macalester College is a liberal arts school with a fairly high four year graduation rate of 85% and first year retention rate of 93%. With a 10 to 1 student to faculty ratio, almost all professors at the school have the highest degree available within their field. The most popular majors tend to be biology, economics, and political science.

21. Wesleyan University

  • Flickr user Jay McAnally

    Location: Middletown, CT

  • Student Enrollment: 3,206
  • College Type: Private

Wesleyan has a plethora of notable alumni and faculty in her ranks, including playwright Lin-Manuel Miranda, writer/director Joss Whedon, Blue Man Group co-founder Chris Wink, and author D.B. Weiss. Wesleyan has a 16% acceptance rate. The most popular major on campus is Economics, followed by English and Political Science.

20. Lafayette College

  • Flickr user drewbee

    Location: Easton, PA

  • Student Enrollment: 2,550
  • College Type: Private

Named after Marquis de Lafayette, this college is often considered a “hidden” or “little” Ivy League school. While many of the students call Pennsylvania their home state, many other students come from New York and California. The school participates in 23 NCAA Division I sports.

19. University of Richmond

  • Flickr user Rob Pongsajapan

    Location: Richmond, VA

  • Student Enrollment: 4,131
  • College Type: Private

At this university, a majority of the students are at the undergraduate level–81% to be precise. 33% of students who apply are accepted into Richmond. Business Administration is by far and away the most studied major on campus. The University of Richmond has a very unique mascot for their sports teams—a spider named Webstur.

18. Babson College

  • Flickr user sporst

    Location: Wellesley, MA

  • Student Enrollment: 3,165
  • College Type: Private

Biz E. Beaver is the mascot of the Babson Beavers, who participate in 22 varsity sports. Though Babson was initially a men’s college, it became coeducational in 1969, and nowadays 47.5% of the undergraduate students are women. Around 7,100 applications are sent in to Babson, though the college will only accept around 1,700 of them.

17. Colgate University

  • Flickr user Mike Bash

    Location: Hamilton, NY

  • Student Enrollment: 2,890
  • College Type: Private

Economics, Political Science, History, Neuroscience, and Psychology are the top five most popular major at Colgate. Incoming freshmen score an average of 30–33 on the ACT, and 1390–1500 on the SAT. Colgate has a 94% freshman retention rate. Their athletic teams are called the Raiders.

16. United States Air Force Academy

  • Flickr user Wally Gobetz

    Location: USAFA, CO

  • Student Enrollment: 4,237
  • College Type: Public

The motto of USAFA is “Integrity First, Service Before Self, Excellence in All We Do,” a fitting phrase for the cadets at this academy. Blue and silver make up the two school colors. With a 12% acceptance rate, only about 1,200 of the 10,000 applications sent in yearly are accepted. For every 9 students, there’s one faculty member.

15. Barnard College

  • Flickr user david basulto

    Location: New York, NY

  • Student Enrollment: 2,510
  • College Type: Private

One of the original Seven Sisters, Barnard is also one of the oldest women’s colleges in the world. It’s located right on the Hudson River. Blue and white are Barnard’s school colors, and their mascot is Millie the Dancing Bear. The acceptance rate is 15%, and Barnard received nearly 8,000 applications last year.

14. United States Military Academy

  • Flickr user mikek7890

    Location: West Point, NY

  • Student Enrollment: 4,389
  • College Type: Public

Known colloquially as “West Point” the US Military Academy sports the colors black and gold. To gain entry, students must apply and be nominated–typically by a Congressmen or Delegate, though students can also be nominated by the President or Vice President of the US. The acceptance rate is 10%.

13. Vassar College

  • Flickr user Yibo Yu

    Location: Poughkeepsie, NY

  • Student Enrollment: 2,424
  • College Type: Private

Vassar was the first degree-granting institute of higher learning in the United States, and was one of the original Seven Sisters. It became coeducational in 1969. Nearly 7,800 applications were sent in last year, and with an acceptance rate of 24%, about 1,850 were accepted. They have almost 400 athletes on campus, a near even split between men and women.

12. Middlebury College

  • Flickr user daiji

    Location: Middlebury, VT

  • Student Enrollment: 2,549
  • College Type: Private

Middlebury is the oldest college in the state of Vermont, founded back in 1800. Economics, Political Science, Environmental Studies, Psychology, and Neuroscience are the five most popular majors on campus. It was the first institute of higher learning in the country to award a Bachelor’s degree to an African-American student—Alexander Twilight, class of 1823.

11. Carleton College

  • Flickr user Willy Lee

    Location: Northfield, MN

  • Student Enrollment: 2,105
  • College Type: Private

Blue and maize are the bold colors for the the Carleton Knights. The most popular majors on campus are Computer Science, Biology, Economics, International Relations / Affairs, and Chemistry. The average ACT scores for incoming freshmen are between 30–34; for the SAT it’s between 1410 and 1540.

