COLLEGES WORTH CONSIDERING

A year ago, in a column in this space [“Singing the Praises of Guidance Counselors”], I asked you to help me compile a list of colleges and universities that deserve bigger reputations. I called them the hidden gems, the lesser known jewels, the wallflower colleges that students fall in love with only after they get to know them. I hoped that readers would send the column to high school counselors or teachers they knew and ask them to send me names of colleges that their graduates rave about.

Below is the result of your efforts. Based on this very informal and unscientific survey I have put together a list of 100 schools that deserve more attention than they are getting.

This is, admittedly, a very fluid and idiosyncratic way to look at higher education. Reputations can change quickly. Schools that might have been on such a list a generation ago are now recognized to be first-class institutions that have nowhere near enough room for all the students who want to get in. Many schools listed below may soon find themselves in that situation, and some are there already. Colleges like Occidental and Grinnell have become so popular I was reluctant to include them here. But the counselors and teachers know more than I do. They say these schools are under-appreciated, so here they are.

I have ranked the 100 schools, but I would not put much stock in my order of merit. I did it mostly for fun. You can’t lure people into a friendly argument over which school is best unless you do some ranking. I have stacked them based on how often they were mentioned by counselors and teachers. I broke ties after assessing the fervor of the comments I received from the people I surveyed.

A complete account of this survey, with longer descriptions of each school, can be found in the appendix of my book, “Harvard Schmarvard: Getting Beyond the Ivy League to the College That Is Best for You.”

Please be assured that all 100 colleges below are excellent and deserve to be put on your own list if they offer something that pleases you. The April 6 Washington Post Magazine will have a top-20 mid-Atlantic version of this list including St. Mary’s College of Maryland, which just missed the top 100 nationally.

Anyone who writes about schools that rise above name recognition owes a debt to Alexandria resident Loren Pope, former New York Times education editor and college administrator and now one of our nation’s leading educational consultants and experts on college admission. His books, particularly Looking Beyond the Ivy League and Colleges That Change Lives, identify many schools that put teaching and character development ahead of public relations and high placement on the U.S. News and World Report list. Colleges That Change Lives names 40 schools, many of which appeared on the lists counselors and teachers sent me.

In your own journey through the world of American colleges and universities, you will find splendid schools that I have not mentioned. Please give them serious consideration, and then tell me about them. Here is my list of hidden gems:

At a Glance
Jay Mathews’s list of 100 colleges that deserve a second look:

  1. Elon University
  2. Earlham College
  3. Clark University
  4. College of Wooster
  5. Kalamazoo College
  6. Rhodes College
  7. Guilford College
  8. Occidental College
  9. Washington College
  10. Illinois Wesleyan University
  11. Trinity University
  12. Kenyon College
  13. Whitman College
  14. Grinnell College
  15. Wheaton College
  16. Dickinson College
  17. Christopher Newport University
  18. Truman State University
  19. Westminster College
  20. Loyola Marymount University
  21. Macalester College
  22. Hartwick College
  23. Goucher College
  24. Hendrix College
  25. Austin College
  26. Berry College
  27. St. Olaf College
  28. Bates College
  29. Allegheny College
  30. Davidson College
  31. Colorado College
  32. Gettysburg College
  33. Quinnipiac University
  34. Millsaps College
  35. Bard College
  36. York College of Pennsylvania
  37. Muhlenberg College
  38. Keene State College
  39. Ursinus College
  40. University of Puget Sound
  41. Spelman College
  42. St. Lawrence University
  43. St. John’s College
  44. Savannah College of Art and Design
  45. Wabash College
  46. University of Tampa
  47. Hope College
  48. Evergreen State College
  49. Centre College
  50. Mary Washington College
  51. Beloit College
  52. Bucknell University
  53. Depauw University
  54. Flagler College
  55. Ithaca College
  56. Johnson & Wales University
  57. Nazareth College of Rochester
  58. Western Carolina University
  59. University of Redlands
  60. Paul Smith’s College
  61. Saint Louis University
  62. Santa Clara University
  63. Western New England College
  64. University of Tulsa
  65. Lewis & Clark College
  66. Manhattanville College
  67. Willamette University
  68. Texas Christian University
  69. Birmingham-Southern College
  70. College of St. Scholastica
  71. University of the Pacific
  72. Lawrence University
  73. Agnes Scott College
  74. Berea College
  75. Augustana College
  76. Bowling Green State University
  77. Adelphi University
  78. University of Denver
  79. Hobart & William Smith College
  80. University of the South
  81. Xavier University of Louisiana
  82. St. Andrews Presbyterian University
  83. Saint Joseph’s College of Maine
  84. Seattle Pacific University
  85. Western Washington University
  86. Eckerd College
  87. Drew University
  88. Chapman University
  89. Alfred University
  90. Carroll College
  91. Loyola College in Maryland
  92. Knox College
  93. Miami University
  94. Samford University
  95. University of Scranton
  96. Randolph-Macon College
  97. Siena College
  98. Lambuth University
  99. Ohio University
  100. Dean College

  1. Elon University
    Elon, N.C.; www.elon.edu; 800-334-84480
    This campus of 4,160 undergraduates gets enthusiastic reviews. Alice T. Ledford works as a college placement counselor at the American International School in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, but she once was an administrator at Elon and thinks its standards of student service are remarkable. “It is an ideal place for students who want a supportive environment,” she said. “The student services staff provide many extracurricular activities and opportunities for service learning. It is the most amazing place with regard to dealing with student crises.” Sally O’Rourke, a counselor at Andover (Mass.) High School, said students who went to Elon thrived on its “emphasis on leadership, service, hands-on learning, and study abroad.” Mary Ann Willis, a college counselor at Bayside Academy in Daphne, Ala., complimented Elon’s “forward-looking” leadership that provides “a great setting and realistic notions about adolescents and education.”
