The goal of College Raptor’s Hidden Gems is to put the spotlight on amazing schools that are sometimes overlooked. With that in mind, these designations are based on College Raptor’s overall national rankings as well as the number of factors unique to the Hidden Gems lists.

This year, the lists include Hidden Gem schools organized by state and by region. New 2021 lists include Hidden Gems with Alternate Tuition Plans, Hidden Gems for with Tuition Under $25K, Rural Hidden Gems, and Urban Hidden Gems!

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

  • Receive fewer than 5,000 applications a year
  • Have fewer than 7,000 undergraduate students enrolled
  • Have an acceptance rate higher than 10%

College Raptor’s overall national rankings are based on an analysis of data about the school’s selectivity, financial health, academic rigor, and student success. We’ve outlined our full methodology at https://www.collegeraptor.com/find-colleges/articles/college-comparisons/college-raptor-best-colleges-ranking-methodology/

This year the Hidden Gems lists were inspired by COVID-19’s effect on higher education. Students are rethinking where they want to go to college, with many opting to stay closer to home–hence our Urban and Rural lists. Additionally, cost always plays a big factor, and that’s why we created both the Alternate Tuition Plan and Tuition Under $25K lists.

Hidden Gem Colleges in the US | 2021 Rankings

Sometimes the best things are hidden in plain sight. That’s true for colleges as well. The best college for you might be one you haven’t heard of before! That’s why we wanted to celebrate schools that could be considered underrated colleges, or as we like to call them, Hidden Gems. This list in particular highlights …

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Hidden Gem Colleges in New England | 2021 Rankings

The New England area is known for many things — history, beautiful landscapes, and amazing colleges. However, not all New England schools get the hype they deserve. That’s why we wanted to point out some of the Hidden Gems in the area. For a school to be considered a Hidden Gem, it must meet the …

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Hidden Gem Colleges in the Mid-East US | 2021 Rankings

The Mid-East, also known as the Mid-Atlantic, region of the US has many claims to fame. Chief among them, American history and fantastic household name colleges. But what about the lesser-known Mid-Atlantic colleges? There are a number of amazing schools that deserve the spotlight, which is why we’re highlighting them here. To qualify as a …

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Hidden Gem Colleges in the Southeast US | 2021 Rankings

What do you think about when you hear “the Southeast?” Is it southern hospitality? Comfort food? Warm weather? Well, what about fantastic Southeast colleges? While there are certainly powerhouse colleges in the Southeast, there is also a multitude of great schools that fly a bit under the radar. That’s why we wanted to bring them …

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Hidden Gem Colleges in the Plains Region | 2021 Rankings

Don’t underestimate America’s heartland. It’s home to a number of incredible colleges, including some you might not have heard about before. This list aims to highlight Great Plains colleges. To qualify as a Hidden Gem, a school must meet the following requirements: Receive fewer than 5,000 applications Have fewer than 7,000 undergraduate students Have an …

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Hidden Gem Colleges in the Great Lakes Region | 2021 Rankings

The aptly named Great Lakes are so mighty that they get an entire region of the US named after them. While the area is clearly well-known for its water features, some of that attention should be turned to small but powerful Great Lakes colleges that call the region home. States include Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, …

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Hidden Gem Colleges in the Rocky Mountains | 2021 Rankings

The Rocky Mountain Range spans over 3,000 miles from New Mexico to northern British Columbia in Canada. There are a lot of Rocky Mountain colleges in that area that are as mighty as the mountains themselves. States included in the Rocky Mountain region are as follows: Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Utah, and Wyoming. To qualify as …

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Hidden Gem Colleges in the Southwest | 2021 Rankings

Deserts, plateaus, sprawling cities, and canyons, mesas, and more make up the rugged Southwestern landscape. Many of the colleges in the area are as excellent as the geography is dynamic. We wanted to highlight some of the lesser-known Southwest colleges that deserve attention. For this list, we’re including the following states as part of the …

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Hidden Gem Colleges in the Far West | 2021 Rankings

There is perhaps no region in the US more diverse than the Far West. There are snowy mountain ranges, rainy coasts, sunny beaches, tropical forests, broad deserts, and more. In addition to a variety of landscapes, the Far West is home to a variety of colleges. We wanted to highlight some of the small but …

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Top 25 Best Hidden Gem Colleges with Alternate Tuition Plans | 2021 Rankings

There is a multitude of ways to pay for college—savings plans, scholarships, grants, work-study programs, loans, etc. But did you know there are alternate tuition plans too? Some colleges offer more than just the standard payment plan. In fact, there are three main alternates—Prepaid Tuition, Tuition Guarantee, and Tuition Payment. Not all colleges provide them, …

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Top 25 Best Hidden Gem Colleges with Tuition Under $25K | 2021 Rankings

The cost of college is a hot topic in the news, politics, and households around America—especially right now, during a pandemic and a shifting educational landscape. Many are searching for low tuition colleges. According to Educationaldata.org, in the 2019-2020 school year, a 4-year out of state college had an average tuition of $26,820. Private colleges, …

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Top 25 Best Urban Hidden Gem Colleges | 2021 Rankings

Cities are known for many great things—incredible architecture, art scenes, performances, industries, diverse populations, and amazing history. Many are also known for incredible urban colleges. But in the hustle and bustle of the city, some things can get glanced over instead of explored. That’s why we created this list highlighting some amazing urban colleges. To …

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The Top 25 Best Rural Hidden Gem Colleges | 2021 Rankings

If you prefer space and a more relaxed atmosphere to the hustle and bustle of a big city, a rural college might be ideal for you. Many of the best college towns are located in rural settings and many of them have a strong sense of community among their students. Additionally, given the current pandemic, …

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