Hidden Gems: The Best Colleges In Each State That Receive Fewer than 5,000 Applications Per Year

College Raptor aims to help students find their best fit colleges, academically, culturally, and financially. While big colleges can be a great fit for some students, others do better on smaller campuses. To bring attention to small colleges around the country, we’ve developed this map highlighting the top hidden gem college in each state.

In our analysis, we looked at every 4-year college in the U.S. and found the highest-ranked colleges (based on the College Raptor overall ranking, which includes factors like selectivity, graduation rate, average debt upon graduation and other factors) in each state which received fewer than 5,000 applications per year but had an enrollment of more than 1,000 students.

Here’s the map:


And a tabulation of the data:

State Institution College Raptor Rank
AL Samford University 317
AZ Arizona State University-Polytechnic 499
AR Hendrix College 215
CA Pitzer College 131
CO Regis University 435
CT Connecticut College 129
DE Wesley College 1514
FL Rollins College 263
GA Mercer University 481
HI Chaminade University of Honolulu 1127
ID The College of Idaho 408
IL Wheaton College 89
IN Taylor University 179
IA Grinnell College 55
KS Benedictine College 656
KY Centre College 125
LA Loyola University New Orleans 602
ME University of New England 612
MD St Mary’s College of Maryland 106
MA Wellesley College 25
MI Kalamazoo College 135
MN St Olaf College 92
MS William Carey University 755
MO Truman State University 234
MT Carroll College 585
NE Nebraska Wesleyan University 443
NV Nevada State College 1433
NH Saint Anselm College 219
NJ Stevens Institute of Technology 155
NM New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology 627
NY St Lawrence University 161
NC Davidson College 49
ND University of Mary 1050
OH Kenyon College 68
OK Oklahoma City University 555
OR Reed College 108
PA Haverford College 33
RI Rhode Island College 982
SC Wofford College 165
SD Augustana College 256
TN Sewanee-The University of the South 100
TX Trinity University 99
UT Westminster College 305
VT Saint Michael’s College 152
VA University of Mary Washington 259
WA Whitman College 81
WV Wheeling Jesuit University 761
WI Beloit College 172
WY University of Wyoming 690

Note: Each state is represented, with the exception of Alaska, which had no colleges that fit our criteria. Certain highly-specialized institutions were excluded from the list.

This post was edited at 11 AM CST, 5/28/2015 to include links to each college’s College Raptor profile

5 thoughts on “Hidden Gems: The Best Colleges In Each State That Receive Fewer than 5,000 Applications Per Year”

  1. James Clary says:

    Hard to think that VMI isn’t the best school in Virginia that receives less than 5,000 applications. It consistently ranks in non-US News & World Report Rankings as one of the best schools in Virginia, and consistently receives fewer than 2,000 applications.

  2. Michael says:

    I would’ve thought Furman would have appeared before Wofford in SC. Maybe they get more than 5k apps. I went to Rollins College in Florida my freshman year, which is a great school. Just very hard to focus!

  3. David says:

    Data must be old. Kenyon received more than 6500 applications for the class of 2018.

    1. Olivia Pittman says:

      Hi David,

      IPEDS data tends to lag by a year or more. Our most recent data is from the 2013 cycle, for which Kenyon received just over 4,000 applications.


  4. Craig Henderson says:

    William Carey is in Mississippi, not Missouri! Perhaps you’d consider Millsaps instead.

Comments are closed.

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