3. Lehigh University (Bethlehem, PA)
Lehigh University, a school of a little more than 5,000 undergraduate students, was founded by a businessman and industrialist who was looking for more people educated in science and technology who could carry out innovative research in the 1860s.
Today, the school is still well-known for its sciences, math, computer science, technology, engineering, and business programs. But don’t discount the arts. Lehigh, due in part to its short distance from New York, Philadelphia, and Washington, also pulls talented musical and theater students.
Greek life is popular on campus — approximately one-third of students are members of a sorority or fraternity — and the school has more than 200 student organizations. Community service is also important, with students collecting more than 65,000 hours per year.
Lehigh has produced some impressive alumni, too. They include Pulitzer Prize winners, Fulbright Fellows, and Medal of Science winners.
2. The University of the South (Sewanee) (Sewanee, TN)
Located amongst the mountains and forest, the University of the South sits between Nashville and Chattanooga and is home to a little more than 1,700 undergraduate students, making it one of the smallest schools on our list.
Sewanee is an Episcopal school, and its values show throughout campus. In “Hidden Ivies,” Howard and Matthew Greene describe the historical All Saints’ Chapel as the focal point of campus. Its school of theology attracts graduate students, and the campus offers a number of optional religious on-campus programs, like Bible studies and small groups.
Sewanee prides itself on its tight-knit community. Nearly all of its students live on campus, which is called the Domain. The 13,000 acres allow students to conduct scientific research, study the environment, and even go hiking and rafting.
The school offers 36 majors, ranging from earth and environmental systems to medieval studies to music. The School of Letters is particularly well known. It houses the university’s English and creative writing programs. In fact, Sewanee is home of the “Sewanee Review,” which is the country’s oldest continuously published literary journal.
According to “Hidden Ivies,” Sewanee is one of the top producers for Rhodes Scholars and has had plenty of Watson and Fulbright Scholars, too. Additionally, 96 percent of graduates who apply to law or medical schools after graduation are accepted.
1. Southern Methodist University (Dallas, TX)
Southern Methodist University, situated just outside of Dallas, is home to more than 6,000 undergraduate students and nearly as many graduate students, making it the largest school on this list.
Just because it’s the largest doesn’t mean is sacrifices quality. This year it was ranked No. 64 in national universities by U.S. News & World Report. Additionally, U.S. News & World Report ranked it the second top school in Texas, of more than 300 colleges and universities.
One of the most impressive parts of SMU is its extensive list of notable alumni. They include Laura Bush, former First Lady of Texas and the United States; a number of award-winning actors, including Brian Baumgartner or “Kevin” from “The Office;” Blake Mycoskie, the founder of TOMS; John Tyson, the chair of Tyson Foods; and Whitney Wolfe Herd, the founder and CEO of Bumble and co-founder of Tinder.
This is good news for current students, too, who can network with these powerful graduates. In fact, the Princeton Review ranked SMU No. 6 for internship opportunities and No. 13 for its alumni network. SMU’s motto sums it up perfectly: World Changers Shaped Here.