  2. Earlham College
    Richmond, Ind.; www.earlham.edu; 800-327-5426
    This small school of slightly more than 1,000 undergraduates is on Pope’s list and has many admirers. Becky Handel, a counselor at Bishop Luers High School in Fort Wayne, Ind., said the college “is Quaker founded and adheres to the beliefs of the Quaker tradition. If you have a student who is bright, has perhaps underachieved in high school, and is not afraid to walk to the beat of a different drummer, from the heart, this is a wonderful jewel.”
  3. Clark University
    Worcester, Mass.; www.clarku.edu; 508-793-77110
    This institution of about 1,900 undergraduates has high quality, but still admits B students. Dory Streett, a high school counselor at the American School of Milan, said Clark is “one of the few small liberal arts colleges where a truly socially diverse student body co-exists harmoniously.” She said the school has “outstanding programs in geography and psychology.”
  4. College of Wooster
    Wooster, Ohio; www.wooster.edu; 330-263-2000
    The Presbyterian-affiliated school has 1,750 undergraduates and is known for its independent study program. The student-faculty ratio is very low, 11.5 to one. The 240-acre campus has a nine-hole golf course. Bruce Vinik, formerly director of college counseling at the Georgetown Day School, said this is “a very good liberal arts college that has a surprisingly eclectic and interesting student body.”
  5. Kalamazoo College
    Kalamazoo, Mich.; www.kzoo.edu; 800-253-3602
    The college has an unusual “K Plan” that combines classroom study, overseas travel, internships, and a senior thesis. Dory Streett, a high school counselor at the American School of Milan, said she was impressed that more than 85 percent of Kalamazoo students study abroad. The school also has an exceptional physics department, she said.
  6. Rhodes College
    Memphis, Tenn.; www.rhodes.edu; 901-843-3000
    Also on Pope’s list, the college is described by the Princeton Review’s The Best 345 Colleges as “one of the best kept secrets in higher education.” Richard James, education professor and coordinator of school counseling at the University of Memphis, described Rhodes as “a private college which costs a lot of money to go to” but “will give you a twenty megaton liberal education.”
  7. Guilford College
    Greensboro, N.C.; www.guilford.edu; 336-316-2000
    Located on a beautiful campus in central North Carolina, Guilford is distinguished by its very loose course requirements, although the faculty watches closely to make sure each student is moving toward a sound academic goal. Carol West, a college counselor at the American International School in Egypt, said, “It is a favorite of mine for a solid B student or higher who is liberal arts oriented.”
  8. Occidental College
    Los Angeles; www.oxy.edu; 323-259-2500
    I spent my freshman year at this school and have visited several times since. I admire its evolution into a campus deeply engaged in the southern California community. I no longer think it is underappreciated. In fact, Oxy has become very hot. But many guidance counselors still insist that it isn’t getting the attention it deserves.
  9. Washington College
    Chestertown, Md.; www.washcoll.edu; 800-422-1782
    Under John S. Toll, former chancellor of the University of Maryland, this small school has begun to develop a national reputation and win the hearts of many high school staffers. Cathy Henderson Stein, who works in the career information center at Montgomery Blair High School in Silver Spring, Md., said the school does “a great job of getting their kids into med schools.”
  10. Illinois Wesleyan University
    Bloomington, Ill.; www.iwu.edu; 309-556-1000
    An ambitious building program has helped give this school of 2,100 undergraduates a national reputation. Mary Juraska, college consultant at Marian Catholic High School in Chicago Heights, Ill., said it has “strong fine arts, liberal arts and sciences” and “an excellent success rate for students applying to medical school.”
  11. Trinity University
    San Antonio; www.trinity.edu; 210-999-7011
    This institution of 2,300 undergraduates has had success offering generous scholarships to top students, while building first-class business administration and computer science programs. Natalie Root, an International Baccalaureate teacher at Washington-Lee High School in Arlington, recalled a family that had “nothing but high praise” for the school.
  12. Kenyon College
    Gambier, Ohio; www.kenyon.edu; 800-848-2468
    The college has long had a reputation for intellectual quality and close faculty-student relationships. Connie Decker, counselor at John W. North High School in Riverside, Calif., said “very bright students who are not necessarily interested in the ‘name game’ love it.”
  13. Whitman College
    Walla Walla, Wash.; www.whitman.edu; 877-462-9448
    The college of about 1,400 students has an admissions policy emphasizing essays and extracurricular activities over SATs. “The college cares much more about who you are and what you have to offer,” the Princeton Review said. Dorothy Hay, a counselor at Liberty High School in the Issaquah school district east of Seattle, said students like Whitman’s rural setting and a great city park “with lovely white swans.”
