30 Most Beautiful Best Small Colleges

Small Colleges

The main focus of any college is academics. But many college students realize the value of a beautiful campus. Soothing and pleasing surroundings encourage healthy lifestyles. They promote a good atmosphere for learning. This can lead to better grades and a connection to peers and the campus environment.

In this article, we highlight 30 small colleges that offer the best of both worlds.

  • Exceptional campus aesthetics
  • Outstanding academic offerings

The schools profiled below are small campus colleges. They have no more than 5,000 students. But they also offer strong academics. For more about how we selected the 30 best small colleges, see our methodology page.

Ranking the Best Small Colleges in the US

#30 – Hanover College

Hanover, Indiana

Points: 3

Student population: 1,083

College Website

A logo of Hanover College for our ranking of the 30 Most Beautiful Small Colleges in America
Nestled along the Ohio River, Hanover College offers a small scenic campus.

Undergraduate Tuition and Fees: $40,250

Hanover College is a private liberal arts college nestled above the Ohio River. It has a large wooded campus with access to the nearby Big Oaks National Wildlife Refuge and Clifty Falls State Park.

The college proclaims itself to be one of the “nation’s most scenic campuses.” But it also offers strong academics. It has a multidisciplinary approach to numerous majors. Students can major in interest-specific subjects. In these majors, your studies are project-based. This leads to an internship in your area of interest.

The school places a strong emphasis on:

  • Business
  • Education
  • Sciences (pre-med, environmental science, exercise science, psychology)

All students enrolled in the business program graduate with an interest-specific, project-based internship.

Hanover has received multiple rankings with U.S. News & World Report. These include #102 in best private liberal arts colleges. This is one of the best small liberal arts colleges out there.

#29 – College of the Atlantic

Bar Harbor, Maine

Points: 3

Student population: 376

College Website

A logo of the College of the Atlantic for our ranking of the 30 Most Beautiful Small Colleges in America
College of the Atlantic is a top-ranked national liberal arts college.

Undergraduate Tuition and Fees: $43,542

The College of the Atlantic is a small, private liberal arts college in a scenic town in Maine. The school approaches its academics from a human ecological perspective. What does this mean? It focuses on the relationships between humans and social and natural communities. If that interests you, then the school might be a good fit.

The human ecological perspective focuses on:

  • Activism
  • Collaborations among the students, faculty, staff, and alumni
  • Education
  • Research

The school also prides itself in its commitment to sustainability. It’s received recognition as one of the leading green colleges in the country. As one of the smaller universities on our list, it has a lot to offer.

#28 – Augustana College

Rock Island, Illinois

Points: 3

Student population: 2,367

College Website

A logo of Augustana College for our ranking of the 30 Most Beautiful Small Colleges in America
Augustana College has a wooded campus along the Mississippi River.

Undergraduate Tuition and Fees: $46,189

Looking for a small college campus with a woodsy feel? Augustana College offers this kind of setting.

The small university has a picturesque 115-acre campus along the Mississippi River. Many consider the college an “oasis within the city” because of its rolling river valley landscape and winding pathways.

The school’s small size is great for students who want to get to know their professors. Students have access to working on special research projects with faculty, which helps if graduate programs are on the horizon. They also get to engage with visiting scholars and lecturers.

But the “Augustana Community” gives students the chance to be more than scholars. The school has hundreds of student interest groups and activities you can join and participate in. The school’s also ranked among small liberal arts colleges by U.S. News and World Report.

#27 – Eastern University

Saint Davids, Pennsylvania

Points: 4

Student population: 4,429

College Website

A logo of Eastern University for our ranking of the 30 Most Beautiful Small Colleges in America
Built on a private estate, Eastern University offers a beautiful place to study.

Undergraduate Tuition and Fees: $35,590

Eastern University is one of the top small universities on our list. It offers a scenic campus with strong academic programs.

The Walton family owned the private estate before it became a college. Since its acquisition, the school has added many buildings. These include:

  • The Edison Room (houses drawings and artifacts belonging to Thomas Edison)
  • The Mazie Hall African American History Room
  • The Warner Memorial Library

The school has both undergraduate and graduate programs, but maintains a small campus feel. Of the student population, about 1,700 are undergraduates.

The school ranks with U.S. News. Its rankings include #113 in best regional schools in the North.

#26 – Covenant College

Lookout Mountain, Georgia

Points: 4

Student population: 914

College Website

A logo of Covenant College for our ranking of 30 Most Beautiful Small Colleges in America
Covenant College offers views of the Smoky Mountains.

Undergraduate Tuition and Fees: $37,770

Covenant College is a small, Christian college founded in 1955. It offers the best of both worlds – good academics and an intimate learning environment.

It also offers both city and country vibes. The campus is in close proximity to the metro area of Chattanooga. But it also has views of the Smoky Mountains outside your dorm windows. Due to the college’s close proximity to the city, you find many places to socialize or work.

