3. Elon University (Elon, NC)
Elon University was originally affiliated with the United Church of Christ and only accepted residents of North Carolina, but quickly grew to have a reputation as a highly-selective nationally-known university.
When the university decided to open itself up to residents of any state in the 1970s, they set very high standards for admission. This change resulted in a rigorous university with multiple schools including the Martha and Spencer Love School of Business and Elon University School of Law.
Although it is no longer affiliated with the church, the university embraces the idea that education should nurture the mind, body, and spirit.
Today, their diverse student body can participate in any number of religious organizations, including Hillel: The Jewish Foundation for Campus Life and a Muslim Student Association. In addition, the Interfaith Youth Core works to bring together people of all faiths for open dialogue. Both Jewish and Hindu students report that the campus goes the extra mile when it comes to accommodating for religious holidays.
The university boasts notable alumni in academia, sports, politics, and business, including NASCAR driver Ward Burton and Rich Blomquist, an Emmy Award-winning writer for The Daily Show.
2. South Georgia State College (Douglas, GA)
South Georgia State College began as an agriculture school in Douglas, GA in 1908. Many buildings on campus now hold a status on the National Register of Historic Places.
Students say that this college is good for local students who don’t want to be bogged down by a lot of student loan debt.
The college once only offered two year degrees, but now they have expanded to include many four year bachelor’s degrees as well. They even have on-campus housing for students who wish to live away from home.
As part of the school’s safety initiative, they provide literature and videos on their website on everything from sexual assault to human trafficing. Students are encouraged to educate themselves about common safety concerns on college campuses.
Children’s author Doris Buchanan Smith graduated from South Georgia State. She later went on to publish 17 children’s books, including the award-winning A Taste of Blackberries.
1. Lincoln Memorial University (Harrogate, TN)
Lincoln Memorial University was named after President Abraham Lincoln, and therefore holds a large collection of materials related to Lincoln and the Civil War.
It is known for its literary legacy, with graduates including authors James Still and Don West, among others.
In 2005, author-in-residence Silas House started the Mountain Heritage Literary Festival, an annual celebration of Appalachian literature.
The university also runs a college preparatory school called J. Frank White Academy, where students in kindergarten through grade 12 can take college prep courses as well as dual credit courses at Lincoln Memorial University.
Graduates of this school include well-known bluegrass musicians, Appalachian writers, and professional athletes.
All colleges on this list have succeeded in creating small, safe learning environments in which studies can study and grow.
Their unique approaches to student life and classroom instruction has also led to many successful graduates in diverse career fields such as politics, science, education, and acting.