  14. Grinnell College
    Grinnell, Iowa; www.grinnell.edu; 641-269-4000
    The college, established in 1846 by a group of transplanted New Englanders with close ties to the Congregational Church, has long committed itself to social reform. It has about 1,350 students in a rural part of the country. There are relatively few minorities, but there is a strong academic emphasis and lots of volunteer opportunities.
  15. Wheaton College
    Wheaton, Ill.; www.wheaton.edu; 630-752-5000
    Christian moral principals are important at this campus of 2,400 undergraduates. Kaplan’s Unofficial, Biased Insider’s Guide to the 320 Most Interesting Colleges said it “may truly be the Harvard of Christian higher education…. The scriptures are the core of the education, and biblical studies are required.”
  16. Dickinson College
    Carlisle, Pa.; www.dickinson.edu; 717-243-5121
    The school has 2,200 undergraduates and is losing its reputation as a refuge for rich kids, with its academic standards higher-than-ever and opportunities for study abroad increasing. Cathy Henderson Stein, who works in the career information center at Montgomery Blair High School in Silver Spring, Md., said Dickinson has a “really great foreign language department and is good for pre-law.”
  17. Christopher Newport University
    Newport News, Va.; www.cnu.edu; 757-594-7000
    The school, the youngest comprehensive university in Virginia, is developing a regional reputation as part of the rapid growth of the Tidewater area. Sunny Greene, recently retired as a college adviser at the Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Fairfax County, Va., called Christopher Newport an “up and coming small state university with a caring faculty.”
  18. Truman State University
    Kirksville, Mo.; www.truman.edu; 800-892-7792
    With about 5,700 undergraduates, the university is one of a handful of tax-supported schools that have gained national reputations by focusing on small classes and high academic standards. Barbara Harris Lord, a counselor at Plattsburg (Mo.) Accelerated High School, said Truman State has an excellent teacher education department. It is known for its intimate, small-campus atmosphere, and low teacher-student ratio.
  19. Westminster College
    Fulton, Mo.; www.westminster-mo.edu; 573-642-3361
    Famous as the site of Winston Churchill’s “Iron Curtain” speech in 1946, the tiny school-only 700 students-has fashioned a program based on the values of integrity, fairness, respect, and responsibility.
  20. Loyola Marymount University
    Los Angeles; www.lmu.edu; 310-338-2700
    The school is one of 28 Jesuit universities in the United States. It emphasizes its close ties to the culture and economy of Southern California, and it recruits heavily in Hispanic neighborhoods.
  21. Macalester College
    St. Paul, Minn.; www.macalester.edu; 651-696-6000
    The school has acquired a very favorable reputation in recent years among private schools and very competitive public high schools for possessing Ivy qualities and yet having room for more than just students with stellar SAT scores.
  22. Hartwick College
    Oneonta, N.Y.; www.hartwick.edu; 607-431-4000
    Howard Uhrlass, a counselor at West Genesee High School in Camillus, N.Y., called Hartwick a “strong liberal arts school with a staff that interacts closely with students.” He also praised the quality of the admissions and financial aid staff.
  23. Goucher College
    Baltimore; www.goucher.edu; 410-337-6000
    I put it on the list because so many guidance counselors mentioned it, not because I have known the college’s new president, Sanford J. Ungar, since we were on the same college newspaper together more than a third of a century ago. Its proximity to the many cultural attractions of Baltimore is a plus, and its strong science and writing programs have added to its reputation.
  24. Hendrix College
    Conway, Ark.; www.hendrix.edu; 800-277-9017
    This is one of the schools on Pope’s list. The Princeton Review’s The Best 345 Colleges said it is “an especially good bet for students with strong grades who lack the test scores usually necessary for admission to colleges on a higher level of selectivity.” There are slightly more than 1,000 undergraduates, making it easy for professors to get to know students.
  25. Austin College
    Sherman, Tex.; www.austincollege.edu; 800-526-4276
    Having been praised by Pope, the school has experienced a jump in applications that may soon take it off of anyone’s underappreciated list. It was founded in 1849 and is affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Approximately two thirds of its students pursue advanced degrees within five years of graduating from Austin.
  26. Berry College
    Mount Berry, Ga.; www.berry.edu; 706-232-5374
    For students who do not need a bustling big city to keep them happy, this college is a rare treat. Tere Goodwin, a high school counselor in Fayette County, Ga., said Berry’s “overall program is phenomenal.” Laura Herd, a teaching consultant in Greenville, S.C., who has advised students on colleges for years, said the school is “private and non-denominational but Christian in philosophy and practice.”
  27. St. Olaf College
    Northfield, Minn.; www.stolaf.edu; 507-646-2222
    Fans of the situation comedy The Golden Girls may smile at the name St. Olaf, the trigger to many Betty White jokes, but there is the college in chilly Minnesota, setting a standard for academic excellence and sobriety that has won it many admirers, particularly among high school counselors. Peg Glasgow, a counselor for the Boyertown (Pa.) Area School District, called it “a jewel with a reputation that has not spread as far as its strengths warrant.”