Students get access to internship opportunities and recreational hotspots. You can participate in extreme sports, such as:

  • Hang gliding
  • Rock climbing
  • White-water rafting

There are also more conventional activities like hiking and camping nearby.

In terms of academics, CC ranks with U.S. News as a top liberal arts school. It ranks #147 in the country.

#25 – St. Olaf College

Northfield, Minnesota

Points: 4

Student population: 2,988

College Website

A logo of St. Olaf College for our ranking of the 30 Most Beautiful Small Colleges in America
You find St. Olaf College set in a small, historic river town.

Undergraduate Tuition and Fees: $52,670

Norwegian Lutheran immigrants established St. Olaf College in 1874. The school has evolved into a ranked liberal arts college with ties to the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. The school offers a unique educational experience based in:

  • Academic rigor
  • Global involvement
  • Residential learning
  • Vibrancy of the Lutheran faith and tradition

You find St. Olaf in a small historic river town 45 minutes from the twin cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul. It sits on a picturesque 300-acre campus and is home to many:

  • Academic and administrative buildings
  • Athletic facilities
  • Student residences

St. Olaf ranks with major publications like U.S. News. Current rankings include #13 in best value schools and #63 in best liberal arts schools.

#24 – Bard College

Annandale-On-Hudson, New York

Points: 4

Student population: 2,591

College Website

A logo of Bard College for our ranking of the 30 Most Beautiful Small Colleges in America
Picturesque Bard College offers a beautiful campus along the Hudson River Valley.

Undergraduate Tuition and Fees: $57,968

For small colleges east coast residents recognize as picturesque, Bard College is at the top of the list. This Hudson River Valley school borders forested land and the Hudson River.

But beyond its beautiful campus, there is a vibrant student life in small town Annandale. It offers:

  • Cultural events
  • Recreational opportunities
  • World-class performing arts venues

The college has more than 100 student clubs on campus, and new clubs start each semester. It provides students with a world-class campus setting where academic interests weave into a meaningful social life.

The school also ranks for academics. Its U.S. News rankings include #60 in best liberal arts schools.

#23 – The University of the South

Sewanee, Tennessee

Points: 4

Student population: 1,820

College Website

A logo of University of the South for our ranking of the 30 Most Beautiful Small Colleges in America
University of the South is small, but offers a strong sense of community.

Undergraduate Tuition and Fees: $49,418

Known as “Sewanee,” the University of the South offers strong academics in a pretty setting.

Students enjoy classes that are intentionally kept small. Rather than having teaching assistants lead courses, students receive instruction from experienced faculty. This gives students access to connect with their professors.

The school also boasts a strong acceptance rate for graduate and professional schools. Its numbers overreach many other schools of its kind. So if you want to attend graduate school, rest assured that Sewanee will help you prepare.

The campus overlooks the Tennessee Valley. It occupies 13,000 acres on the Cumberland Plateau. It includes many historic buildings constructed of materials faced with local stone. The construction helps the school maintain its traditional Gothic style.

For small colleges, the school ranks with U.S. News among the best.

#22 – Furman University

Greenville, South Carolina

Points: 4

Student population: 2,463

College Website

A logo of Furman University for our ranking of the 30 Most Beautiful Small Colleges in America
Furman University is the oldest South Carolina private college.

Undergraduate Tuition and Fees: $53,372

Furman University is a private, coeducational liberal arts college in a small area of South Carolina called Traveler’s Rest. Founded in 1826, Furman is the state’s oldest private university.

What makes the small college stand out is its enrollment. It keeps enrollment low on purpose. There are about 2,500 undergraduate students. This school in South Carolina points students in the right direction with small class sizes and a low student-to-faculty ratio.

Also on campus is an old-meets-new architectural design. You have modern buildings and social facilities situated near a historic Florentine bell tower. Other attractions include:

  • Asian garden
  • Replica of Henry David Thoreau’s cabin
  • Spring-fed lake

There are also 13 miles of paved trails through the woodlands and an 18-hole golf course.

The school has earned rankings with U.S. News. It ranks #45 as a top liberal arts college.

#21 – Point Loma Nazarene University

San Diego, California

Points: 4

Student population: 4,445

College Website

A logo of Point Loma Nazarene University for our ranking of 30 Most Beautiful Small Colleges in America
Point Loma Nazarene offers academic excellence on a small campus.

Undergraduate Tuition and Fees: $39,500

As one of the best small private colleges, Point Loma Nazarene University (PLNU) offers a “forward-thinking” approach to academics and community. Its faith-driven philosophy reaches students through its coursework rigor and unique campus experience.

But it is the setting that puts PLNU on the map of best small colleges with beautiful campuses. Its buildings exhibit a mindful design, each topped with amethyst domes. The domes light up at night and offer a scenic landscape across campus.