10. College of William and Mary

  • Flickr user benuski

    Location: Williamsburg, VA

  • Student Enrollment: 8,617
  • College Type: Public

Founded in 1693 by King William III and Queen Mary II, this college also the very first to have a Greek society—Phi Beta Kappa. Business, Political Science, Health and Fitness education, Biology, and Psychology are the five most popular majors on campus. W&M sports the colors green and gold.

9. Washington and Lee University

  • Flickr user Robert of Fairfax

    Location: Lexington, VA

  • Student Enrollment: 2,160
  • College Type: Private

The motto Non Incautus Futuri” translates to “Not unmindful of the future,” an apt phrase since the school was partially named after a very forward thinking historical figure: George Washington. The second part of this school’s name comes from Robert E. Lee, who was president of the school for 5 years.

8. Wellesley College

A member of the original Seven Sisters Colleges, Wellesley is a women’s school that was chartered back in 1870 (though classes didn’t start until five years later). For every 7 students, Wellesley has 1 faculty member. Economics and Biology are the two most popular majors on campus.

7. Rice University

  • Flickr user Jill Ellwanger

    Location: Houston, TX

  • Student Enrollment: 6,855
  • College Type: Private

Three owls are on Rice’s seal, and their mascot is named Sammy the Owl. With such a wise symbol, it’s no surprise that Rice has impressive academics. Incoming freshman score, on average, between 33–35 on the ACT and 1500–1580 on the SAT. Of the total student enrollment, 57% are undergraduates.

6. Dartmouth College

  • Flickr user Dennis Yang

    Location: Hanover, NH

  • Student Enrollment: 6,409
  • College Type: Private

Dartmouth’s Latin school motto, “Vox clamantis in deserto”, translates to mean “A voice crying out into the wilderness.” It has a 7:1 student-to-faculty ratio, and a 4 year graduation rate of 86%. Of the total students at Dartmouth, 67% are undergraduates, while the remaining 33% are graduate students.

5. Brown University

  • Flickr user thurdl01

    Location: Providence, RI

  • Student Enrollment: 9,781
  • College Type: Private

As an Ivy League school, it should come as no surprise that admittance is very selective. Of the over 30,000 applications received, Brown will admit only 8% of them. Additionally, average ACT and SAT scores are impressive, between 31–35 and 1420–1570 respectively. Fitting its name, one of the official school colors is brown, the other two are cardinal and white.

4. Williams College

  • Flickr user Peter Rintels

    Location: Williamstown, MA

  • Student Enrollment: 2,150
  • College Type: Private

The purple and gold-wearing athletic teams at Williams College are cheered on by an interesting mascot—the Purple Cow. On average, incoming freshmen score between 31 and 35 on the ACT, and between 1420 and 1570 on the SAT. With an acceptance rate of 15%, Williams College admits nearly 1,300 students annually.

3. United States Naval Academy

  • Flickr user Butch Dalisay

    Location: Annapolis, MD

  • Student Enrollment: 4,528
  • College Type: Public

“Ex Scientia Tridens” translated to “From knowledge, seapower” is an apt school motto for this naval academy. Around 1,300 students are admitted each year. Several different engineering fields are popular majors on campus, including System Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Ocean Engineering, and Aerospace / Aeronautical / Astronautical Engineering.

2. California Institute of Technology

  • Flickr user Eric Chan

    Location: Pasadena, CA

  • Student Enrollment: 2,240
  • College Type: Private

7,339 undergraduate applications were sent in last year, but this school is quite selective, only accepting 587—for an acceptance rate of 8%. Orange and white are the classic colors of CalTech. There is an impressive number of distinguished alumni, including 72 Nobel laureates, 6 Turing Award winners, and 71 have won the US National Medal of Science and Technology.

1. Princeton University

  • Flickr user Kah-Wai Lin

    Location: Princeton, NJ

  • Student Enrollment: 8,181
  • College Type: Private

Princeton is one of the most well-known universities in the country, and for good reason. Several alumni have gone on to become impressive leaders in their fields, including: Alan Turing, Jimmy Stewart, Michelle Obama, and Sonia Sotomayor. As an Ivy League school, it’s not surprising that Princeton has a low acceptance rate of only 6%.

About our methodology

Colleges are ranked based on a combination of factors, including graduation rates, campus diversity, endowment per student, and other data as reported via the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) for the most recently-available enrollment year. Some colleges may have been excluded from rankings based on certain criteria, including specialization and classification. Learn about our full methodology.

Interested in any of these schools? Check out College Raptor’s free match tool to see if they’re a good fit for you!

College Raptor Staff

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