These Are the 10 Best “Hidden Ivies” in the U.S.

7. University of Richmond (Richmond, VA)

photo by TrunkJunk via Wikimedia Commons

The University of Richmond, located in Virginia’s capital, is situated in a suburban area of Richmond and is home to a little more than 3,000 undergraduate students.

In “Hidden Ivies,” Howard and Matthew Greene note the school’s drastic change over the past couple of decades — transforming from a good regional school to a “top-tier, national, highly selective liberal arts university.” This is due, in part, to large donations that have allowed the school to pull talented faculty members and provide financial assistance to top students.

Like its mascot, the spider, the University of Richmond describes its students as curious, ambitious, and determined. Howard and Matthew Greene deem the university’s Jepson School of Leadership Studies the “jewel in the crown” of its academics. The first of its kind, the program prepares students to become leaders in all areas of society.

The University of Richmond also places an emphasis on getting outside the classroom. In fact, as a part of “The Richmond Guarantee,” each student is guaranteed a fellowship for a summer of research or internship. Additionally, more than 65 percent of students study abroad.


6. Colgate University (Hamilton, NY)

photo by Colgate University via Wikimedia Commons

Colgate University, home to nearly 3,000 undergraduate students, is situated in rural Hamilton, New York. In “Hidden Ivies,” Colgate is described as “a self-contained community of smart, physically active, socially engaged students who can thrive on its beautiful campus.”

Colgate is well-known for its professors. The school’s student-to-faculty ratio is a mere 9:1. It pulls impressive scholars from every field. In fact, 96 percent of its faculty members have a Ph.D. or the highest degree in their field.

Additionally, Colgate encourages undergraduate research in every major, and it also offers off-campus and international study options, like faculty-led study groups held around the world.

In regards to academics, Colgate sticks to the more classic core curriculum. All students are required to complete certain courses before the end of their sophomore years. These include scientific perspectives of the world, challenges of modernity, and communities and identities. Each course is designed to help students develop the skills and habits they need to complete their four years.


5. Macalester College (St. Paul, MN)

photo by Evenjk via Wikimedia Commons

Macalester College is unique in that it’s a selective, undergraduate-only liberal arts college located not in a small town but a large Midwestern metropolitan area. This gives its students ample opportunities to take part in community service projects and internships.

In “Hidden Ivies,” Howard and Matthew Greene quote one student who said, “Macalester benefits from a combination of big-city resources and everything that is great about a small liberal arts college — small classes, a sense of community, professors deeply committed to teaching.”

Macalester is also committed to supporting multiculturalism and creating a global community. Nearly one-third of the student body is comprised of students of color, and 24 percent of students are citizens of another country, representing 97 countries.

The school’s Civic Engagement Center encourages student activism. It brings students, faculty members, and local partners together to work on projects aimed at creating a more just and sustainable community.

From “Hidden Ivies,” students describe the school as progressive, international, engaged, rigorous, diverse, activist-oriented, and friendly.


4. Colorado College (Colorado Springs, CO)

photo by Greverod via Wikimedia Commons

Colorado College, a liberal arts college of about 2,000 undergraduate students, is perfectly set amongst the Rocky Mountains. The school’s acceptance rate for the class of 2013 was at just 13.5 percent, making it the most competitive on this list.

What makes the school truly stand out from others is its Block Plan. Rather than students taking multiple classes throughout the fall, spring, or summer semesters, Colorado College students take one class at a time for three-and-a-half weeks.

This Block Plan allows students to truly immerse themselves in a subject, rather than trying to juggle Shakespeare readings with math homework and biology labs. The same amount of material is covered in a block as it would be in a semester. Plus, students get four-and-a-half day “Block Breaks,” a time for them to recharge by hiking, skiing, mountain biking, volunteering, or taking a quick trip into Denver.

Colorado College isn’t one to fly under the radar, either. It’s recently snagged some state and national honors, including getting ranked as one of America’s Top Colleges of 2019 by Forbes, and it was voted the No. 3 most innovative liberal arts college by U.S. News & World Report.

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