  28. Bates College
    Lewiston, Maine; www.bates.edu; 207-786-6255
    This is another small school-about 1,800 undergraduates-with a well-earned reputation for high academic standards and easy faculty-student communication. It does not require that applicants submit SAT or ACT scores, but students who have not applied themselves to their high school courses or shown intellectual merit in some way will not get in.
  29. Allegheny College
    Meadville, Pa.; www.allegheny.edu; 814-332-3100
    Allegheny has 1,900 undergraduates and a historic affiliation with the United Methodist Church. Pope said it “has a long and distinguished record of producing not only future scientists and scholars, but business leaders as well.”
  30. Davidson College
    Davidson, N.C.; www.davidson.edu; 704-894-2000
    This is another school that I would say is no longer underappreciated. It accepts only about 35 percent of applicants, making it tougher to get into than Wellesley or Carleton or any of a number of brand-name colleges. The academic demands on its 1,600 undergraduates are unusually intense, but that has only added to its reputation.
  31. Colorado College
    Colorado Springs; www.coloradocollege.edu; 800-542-7214
    Students who choose to spend their high school years in extraordinarily difficult Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate courses are eagerly recruited by Colorado College. It has become fashionable among families that look for Ivy-like colleges.
  32. Gettysburg College
    Gettysburg, Pa.; www.gettysburg.edu; 717-337-6000
    Many students love the charming campus in rural Pennsylvania. The student body, about 2,200 undergraduates, is academically motivated, if too wedded to the fraternity and sorority scene for some tastes. The history, political science, and business administration programs are good, as are the sciences.
  33. Quinnipiac University
    Hamden, Conn.; www.quinnipiac.edu; 800-462-1944
    The school began in 1929 as the Connecticut College of Commerce. It still has a strong commitment to preparing students for the business world, as well as the health science and communication fields.
  34. Millsaps College
    Jackson, Miss.; www.millsaps.edu; 800-352-1050
    “Jackson has a thriving arts community and Millsaps is located to take advantage of the political, business, and arts opportunities surrounding it,” said Mary Ann Willis of Bayside Academy. “The size of the place lends it to smaller, more discussion-oriented classes. Scholarship money is available and internships are a plus.”
  35. Bard College
    Annandale-on-Hudson, N.Y.; www.bard.edu; 845-758-7472
    The college’s president, Leon Botstein, is one of the few higher education leaders anyone has ever heard of. He is a violinist, conductor, and music scholar, and an advocate for reform whose acidic sense of humor has made him a popular speaker and government advisor.
  36. York College of Pennsylvania
    York, Pa.; www.ycp.edu; 717-846-7788
    Louis J. Bamonte, guidance chairperson at Walter G. O’Connell Copiague High School in Copiague, N.Y., said York “has a good selection of programs” and because of strong alumni support, tuition “is very inexpensive as far as private schools are concerned.” Marilee Kessler, counselor at Central York High School, said this college in her town “does everything first class!”
  37. Muhlenberg College
    Allentown, Pa.; www.muhlenberg.edu; 484-664-3100
    The college has aggressively promoted its no-SAT, no-ACT admissions policy and has in the process become very selective, admitting only 35 percent of applicants. The campus is beautiful and the faculty very lively.
  38. Keene State College
    Keene, N.H.; www.keene.edu; 603-352-1909
    This is one of the state schools which, like Truman State in Missouri, have developed an intellectual reputation and caught the attention of counselors throughout their regions. Sally O’Rourke of Andover (Mass.) High said students from her community have found Keene State to be a “great campus in a small town.”
  39. Ursinus College
    Collegeville, Pa.; www.ursinus.edu; 610-409-3200
    This college of not much more than 1,300 undergraduates has built a strong reputation for biology and chemistry courses that prepare students for medical school. Cigus Vanni, counselor facilitator at Cherry Hill High School West in New Jersey, said when he brought a group of high school students to the college “we received extraordinary personal attention, a warm welcome in admissions and a true sense of caring.”
  40. University of Puget Sound
    Tacoma, Wash.; www.ups.edu; 253-879-3100
    Tacoma, like nearby Seattle, is rainy, but that has not affected the warm feelings many counselors have for this school. Connie Decker at John W. North High in Riverside, Calif., said UPS is “really nurturing, individual attention abounds-lots of opportunities for students to become involved.”
  41. Spelman College
    Atlanta; www.spelman.edu; 404-681-3643
    This historically black women’s college is another place mentioned by guidance counselors that I think no longer belongs on any underappreciated list. It has a national reputation and a sense of tradition that few schools ever hope to achieve. “There is great mentoring here and the best of their students could have, in many cases, gone to an Ivy League school,” said Mary Ann Willis, of Bayside Academy in Daphne, Ala.
  42. St. Lawrence University
    Canton, N.Y.; www.stlawu.edu; 315-229-5011
    St. Lawrence, with about 2,000 students, is one of many schools on this list that has created a vibrant liberal arts tradition with excellent faculty and good character values, but cannot get the attention it deserves because it is in such a remote location.
