These 10 Colleges Are Higher Education’s Best Kept Secrets

When it comes to researching colleges, it’s easy to gravitate toward the classic top-ranking lists. After all, who doesn’t want to go to a “top” or “best” school?

But the truth is, sticking to these types of mainstream lists could cause you to miss out on some hidden gems. That’s why we put together a list of colleges we consider “best kept secrets.”

So what makes a school a best kept secret?

For one, all schools on this particular list are liberal arts colleges.

Secondly, you won’t find any of these in the most recent list of US News & World Report’s top-70 liberal arts colleges.

Second, these are schools with proven track records. They have successful programs, exhaustive lists accomplished students and alumni, and a number of noteworthy faculty members.

So, before you restrict your college search to the typical “best of” lists, here are College Gazette’s picks for the top 10 best kept secrets in higher education:

10. Linfield College (McMinnville, OR)

photo by DerRichter via Wikimedia Commons

Linfield College is about an hour’s drive from Portland, and it offers students a host of opportunities to get involved. On campus, you’ll find more than 50 clubs and organizations, including Esports Club, Flow Arts Club, and Hawaiian Club.

The college also offers a number of sports (Go Wildcats!). In fact, Linfield has the longest streak of consecutive winning seasons across all levels of college football — 64 seasons to be exact. For those interested in performing arts, there are 14 musical groups on campus and a popular theater program.

In the classroom, Linfield promotes collaborative research, creative projects, internships, community service, and study abroad programs. It offers a wide range of liberal arts majors, too, from digital art to international relations to wine studies (seriously!).

9. Moravian College (Bethlehem, PA)

If you haven’t heard of Moravian College, a private liberal arts college in eastern Pennsylvania, then you’re missing out. It’s actually the sixth-oldest college in the country. Perhaps more interesting, it was established by a 16-year-old girl named Benigna von Zinzendorf in 1742.

And despite other colleges trying to snag this title, Moravian College was the first college to accept women. It was also the first college to accept Native Americans and offer classes in their own language.

Today, the college is no longer only a female seminary school, and it’s merged with its male counterpart to form Moravian College. It hosts a little more than 2,000 students, and its most popular majors include health sciences, business, sociology, psychology, and biological sciences.

And while Moravian College is rich with history, it’s also embracing the future. It gives each student an Apple MacBook Pro and iPad when they accept their offer to the school, so everyone can start their freshman year on equal ground.

It also wants students to be included in big decisions pertaining to the college. In addition to having a student government, it goes one step further and elects two students to its board of trustees. These students serve two-year terms, representing the student body and voting on important matters.

Oh, and its mascot is Mo, a rescued racing greyhound, who hangs out on the school’s dog-friendly campus.


  1. My daughter graduated from the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma Washington several years ago. She is now working on her PhD in Neuroscience at the University of Washington in Seattle. She receives a stipend and does not pay tuition. She loved her college years at UPS!

  2. I am delighted that Drew University has made your list! However, as Drew’s University Archivist, I also have to point out that _Thomas_ Gibbons, William Gibbons’s father, was the winning party in Gibbons v. Ogden.

  3. There are hundreds of colleges all over the United states that are also just as good as the 10 above. For example…New Jersey City University in Jersey City NJ, excellent education at an affordaable price tag. I was able to get my BA and then my Masters degree while NEVER having to take out student loans. I’m at the top of my field in the educational system and never felt better about the employment opportunities affored to me by excellent teachers in both programs. Part of what made this school so affordable is that I was able to commute from home and not have to pay for room and board, a win for anyone that wants to graduate without student loan debt over their head!


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