Your vote for "Most Underappreciated" lesser known colleges?

UIUC and U-Wisconsin are great, maybe “lesser-known” schools?

Beloit College in Wisconsin! Nicest school EVER.

Union College, Schenectady, NY
SUNY Binghamton
SUNY Stony Brook

It’s funny what some are saying are lesser known. UIUC, UWMadison, SUNY Binghamton and Stony Brook are all major Unis. Harvey Mudd is super highly rated and extremely well known.

Rose Hulman is less well known and deserves mentioning. (I might have missed it if someone already mentioned it.)

Mudd is much better known on the West coast. Surprisingly little recognition in the Midwest. Remember that they graduate less than 200 students a year and have only been around since 1955. That is an entire alumni population of around 10,000. It is an amazing school, and my Midwest kid adored it.

Binghamton and Stony Brook are known in the NY, NJ, PA, CT area. Outside of there, not so much.

It is very common for students and parents on these forums to think of a potential admission safety as one that is unworthy of the student in that the student “should do better” (i.e. attend a more selective college).

We were happily surprised by Siena College in NY (near Albany). While my S ultimately did not attend Siena it went from being a safety to a final contender.

–In terms of admission they offered a very quick decision so my S was “in” by October which took a ton of stress off the entire process and saved us money as we did not apply to schools that were lower on his list.
–In terms of finances, Siena was less expensive than most private schools and offered merit aid.
–S did an overnight and was impressed by the students, professors he met there. The school moved way up on his list after that visit.

denison, dickinson, connecticut college, union, and rhodes!

Hobart & William Smith? RIT, WPI, Case Western?

Clarkson U

WPI, Olin

WPI because it has a truly pioneering approach which is easily missed by the general public, but much appreciated by the National Academy of Engineering (see Projects and interdisciplinary thinking in a teamwork environment are central here when one looks at the full four years program of studies.

Olin College of Engineering is underrated. The general public does not know who they are and what they are doing. They are hard at work revolutionizing the educational process.

Many smaller schools have a dedicated and creative faculty. Two schools in my home state of Maine that fit this description are College of the Atlantic and Unity college.

Innovation is a very challenging process in any system when it influences commonly accepted practices. Education is no different. Studies of “WPI alumni confirmed the findings of a 2014 Gallup-Purdue index poll that showed students who undertook long-term college projects report more career satisfaction and stronger connections to professional satisfaction, advancement, and personal enrichment.”

Neither of these schools have a “big ten” football team advertising for them. We do thank Purdue for their research!
I am sure you have heard of them, but outside of academia you may not know that they also do a lot of academic research.

. :bz


It is the responsibility of the college to make others aware.

Perhaps Olin chooses to remain under the radar so they don’t have to grow the size of the university. They are busy with their mission of collaborating with industry and other universities about revolutionizing the educational process. That way their long-term impact is more significant.

Public LACs seem to be under-noticed/appreciated/recommended on these forums.
That is in contrast to the strong advocacy of private LACs on these forums.

Thank you again! Public LACs list is very interesting. Just took a quick look and it appears there may are some real gems here we may not be aware of. Check out St Mary’s @ Yes, it is a public school with a great student faculty ratio of 10:1!

My guess is this problem is symptomatic of almost all small schools, public or private. It would be really nice to hear more CC conversation for students who don’t fit the HYP profile as information on these schools is more difficult to find.

If you are interested in marine engineering and ocean studies, look at Maine Maritime Academy @ It is public and on the coast of Maine.

If you are interested in environmental studies, interdisciplinary thinking and much more visit the College of The Atlantic in Bar Harbor Maine @ This private school has a 10:1 student faculty ratio and a beautiful location.

Unity College in Unity Maine has 17 environmental majors and a pathfinders program for first-year students who want to learn more about their career options before making a choice. See This private college is really in the country, but not on the ocean. The student faculty ratio is 15:1.

Yes, I live in Maine. It is a good place to study nature.


I wholeheartedly endorse St. Mary’s (SMCM) College of Maryland as a hidden gem. I am an alumna; my daughter currently attends and S18 was recently accepted. The quality of education at SMCM easily rivals that of the E-LACs and without all the stresses of such a higly competitive environment. In recent years, SMCM has added many programs, particularly those that focus on study abroad programs and internship opportunities. The school is very popular with students from the DC and Baltimore suburbs, but virtually unheard of outside the region. It’s a shame because even the OOS tuition is more affordable than many of the private LACs or universities.

@pbarhug probably a dumb question, but is SMCM ok with (quiet) atheists? I know other Catholic colleges say they’re open to all faiths and non faiths, but just wondering what your daughter’s input might be on that? Thanks.

@JeanJeanie SMCM is a public college not a private Catholic school so atheists and everyone else is welcome! In the Maryland public university/college system, SMCM is targeted as a small honors college with a liberal arts focus.

It’s located in historic St. Mary’s City in Maryland, hence the name.