  43. St. John’s College
    Annapolis and Santa Fe; www.sjca.edu and www.sjcsf.edu; 800-727-9238 and 505-984-6000
    Here are the ultimate intellectual experiences-two schools on two lovely campuses at opposite ends of the country, joined by their commitment to the most ancient traditions of higher education. The students read the Great Books. The tutors guide their discussions. There is nothing else like them in America.
  44. Savannah College of Art and Design
    Savannah, Ga.; www.scad.edu; 912-525-5100
    The school has 5,500 students engaged in a range of artistic pursuits, from architecture to jewelry to video and film. Its allure is enhanced by its location in one of the loveliest and most intriguing old Southern cities. Ten percent of the students come from abroad.
  45. Wabash College
    Crawfordsville, Ind.; www.wabash.edu; 800-345-5385
    One of the last bastions of single-sex education for men, Wabash extols its “Gentleman’s Rule,”, a promise to behave as a gentleman and responsible citizen on and off campus. It seems to work. Like the women’s colleges, applicants are very much self-selected, and the rejection rates are not so high. But the academic demands require energy and attention.
  46. University of Tampa
    Tampa, Fla.; www.utampa.edu; 813-253-6211
    This is one of the schools that I was surprised to find on the list. The private university of 3,200 undergraduates has only the beginnings of a strong regional reputation, but counselors like what they have been hearing from students. There is a $110 million building program underway.
  47. Hope College
    Holland, Mich.; www.hope.edu; 800-968-7850
    The school has 3,000 undergraduates enrolled in a liberal arts program buttressed with an emphasis on Christian values. Sarah Bast, a school counselor in Knoxville, Tenn., and a Hope graduate, complimented the school’s strong pre-med and pre-engineering programs.
  48. Evergreen State College
    Olympia, Wash.; www.evergreen.edu; 877-787-9721
    In keeping with the individualistic traditions of the Pacific Northwest, the 4,000 undergraduates are required to create their own course of study on this lovely campus. Dorothy Hay, a counselor at Liberty High School in Issaquah, near Seattle, said Evergreen State is famous for its refusal to give standard grades.
  49. Centre College
    Danville, Ky.; www.centre.edu; 800-423-6236
    The college of 1,000 students is considered one of the premier intellectual gathering points in its region. It draws undergraduates who were very successful in their high school courses and professors trained at many of the brand name schools. Pope put it on his list of 40.
  50. Mary Washington College
    Fredericksburg, Va.; www.mwc.edu; 540-654-1000
    Its strong academic reputation and low price tag as a state school have made Mary Washington a rising star. Natalie Root, a teacher at Washington-Lee High School in Arlington, Va., said, “Parents, former students, and other teachers I have spoken to about this school all have the same basic response, ‘What a great place!'”
  51. Beloit College
    Beloit, Wis.; www.beloit.edu; 608-363-2000
    The town isn’t much, but the campus of about 1,300 undergraduates has unusually good food, small classes, and an innovative faculty that have given it a solid reputation. Dory Streett of the American School of Milan, said it has an “exceptional anthropology department and very good fine arts department.”
  52. Bucknell University
    Lewisburg, Pa.; www.bucknell.edu; 570-577-1101
    The university has about 3,500 undergraduates and a solid reputation for preparing students for business, engineering and science. Mary Ann Willis, of Bayside Academy in Daphne, Ala., summed up Bucknell this way: “Sleepy town, beautiful campus, first rate teachers, good athletics, engineers have to learn how to write and think in a liberal arts way.”
  53. Depauw University
    Greencastle, Ind.; www.depauw.edu; 800-447-2495
    The beautiful campus and long tradition of excellence draw families to the school. It has a Winter Term, a month between semesters for students to get experience they can’t get in the classroom.
  54. Flagler College
    St. Augustine, Fla.; www.flagler.edu; 904-829-6481
    This is another school whose reputation is rising rapidly. Tracy L. Weaver, a guidance counselor at Fair Haven (Vt.) Union High School, said she often recommends Flagler to her students, and not just because it is her alma mater. “The classes are small, the campus is a historical landmark (the former Ponce de Leon Hotel), and the cost per year including tuition and room and board is around $10,000,” she said.
  55. Ithaca College
    Ithaca, N.Y.; www.ithaca.edu; 800-429-4274
    Overshadowed by sharing the same town with Ivy giant Cornell University, Ithaca is gaining a reputation for excellent programs in music, theater, communication and physical therapy. It has about 6,100 undergraduates, only about half of whom are from New York.
  56. Johnson & Wales University
    Providence, R.I.; www.jwu.edu; 401-598-1000
    Here is a school with a very well defined goal-to prepare students for careers in business, technology, or culinary arts. It was established in Providence in 1914, but now has campuses in Denver, Norfolk, Charleston, S.C., and North Miami, Fla., as well as opportunity for study in Goteborg, Sweden.
  57. Nazareth College of Rochester
    Rochester, N.Y.; www.naz.edu; 585-389-2860
    The institution was founded by the Sisters of St. Joseph, Nazareth, in 1924, but has been an independent private college for more than 30 years. It has about 1,600 full time undergraduates, but is in the midst of a major expansion, including the purchase of a 73-acre tract next door, that will raise enrollment to about 2,000 in 2005.
