What are your favorite “average” schools?

Would love to hear what some of your favorite non T40 schools that your kids attend or that you have have visited. T50’s get so much attention on this site so I’d love to hear about some other schools and what you love about them. Couple of my favorites:

Elon-daughter attends. Kids I have met seem very smart and focused. Campus is beautiful. Great mix of students from the northeast, south, and the rest of the country.

Rollins- schools is absolutely beautiful. Students seem very friendly. Light rail right down the street to take you into
Orlando in under 20 minutes.

University of Dayton- super happy, friendly students. Beautiful campus. Great merit. Awesome housing for upperclassmen.

What are your favorites?


For students interested in engineering, my D loved her visit to Clarkson. Very hands on program, friendly profs and students, honors housing looked great, opportunities for big merit awards for high stat kids, and a cool tunnel system connecting all the buildings for the cold winter months.


Not an “average” school by any means- but a wildly underrated one by kids and their parents- Missouri S&T. Greatly beloved by employers for providing a rigorous engineering education but flies under the radar… For the humanities- Earlham, for a bunch of more pre-professional majors- University of New Haven.


My kids who wanted to go OOS had to chase merit, one of my seniors really liked Elon but decided on Clemson, my 20 year old absolutely loves the University of Delaware.


Roanoke College in Salem, VA. Son graduated last year. Gorgeous campus, views of the Blue Ridge Mountains, walking distance to a small downtown in Salem, solid academics.


Hobart & William Smith had a great lakefront campus and impressive study abroad options. Clark in Worcester, MA was a terrific school that inexplicably flys under a lot of radars. We felt it had a lot to offer considering it’s small size. We were told by a college counselor that many students love it immediately even though they are hesitant to check it out since they never heard of it.


I’m partial to public universities.

Wisconsin for its beautiful location on Lake Mendota and the Student Union right on the lake. It’s good in nearly every area.

Arizona State as a very innovative school, with excellent business and engineering programs, and top notch honors college.

University of Washington for it picturesque view of Mount Rainier on a sunny day, in Seattle on Lake Wash, its cherry blossoms in the spring, and its older classic style buildings. Excellent computer science and business programs.

CalPoly SLO, which is located in one of my favorite college towns. 15 minutes from the beach and close to the wineries in Paso Robles, Morro Bay, and Highway 1, the must stunning drive in the country. Very good Comp Sci and engineering programs. “Learn by doing.”


Arizona State is also in a metro area that includes most of the state’s population, so it functions as both a flagship-level state university and a broad-access commute-accessible university for a large percentage of the state population. It also has significant distance education programs. I.e. it has something for almost everyone in the state.

However, the popular majors (including CS and various engineering majors) at these schools are highly selective for admission.


James Madison University in Harrisonburg, VA.


First off IMO these “average” schools are, in reality, far from average. They can provide outstanding educations and fantastic overall college experiences to students who are lucky enough to attend. It is a misconception that only the top 40 or so colleges are “excellent”.

My S went to Fordham and had a fantastic experience – he was transformed in a positive way in every area imaginable – academically, socially, self-confidence wise etc. I don’t think there could have been a better college for him anywhere.

My D went to Lafayette College and had a similar experience. She enjoys small close-knit environments and Lafayette gave her a place where she thrived academically, socially, doing ECs, doing research with professors etc. It was a great fit for her.

FWIW both kids went to top ranked grad programs in their field (one to Notre Dame and one to Columbia) and thankfully (knock wood) both are doing great.


It’s a wierd question - we don’t know major interested, size, region, etc. etc. but my daughter will attend College of Charleston…it’s smaller, has a lot of individualized attention (at least during admissions where she’s had the Dean and a Professor reach out.

We’ve only heard good things.

There’s so many “great schools” out there that don’t fit the top 40 box - in many ways it’s up to the student to make the school great.


My son went OOS to Kansas State and has loved it. He got a great education, great travel abroad, great scholarships and had a fantastic experience. He is in vet school there now. They have a great agriculture/animal science department, their science curriculum for pre-med and pre-vet is very strong as is their architecture program. Some of his friends were engineering majors and have started jobs all over the country. His roommate loved the kinesiology program and is doing a PhD there now. Excellent place to get research experience. Compact but nice campus, small town but fun! Never would have expected a large city kid to love going there but he does. Professor involvement with the students is a big plus.


Will she be in the Honors College there?

Seconding Clarkson! Also really like Allegheny.


Eckerd College. I can’t see why everyone wouldn’t want to go there! Beautiful campus and interesting programs. Love their “Fall Term” for Freshman.


Wasn’t asking specifically for my kids, just more of a general “name some schools that are not always mentioned on CC in every other post and explain what you like about them.” I just want to hear about some about schools that are not Harvard, Stanford, Colgate, Georgetown, UC’s, etc.

Also, I realize most of these schools are above average. I was using “average” in the context of CC. And I’ve heard great things about College of Charleston.

Oddly enough we’ve visited a lot of these schools listed and my D20 applied to several of them. Hobart, Univ of Delaware, Fordham, Roanoke, and Clark are all ones that we have either visited and/or applied to.

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I really like this question. I do hope there will be a real focus on what various schools offer to students rather than vice versa. Presumably the top 40 list and their ability to focus in on specific candidate backgrounds and features results in not only a great class for the school but a great environment for each of the admitted students in which to thrive; however, I’d like some proof of that and this thought that it’s better to have a collection of superstars shaped into a well rounded class by the school than a collection of well rounded students. It’s better for the schools in their US News and other rankings I suppose but I’m not sure that’s the best environment or developmental approach for university students. I hope threads like this will help highlight some schools that really focus on the student and their development and experience–not in a gourmet food court plush dorm sort of way–but in the way of the Fordham comment where there is real growth in students into better rounded and well adjusted graduates.

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I love Earlham. At the other end of the vibe spectrum is St. Lawrence. DH wanted to enroll at Bard after visiting. Denison, F&M, Dickinson, Wooster all are somewhat easier to get into that their New England equals and great schools.

It’s amazing how many really good options are out there. And of course, there are schools that are terrific for certain interests yet not impossible to get admitted to. Scranton for PT, for example…


I’m a big fan of UNC Asheville, one of the very few public LACs. The academics are surprisingly rigorous with a demanding core curriculum, including a required 3-semester humanities sequence. It’s an excellent alternative to NC State and UNC Chapel Hill for NC residents uninterested in large universities.

Asheville itself is a fun, trendy town, which is a nice bonus.


None of my kids attended but I’ve always liked Marquette University and think it falls in this category. Good engineering, nursing and business programs, lots of school spirit, service oriented and located in Milwaukee with lots of
internship opportunities and things to do. Great alumni network.