Sometimes the best college for a student is one you haven’t even heard of. 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 2020 lists include Hidden Gems for Teaching, Hidden Gems for Nursing, Hidden Gems in the City, and Hidden Gems with the Lowest Average Federal Loan Debt!

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

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 here.

This year the Hidden Gems lists have come out alongside our Best Colleges Rankings so that students and families can learn about the vast array of schools they may not have previously considered, or even known about!

Hidden Gems in the US | 2020 Rankings

US Hidden Gems Badge

Ever heard the phrase ‘Great things can come in small packages’? Colleges don’t have to be massive or well-known to be special. That’s why we wanted to highlight the hidden gems in the US.  College Raptor is dedicated to helping students find colleges that fit them financially, socially, and academically–which means looking at more than …

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Hidden Gems in the Northwest | 2020 Rankings

Northwest Hidden Gems Badge

Ah, the Northwest. Known for innovative ideas, beautiful landscapes, diverse geography, and interesting culture. Another thing to add to that list: great schools of all sizes. While many of the Northwest schools have recognizable names, there are many good Northwest schools that aren’t quite as well known. That’s why we wanted to highlight some! For …

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Hidden Gems in the Northeast | 2020 Rankings

Northeast Hidden Gems Badge

The Northeast region of the United States is known as a powerhouse for amazing colleges. But under the shadow of so many historic and big name schools, some fall by the wayside. So we wanted to highlight some incredible Hidden Gem colleges located in the Northeast. For the purposes of this list, we’ve included the …

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Hidden Gems in the Midwest | 2020 Rankings

Midwest Hidden Gems Badge

Like the schools featured here, the Midwest is an often overlooked region of the United States. Much more than flyover country, the Midwest is home to bustling industry, vital farms, friendly people, and some of the best colleges.  For the purposes of this list, we’ve included the following states as part of the Midwest region: …

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Hidden Gems in the Southeast | 2020 Rankings

Southeast Hidden Gems Badge

The Southeast portion of the US is known for a great many things—history, great food, and hospitality among them. But what doesn’t get quite as much attention are the great schools in the Southeast. So we wanted to highlight those schools that might be overlooked at first glance, but deserve recognition.  For the purposes of …

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Hidden Gems in the Southwest | 2020 Rankings

Southwest Hidden Gems Badge

You’ll find diverse landscapes, interesting weather, wild history, and plenty of tourist destinations in the Southwest part of the United States. Know what else you’ll find if you look hard enough? Great colleges. Let’s put the spotlight on some Southwest schools you may not have heard of, but definitely should know about! For the purposes …

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Hidden Gems in the City | 2020 Rankings

City Hidden Gems Badge

Sometimes the very best things are hidden away in plain sight. That sentiment applies to certain colleges as well. While many students are drawn to attend schools in larger cities, it is great to have a smaller community to call home. And that’s why we wanted to highlight some truly special schools that are located …

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Hidden Gems with the Lowest Average Federal Student Loan Debt | 2020 Rankings

Lowest Student Debt Hidden Gems Badge

No one will deny that college is expensive. College Raptor is dedicated to showing students and their families affordable college options. As part of that mission, we wanted to highlight schools where students had the lowest average of federal student loan debt!  In this list, we’ve ranked schools by the lowest average federal student loan …

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Hidden Gems for Teaching | 2020 Rankings

Teaching Hidden Gems Badge Hidden gems for teaching - colleges with teaching programs

Education activist Malala Yousafzai said, “Let us remember: One book, one pen, and one teacher can change the world.” If that’s the case, what can over 1.5 million teachers change? That’s how many elementary school teachers are expected to be employed in 2026. Not to mention the 1.1 million secondary, or 259,000 post-secondary school teachers. …

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Hidden Gems for Nursing | 2020 Rankings

Nursing Hidden Gems Badge Hidden gems - best colleges for nursing

Did you know that nursing is one of the fastest growing careers out there? In fact, by 2026 the career is estimated to employ nearly 1.7 million nurses! It’s certainly a noble career path, so it’s no surprise that it’s a very popular college major. There are many colleges with amazing nursing programs, but we …

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