  58. Western Carolina University
    Cullowhee, N.C.; www.wcu.edu; 877-928-4968
    Counselors have remarked on the 265-acre campus, nestled between the Great Smoky and Blue Ridge Mountains. Annual expenses are about $6,500 for in-state students and $15,500 for out of state. It was the first university in the North Carolina system to require all students to own their own computers. It has an Honors College and a wide range of majors.
  59. University of Redlands
    Redlands, Calif.; www.redlands.edu; 909-335-4074
    The 2,000-undergraduate, private school has long had a good reputation in California, and that is spreading. Students may design their own majors. The classes are small. The campus covers 140-acres in a lovely, hilly suburban community, close to Interstate 10 and all the pleasant distractions of Southern California.
  60. Paul Smith’s College
    Paul Smiths, N.Y.; www.paulsmiths.edu; 800-421-2605
    I suspect guidance counselors recommend this college, at least in part, because they want an excuse to visit a place that looks much more like a mountain resort than an institution of higher learning. Paul Smith’s (no one has explained to me why the school gets an apostrophe and the town doesn’t) began as an Adirondacks vacation stop, Paul Smith’s Hotel, which attracted Teddy Roosevelt, Grover Cleveland, Irving Berlin and Henry Ford. It now offers degrees in biology and natural resources as well as business, travel and tourism, and culinary arts and service management.
  61. Saint Louis University
    St. Louis, Mo.; www.slu.edu; 314-977-2500
    The Jesuit university emphasizes career programs, as well as solid academic work. Mary Juraska at Marian Catholic High in Chicago Heights said the school of 7,200 undergraduates is “highly regarded by Illinois counselors, especially for physical therapy, business, and accounting.”
  62. Santa Clara University
    Santa Clara, Calif.; www.scu.edu; 408-554-4700
    Brian Aguilar, academic coordinator of the Upward Board Program at UC-Davis, said this private college in Silicon Valley has “an excellent pre-med reputation.” The undergraduate program includes liberal arts, business and engineering.
  63. Western New England College
    Springfield, Mass.; www.wnec.edu; 800-325-1122
    The college of 2,000 undergraduates on a lovely campus in western Massachusetts began in 1919 as a few college courses at the Springfield Central YMCA. It now offers a broad range of majors in the arts and sciences, plus business and engineering, and part-time programs at 20 locations throughout the state.
  64. University of Tulsa
    Tulsa; www.utulsa.edu; 918-631-2307
    The oldest private university in Oklahoma, TU was founded in Muskogee as the Presbyterian School for Indian Girls. It now has 2,769 undergraduates of every ethnic background and a student/faculty ratio of 11 to one. The strong science program is augmented by well-organized opportunities for undergraduate research.
  65. Lewis & Clark College
    Portland, Ore.; www.lclark.edu; 503-768-7040
    Portland has become one of the great college towns, and Lewis & Clark students enjoy the ambiance. There are about 1,700 undergraduates on a campus with a long tradition of liberal political activism and popular majors in psychology, English and biology.
  66. Manhattanville College
    Purchase, N.Y.; www.mville.edu; 914-694-2200
    The beautiful 100-acre campus in Westchester County has 1,400 undergraduates pursuing liberal arts studies, with a strong emphasis on training teachers and providing internships with a variety of businesses.
  67. Willamette University
    Salem, Ore.; www.willamette.edu; 503-370-6303
    State capitals often have attractive colleges and universities, and Salem is no exception. Willamette’s political science program benefits from its proximity to Oregon’s seat of government and an internship program in the District.
  68. Texas Christian University
    Fort Worth; www.tcu.edu; 817-257-7000
    This was another guidance counselor recommendation that surprised me. I thought of TCU as a big sports school with very strong fraternities and sororities, and it is that. But high school staffers say it also has excellent programs in business, journalism, health science and education, and a beautiful campus.
  69. Birmingham-Southern College
    Birmingham; www.bsc.edu; 205-226-4600
    It calls itself “Southern Ivy.” Mary Ann Willis, college counselor at Bayside Academy in Daphne, Ala., said, “The president knows the students by name and remembers them for years. They have strong pre-professional programs and solid support for the arts. Their GALA program recognizing outstanding women draws the big names as recipients.”
  70. College of St. Scholastica
    Duluth, Minn., www.css.edu, 800-447-5444
    Linnea Velsvaag, a guidance counselor in Minnesota, said the four-year college “has the best anatomy and physiology (cadaver lab) I know of in the state. The chemistry department is incredible also.”
  71. University of the Pacific
    Stockton, Calif.; www.uop.edu; 800-959-2867
    The university has about 3,200 undergraduates on a lovely campus close enough-if you have a car-for regular visits to San Francisco and Sacramento or the Sierra Nevada mountains. “This is one of the most beautiful campuses I’ve ever seen, modeled after Yale’s campus,” said Lori Patton, a counselor at Casa Roble Fundamental High School in Orangevale, Calif.
  72. Lawrence University
    Appleton, Wis.; www.lawrence.edu; 800-227-0982
    The school has only about 1,350 undergraduates who say the campus is socially slow but comfortable, and full of academic challenges. Andrew McNeill, director of college counseling at the Taft School in Watertown, Conn., called Lawrence “long on intellectualism and diversity of thinking.”
