These 10 Colleges Are Higher Education’s Best Kept Secrets

8. Westmont College (Santa Barbara, CA)

Westmont isn’t the name of some wealthy founder or land donor. It’s a bit more straightforward than that. It’s simply an ode to Westmont College’s location — a combination of “West” and “mountains.”

Here’s a quick historical tidbit: In 1925, an earthquake hit Santa Barbara, causing about $111 million worth of damage in today’s money. A man named Dwight Murphy helped rebuild the city, and Westmont College is housed, in part, on his former 125-acre estate. 

Today, you’ll find a combination of historical and modern buildings, nestled between the ocean and the mountains.

One thing that makes Westmont unique is its dedication to Christianity. It holds chapel three times a week and offers a number of student-led ministries, including Potter’s Clay, which sends students to Ensenada, Mexico, each year during spring break.

Westmont College’s graduates have ranked No. 23 on Forbes’ list of liberal arts colleges whose grads earn the highest salary upon graduation. It also landed itself a spot on Business Insider’s list of most underrated colleges in America. A true hidden gem!

7. Wheaton College (Norton, MA)

Wheaton College
Kenneth C. Zirkel, Mars Center for Science and Technology at Wheaton College, CC BY-SA 4.0

Wheaton College (Massachusetts) is not to be confused — and is in no relation to — Wheaton College (Illinois). This Wheaton College is a non-denominational liberal arts college tucked between Providence, Rhode Island, and Boston, Massachusetts.

The school offers more than 100 majors, and 97% of its alumni have graduated and moved on to full- or part-time jobs or are pursuing professional degrees. (For context, that’s one of the highest percentages on this list!)

Recent grads have gone on to become data analysts at Google, software engineers at Microsoft, and editorial assistants at Oxford University Press. For those who choose to attend graduate programs, the top-attended school is Harvard University.

In addition to academics and post-collegiate successes, students at Wheaton have fun on campus, too. About half participate in sports — varsity or recreational teams. There are a number of student clubs, too, including archery club, songwriting club, and even an improv comedy group.

The school doesn’t offer Greek life. Instead, you’ll find themed houses, which are designed to bring students who share a common interest together. These houses include the Art Haus, the Emerson Feminist Perspective House, the Outdoors House, and the Renaissance House, which focuses on representing women of color. You’ll find these houses situated throughout campus.

6. Stonehill College (Easton, MA)

Stonehill College
Kenneth C. Zirkel, Ames Estate aka Stonehill College, CC BY-SA 4.0

Stonehill College is located just a stone’s throw from Wheaton College, another school on this list, and, even if you haven’t heard of it, you might know of some of its notable alumni. The list includes Scott Thompson, former CEO of Yahoo and former president of PayPal; Duke Castiglione, former ESPN SportsCenter host; and Judith A. Salerno, President of the New York Academy of Medicine.

On campus, the private Catholic liberal arts college is well equipped to serve its students. In 2019, it unveiled its new Leo J. Meehan School of Business building, which includes a Bloomberg classroom, a capital markets room, and a simulated boardroom. Business students have plenty of opportunities to learn outside the classroom, too, with a number of internship, study abroad, research, and volunteer opportunities.

If you don’t want to study business, you’ll find the May School of Arts and Sciences, which houses a range of liberal arts degrees. Stonehill College’s engineering program is unique in that it offers a dual-degree program in partnership with the University of Notre Dame.

College Factual recently ranked Stonehill’s healthcare administration, criminology, and marketing programs as some of the best in the country.

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