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, and Wisconsin.

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 acceptance rate higher than 10%

Here are the best Hidden Gem Great Lakes colleges.

ILLINOIS

Wheaton College was once a stop on the Underground Railroad. Today, the college has a student body of almost 3,000 attendees. Incoming students have a typical ACT score between 26 to 32 and an SAT score between 1,250 to 1,450. Popular majors at the college include Business/Managerial Economics, Speech Communications, and Health Services.
Location Wheaton, IL
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 2,944
Green and white are the official colleges of the Illinois Wesleyan University Titans. The highest degree offered at IWU is the bachelor’s degree, which is why there are only undergraduates on campus. The school does not require an application fee for prospective students. Alums of IWU have gone on to become politicians, activists, pro athletes, composers, and singers.
Location Bloomington, IL
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 1,693
99% of the students who attend Principia College receive some form of institutional aid to help pay the cost of college. The school has a cozy 6:1 student-to-faculty ratio and an 88% first-year retention rate. Blue and gold are Principia’s school colors, which student athletes wear while competing as the Principia Panthers.
Location Elsah, IL
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 447

INDIANA

For students who want to focus on engineering, science, or math, take a look at the Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology. The institute only offers majors in those three areas, with the most popular ones being Mechanical Engineering, Chemical Engineering, and Computer Science. Almost all students attending receive some form of grant or institutional aid.
Location Terre Haute, IN
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 2,142
DePauw University was founded in 1837 and has since had a long and colorful history. It was the birthplace of the Society of Professional Journalists, the oldest journalist society in the US. DePauw’s academic calendar is a bit unique -- it runs on a 4-1-4-1 system, with a fall and spring semester and a winter and May semester.
Location Greencastle, IN
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 2,156
Wabash College was established in 1832 and is an all-men’s school. The college offers around 20 majors -- some of the more popular ones include Economics, Rhetoric, and History. To graduate from Wabash, students take a three-day comprehensive exam, consisting of written and oral tests. The average student-to-faculty ratio is 10 to 1.
Location Crawfordsville, IN
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 882

MICHIGAN

96% of students at Hillsdale receive some form of institutional aid and 96% of students receive some form of grant aid. Around 1,500 students attend the college, which means that class sizes are also relatively small -- typical classes have about 9 students to every 1 faculty member. Hillsdale’s highest degree offered is the doctoral degree.
Location Hillsdale, MI
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 1,521
Known as K College or even just K, Kalamazoo’s highest degree offered is the bachelor’s, which is why there are only undergraduates on campus. 98% of students receive institutional aid to help cover the cost of attendance. Kalamazoo has a 4-year graduation rate of 76% and a student-to-faculty ratio of 13:1.
Location Kalamazoo, MI
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 1,467
Around 3,700 students apply to the college annually. Students who are accepted and decide to enroll typically have an ACT score between 23 to 29 and an SAT score between 1,140 to 1,350. Popular majors at Hope College include Business Administration and Management, Psychology, and Registered Nursing.
Location Holland, MI
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 3,149

OHIO

As an institute of music, CIM has a very focused selection of majors -- Music Performance and Music Theory, primarily. Entry into this school isn’t easy, since it has an acceptance rate of 37%. Of the students who do make it in, 98% of them receive institutional aid to help pay for college. The student to faculty ratio is a tight-knit 5:1.
Location Cleveland, OH
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 402
Originally known as the College of Steubenville, the school was officially recognized as a university in 1980 and changed its name in 1986. Around 3,000 students currently attend the university and the student-to-faculty ratio is 15 to 1. Almost a quarter of the freshmen class are from Ohio. 86% of the first-year class return for their second year.
Location Steubenville, OH
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 3,028
Cedarville University was established in 1894, though classes were already being held since 1892. Today, over 4,100 students attend the university, many of whom major in subjects such as Registered Nursing, Mechanical Engineering, and Industrial & Product Design. Incoming students typically score between 23 to 29 on the ACT and between 1,140 to 1,360 on the SAT.
Location Cedarville, OH
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 4,150

WISCONSIN

Having opened its doors in 1849, Lawrence University was the second American college to become fully coeducational. Around 3,400 students send in an application to the university every year. Students who were accepted typically scored between 25 to 32 on the ACT and 1,220 to 1,460 on the SAT. Around 85% of all freshmen return to Lawrence University for their sophomore year.
Location Appleton, WI
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 1,463
Founded initially as Deaconess Sanitarium Training School for Nurses in 1909, the school underwent numerous name changes before settling on Bellin College in 2009. It is a private medical school that offers only three major programs -- Registered Nursing, Radiologic Technology, and Diagnostic Medical Sonography.
Location Green Bay, WI
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 477
Founded in 1846, Beloit College is the oldest college in Wisconsin -- in fact, the school was established before Wisconsin was recognized as a state. Over 3,600 students apply annually and the college accepts around 62% of all applicants. 98% of students receive some form of institutional aid. Anthropology is the most popular major.
Location Beloit, WI
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 1,275

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

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.

Related Articles

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Subscribe!