  73. Agnes Scott College
    Decatur, Ga.; www.agnesscott.edu; 800-868-8602
    This is one of the smallest schools on this list, and one of the few that admits only women. There are less than 900 undergraduates, who gravitate toward a tradition of liberal arts in a Southern atmosphere with a strong connection between faculty and students. It also has one of the largest portions of African American students of any non-historically black school on this list–23 percent.
  74. Berea College
    Berea, Ky.; www.berea.edu; 859-985-3000 x3500
    This Appalachian college was founded in 1855 by John G. Fee, an ardent abolitionist. It was dedicated from its beginning to interracial education and to the betterment of the poverty-stricken region. It pioneered a work program so that poor students could afford a private liberal arts education. Today, 80 percent of its students come from Kentucky and the Appalachian region.
  75. Augustana College
    Sioux Falls, S.D.; www.augie.edu; 605-274-0770
    The 100-acre campus is affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and has about 1,650 undergraduates. In recent years nearly $20 million has been invested in new centers for social science, Western studies and humanities.
  76. Bowling Green State University
    Bowling Green, Ohio; www.bgsu.edu; 419-372-2531
    From its beginnings as a teacher-training college, Bowling Green has grown into a major institution with 260 different major degree programs and more than 16,000 undergraduates. About 65 percent of students receive financial aid.
  77. Adelphi University
    Garden City, N.Y.; www.adelphi.edu; 516-877-3000
    Adelphi was founded in 1896, the first co-educational college in New York state. The emphasis in on liberal arts, as well as pre-professional programs in medicine, law, business, government, scientific research and media. An Honors College recruits advanced students interested in interdisciplinary work.
  78. University of Denver
    Denver; www.du.edu; 303-871-2036
    This campus in a large and vibrant city has attracted many students with business careers in mind, but it is also working to strengthen its liberal arts courses. There are 3,900 undergraduates.
  79. Hobart & William Smith Colleges
    Geneva, N.Y.; www.hws.edu; 315-781-3000
    These schools, a men’s college and a women’s college joined together, have 1,900 undergraduates on a verdant campus alongside Seneca Lake. There are small classes and a strong commitment to a liberal arts education for all. Suzy Hallock-Bannigan, director of counseling services at Woodstock (Vt.) Union High School, said that for many low-income applicants “they come up with remarkable funding opportunities and they seem to have that old Avis we-try-harder attitude.”
  80. University of the South
    Sewanee, Tenn.; www.sewanee.edu; 931-598-1238
    This school has long been popular among academically ambitious students in its region. “Students and families either instantly love this place or automatically rule its remote location out,” said Mary Ann Willis, college counselor at Bayside Academy in Daphne, Ala. “The campus is lovingly referred to as The Mountain.”
  81. Xavier University of Louisiana
    New Orleans; www.xula.edu; 504-483-7388
    This is one of the premier historically black universities in the country and the only one that is Catholic. It has an impressive list of professional alumni. There are about 3,500 undergraduates, and the school offers one of the strongest health science programs anywhere. “It has produced a ton of doctors and pharmacists, and has great summer programs for high school students, especially in sciences, math, and computers,” said Mary Ann Willis of Bayside Academy.
  82. St. Andrews Presbyterian University
    Laurinburg, N.C.; www.sapc.edu; 910-277-5555
    “These people are alchemists,” said Suzy Hallock-Bannigan of Woodstock (Vt.) Union High School. “It seems they develop students to the max and love them forever. It’s a small and intimate sort of place.” Alice T. Ledford of the American International School in Riyadh called St. Andrews “a jewel hidden away in southern North Carolina.”
  83. Saint Joseph’s College of Maine
    Standish, Maine.; www.sjcme.edu; 800-338-7057
    This is a very small, co-educational college of 870 undergraduates, with plans to grow to 1,020 by 2004. It was founded in 1912 by the Sisters of Mercy and occupies 331 beautifully forested acres along the shore of Sebago Lake, 18 miles northwest of Portland. It focuses on liberal arts and sciences, education, nursing, and business, with a very active service learning program.
  84. Seattle Pacific University
    Seattle; www.spu.edu; 206-281-2000
    This is a private university with about 2,800 undergraduates. It is located on 45 acres in the fashionable Queen Anne Hill area of Seattle and is very serious about its evangelical Christian orientation. Ruth Bigback, a counselor at Pacific Middle School in Vancouver, Wash., praised Seattle Pacific’s “high standards, both academically and ethically.”
  85. Western Washington University
    Bellingham, Wash.; www.wwu.edu; 360-650-3000
    Western, as it is called, was rated one of 31 universities nationally for a high level of individual academic attention to students by the Kaplan/Newsweek College Catalog. Dorothy Hay, a counselor at Liberty High School in Issaquah, Wash., said the school is at a scenic spot on the coast and specializes in international studies, orchestral music, foreign languages, art, education, English, geography, pre-law and sociology.
  86. Eckerd College
    St. Petersburg, Fla.; www.eckerd.edu; 800-456-9009
    The college has about 1,600 undergraduates, many of them marine biology majors making use of the school’s splendid science faculty and convenient location on Florida’s Gulf Coast.
