Most Athletic Hidden Gems | 2019

Most Athletic Hidden Gems

A big part of the collective college experience revolves around athletics. There’s nothing quite like rooting for your team along with fellow classmates, wearing your school’s colors, and cheering with school spirit.

We wanted to highlight some of the most active colleges out there, so we created this list: the most athletic hidden gem schools, featuring the schools with the highest percentage of the overall student body participating in sports.

To qualify as a College Raptor Hidden Gem, a school must have the following requirements:

  • Receive fewer than 5,000 applications a year
  • Have fewer than 7,000 undergraduate students enrolled

Here are the top ten most athletic schools!

10. Newberry College – 54.67%

  • Most Athletic Hidden Gems - Newberry College

    Wikimedia Commons user Bill Fitzpatrick

    Location: Newberry, SC

  • Student Enrollment: 1,070
  • College Type: Private

Newberry College helps each student with personal and intellectual development, while also helping them find the right career. A liberal arts college found on 90 acres of historic land, nearly 55% of students participate in athletics such as football, baseball, soccer, and wrestling. Newberry College is also considered one of the most diverse schools in the state and Southeast area.

9. Tabor College – 55.43%

  • Most Athletic Hidden Gems - Tabor College

    Wikimedia Commons user JonHarder

    Location: Hillsboro, KS

  • Student Enrollment: 727
  • College Type: Private

A fairly selective school, only accepting about 53% of applicants, Tabor College recently installed a new stadium that seats 3,000. Used for football, soccer, track and field, over 55% of students participate in varsity sports at the school. A majority of students choose to study either nursing or business administration.

8. Alderson Broaddus University – 55.8%

  • Most Athletic Hidden Gems - Alderson Broaddus University

    Wikimedia Commons user Valerius Tygert

    Location: Philippi, WV

  • Student Enrollment: 1,052
  • College Type: Private

“From the darkness into the light” is Alderson Broaddus University’s motto and the 170 acre campus is rich in history, including the Phillippi Covered Bridge which was used in battle during the Civil War. The university has a state-of-the-art football stadium, which is also used for other sports, an arena for swimming, tennis courts, and more. Only 41% of students are accepted to Alderson Broaddus University and nearly 56% of those attending will participate in a varsity sport.

7. Finlandia University – 54.41%

  • Most Athletic Hidden Gems - Finlandia University

    Flickr user mollyali

    Location: Hancock, MI

  • Student Enrollment: 507
  • College Type: Private

Founded by Finnish immigrants, Finlandia University traces its 1896 roots back to Suomi College. The name Finlandia University was adopted recently in 2000. A highly selective school (only 36% of applicants are accepted), a good number of students participate in athletics while attending. Over half of the 507 students take part in ice hockey, volleyball, softball, football, and other sports.

6. Emmanuel College (GA) – 57.17%

  • Most Athletic Hidden Gems - Emmanuel College (GA)

    Flickr user Martin LaBar (Note: Image is of Franklin Springs, not EC)

    Location: Franklin Springs, GA

  • Student Enrollment: 920
  • College Type: Private

Originally two hotels and a skating rink, Emmanuel College brings faith and education together and is affiliated with the International Pentecostal Holiness Church. The college has an extensive athletic program with 57% of the 920 students competing as the Lions. Emmanuel College is rather selective, only accepting 43% of students. However, nearly 50% of students who are accepted go on to attend the college.

5. Bethany College (WV) – 57.21%

  • Most Athletic Hidden Gems - Bethany College (WV)

    Wikimedia Commons user Nyttend

    Location: Bethany, WV

  • Student Enrollment: 680
  • College Type: Private

A liberal arts school that was founded in 1840, Bethany College is one of the oldest colleges in West Virginia. The athletic teams call themselves the Bison after the Buffalo Seminary from 1818 that was the inspiration for the college. Almost 94% of students who apply are accepted and many go on to study Social Work, Speech Communication, Psychology, or Physical Education Teaching and Coaching.

4. York College – 60.85%

  • Most Athletic Hidden Gems - York College

    Wikimedia Commons user Ammodramus (Note: Image is of York, not York College)

    Location: York, NE

  • Student Enrollment: 424
  • College Type: Private

York College tends to be selective when accepting students. Out of 530 applications, only 254 were accepted last year. Sitting on 50 acres of land, the school has the Clayton Museum of Ancient History and a 35,000 square foot athletics facility. Over 60% of students participate as Panthers where they compete in the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference.

3. Kansas Wesleyan University – 64.75%

  • Most Athletic Hidden Gems - Kansas Wesleyan University

    Wikimedia Commons user Daniel Bethe

    Location: Salina, KS

  • Student Enrollment: 766
  • College Type: Private

Kansas Wesleyan University aims to help every student explore their interests, the community, and the world. When it comes to sports, many students are proud to call themselves a Coyote (nearly 65%). Some of the popular teams include football, track, and soccer, but softball, bowling, tennis and more are also available. Many students go on to study Business Administration, Kinesiology, or Criminal Justice.

2. Ottawa University – Ottawa – 70.66%

  • Most Athletic Hidden Gems - Ottawa University - Ottawa

    Wikimedia Commons user bhall87

    Location: Ottawa, KS

  • Student Enrollment: 685
  • College Type: Private

With 484 athletes on campus, over 70% of students participate in one varsity sport or another at Ottawa University’s Ottawa campus. The school boasts the oldest student newspaper in the state and has the motto “Veritas vos liberabit” or The Truth Will Set You Free. Ottawa University has an 80% acceptance rate and while many students are from Kansas, others come from all over the United States including Hawaii, California, and New York.

1. Bethany College (KS) – 75.87%

  • Most Athletic Hidden Gems - Bethany College (KS)

    Wikimedia Commons user Swampyank

    Location: Lindsborg, KS

  • Student Enrollment:  721
  • College Type: Private

Over 75% of Bethany College’s student body participates in athletics (547 students out of 721). Known as the Terrible Swedes, the school was founded by Swedish immigrants in 1881. The school accepts about 67% of applicants and most students go on to study Biology, Health and Physical Education, or Business Management.

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!

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