  87. Drew University
    Madison, N.J.; www.drew.edu; 973-408-3000
    The 1,500 undergraduates are drawn to a number of internships and special programs that take advantage of the campus’s proximity to New York City. Students interested in Wall Street or art or international affairs have much to choose from.
  88. Chapman University
    Orange, Calif.; www.chapman.edu; 714-997-6711
    Chapman has 3,141 undergraduates on its campus in the middle of Orange County. Connie Decker at John W. North High in Riverside, Calif., said, “This is a tier one school, in my estimation, in music, film/TV, and economics.”
  89. Alfred University
    Alfred, N.Y.; www.alfred.edu; 607-871-2111
    The school, with 2,100 undergraduates, is known for its majors in ceramic sciences and engineering, fine arts, and business administration. Cigus Vanni, a counselor facilitator at Cherry Hill High School West in New Jersey, joked that Alfred is so isolated in upstate New York that its zip code is E-I-E-I-O. But, he said, it has great departments in visual arts, and dance and provides a “tremendous amount of personal attention.”
  90. Carroll College
    Helena, Mont.; www.carroll.edu; 406-447-4300
    This independent Catholic liberal arts college is spread over 64 acres on a tree-covered hill in Montana’s state capital. Many students are drawn to the recreational opportunities, which include hiking, mountain biking, camping, fishing, and skiing.
  91. Loyola College in Maryland
    Baltimore; www.loyola.edu; 410-617-2252
    This school north of downtown Baltimore has about 3,500 undergraduates who thrive in an urban environment with shops, restaurants, bars, symphonies, and big league teams in both football and baseball. The tough core curriculum weeds out those who don’t understand what it means to be educated by Jesuits.
  92. Knox College
    Galesburg, Ill.; www.knox.edu; 800-678-5669
    Several generations back, my branch of the Mathews family settled in this very rural part of Illinois. My immediate ancestors, bored out of their skulls, headed for California, but I am still fond of the area and am pleased that Knox college is recognized by counselors as a good place for students ready to work hard.
  93. Miami University
    Oxford, Ohio; www.miami.muohio.edu; 513-529-1809
    This is a very big state school, with more than 15,000 undergraduates. But it has built a reputation for very high academic standards and very involved faculty. Andrew McNeill, director of college counseling at the Taft School in Watertown, Conn., said of the school, “You’ll never, ever meet an alum who does not love the place and speak of it with flowing praise.”
  94. Samford University
    Birmingham; www.samford.edu; 205-726-3673
    Samford, with about 2,900 undergraduates, offers a range of opportunities in education, nursing, pharmacy, the performing arts, and pre-professional courses for future doctors and lawyers. “This school is nestled in a nice area of Birmingham on top of a hill overlooking Lakeshore Drive,” said Mary Ann Willis of Bayside Academy in Daphne, Ala.
  95. University of Scranton
    Scranton, Pa.; matrix.scranton.edu; 570-941-7540
    This Jesuit school has 3,500 full-time undergraduates. Kenneth G. McCurdy, Scranton alumnus and director of the graduate program in counselor education at Malone College in Canton, Ohio, said the university is distinguished by “small class sizes, high academic expectations, close community environment, a metropolis campus that maintains a community atmosphere, and faculty and staff that are actively involved with the student body.”
  96. Randolph-Macon College
    Ashland, Va.; www.rmc.edu; 804-752-7305
    This co-educational college of 1,150 undergraduates wins praise from counselors for close attention to students and small classes. The campus is lovely. Relations between students are close, and the library and computer facilities are exceptional. About 60 percent of graduates go on to professional or graduate schools within five years.
  97. Siena College
    Loudonville, N.Y.; www.siena.edu; 518-783-2300
    The school has about 3,000 undergraduates and a strong history department, as well as popular business majors. Mike Stahl at Schenectady (N.Y.) High complimented the college’s “outstanding admission staff” for being “extremely supportive and helpful.” He said the school has a “caring atmosphere with strong academic programs.”
  98. Lambuth University
    Jackson, Tenn.; www.lambuth.edu; 800-526-2884
    This United Methodist Church-related school in West Tennessee has a liberal arts tradition with small classes and a fine campus. Students are required to take two courses in religion, but guidance counselors say the church influence is not oppressive. “It turns out students who can read, write, and think,” said Richard James, education professor and coordinator of school counseling at the University of Memphis.
  99. Ohio University
    Athens, Ohio; www.ohiou.edu; 740-593-1000
    About to celebrate its bicentennial in 2004, this is the oldest public institution of higher learning in Ohio and a favorite of college guides that look for best buys. It has nearly 17,000 undergraduates and a strong academic standing that makes it attractive even to out-of-state applicants. “Definitely a gem,” said Mary Juraska, college consultant with Marian Catholic High School in Chicago Heights, Ill.
  100. Dean College
    Franklin, Mass.; www.dean.edu; 877-879-3326
    This is a two-year school with four-year school features, including a bachelor’s degree in dance and a collaboration with Suffolk University to offer other full degrees. It has unusual links to the mutual fund industry and a warmth and accessibility that has impressed some counselors.