The small college offers many undergraduate and graduate areas of study. It also ranks with U.S. News as the 9th best regional western school.

#20 – Flagler College

Saint Augustine, Florida

Points: 5

Student population: 2,652

College Website

A logo of Flagler College for our ranking of the 30 Most Beautiful Small Colleges in America
You will find small class sizes and a beautiful campus at Flagler College.

Undergraduate Tuition and Fees: $21,140

Flagler College is a small college located in historic Saint Augustine, Florida. The highlight of the campus is the former Hotel Ponce de León. This beautiful hotel was built in 1888 by industrialist and philanthropist Henry M. Flagler. The presence of the Hotel Ponce de León is a reminder of the founder’s enterprise, effort, and commitment to excellence.

But the college offers the student body more than a scenic campus and historic structures. It has a low student-to-faculty ratio. Close to 80% of all classes contain less than 20 students.

Flagler also ranks with U.S. News as the 2nd best regional school in the South.

Other schools in Florida to consider include Florida Memorial University.

#19 – Agnes Scott College

Decatur, Georgia

Points: 5

Student population: 1,109

College Website

With a low student population, Agnes Scott College has an intimate learning environment.

Undergraduate Tuition and Fees: $44,250

Agnes Scott College, founded in 1889, is as an independent liberal arts college for women. It enrolls about 1,000 women each year. The mission of the school is to educate women to “think deeply, live honorably, and engage the intellectual and social challenges of their times.”

What makes the school a scenic small college is its Decatur location. This historic city is home to:

  • Diverse restaurants
  • Eclectic shops
  • Places of worship

Many places are within walking distance from campus. And Atlanta is only a short drive away.

The school also ranks high for academics. While it isn’t the most selective, it offers rigorous courses. U.S. News ranks the school #63 in best liberal arts colleges. It also ranks #26 for best value schools.

#18 – Mount Holyoke College

South Hadley, Massachusetts

Points: 5

Student population: 2,342

College Website

A logo of Mount Holyoke for our ranking of the 30 Most Beautiful Small Colleges in America
Mount Holyoke College offers one of the most beautiful small campuses in America.

Undergraduate Tuition and Fees: $56,518

Mount Holyoke College is a private, nondenominational research college for women. It is both small and scenic. But the size doesn’t limit all that the school offers.

The campus offers access to a botanical garden with multiple lakes and waterfalls. It also has:

  • Art museums
  • Stables
  • Tennis courts
  • Woodland riding trails

With an acceptance rate of 52%, the school keeps its classes small for academic purposes. The student-to-faculty ratio is 9 to 1. Students learn from medical pioneers and Pulitzer Prize-winning playwrights.

MHC also ranks with major publications like U.S. News. Its recent rankings include #36 in best liberal arts colleges and #40 in best value schools.

#17 – Union College

Schenectady, New York

Points: 5

Student population: 2,096

College Website

A logo of Union College for our ranking of the 30 Most Beautiful Small Colleges in America
Historic surroundings make Union College a most beautiful small college in America.

Undergraduate Tuition and Fees: $61,659

Union College is an old school founded in 1795. It is the first college chartered by the Board of Regents of the State of New York.

Not only is Union College historic, but it is a small college with a vibrant community. The campus sits on 130 acres in downtown Schenectady, New York. The college design is with a great central court lined with buildings and open spaces. A historic pantheon takes center state.

But the campus offers more than scenery and architecture. Its commitment to incorporating humanities and social sciences with science and engineering is a creative endeavor. Students learn many subjects no matter which major they choose.

Union also ranks with U.S. News. Its current rankings list in the top 50 for small, liberal arts college.

#16 – University of Richmond

University of Richmond, Virginia

Points: 5

Student population: 3,890

College Website

A logo of University of Richmond for our ranking of 30 Most Beautiful Small Colleges in America
The University of Richmond offers collegiate gothic style architecture in the heart of the city.

Undergraduate Tuition and Fees: $58,570

The University of Richmond is a private liberal arts university in Richmond, Virginia. The university is set on a 350-acre suburban campus six miles from downtown Richmond.

Its open courtyards and red brick buildings give the campus a collegiate, gothic style. Many of the original buildings were designed by Ralph Adams Cram in 1910. These include:

  • Jeter Hall and North Court
  • Library for Richmond College
  • Ryland Hall
  • The original administration building

The university has received multiple rankings with U.S. News. These include:

  • #15 in most innovative schools
  • #32 in best value schools
  • #18 in best national liberal arts schools

#15 – Bryn Mawr College

Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania

Points: 5

Student population: 1,778

College Website

A logo of Bryn Mawr College for our ranking of the 30 Most Beautiful Small Colleges in America
Bryn Mawr has a lush, hilly, beautiful campus with a diverse student body.

Undergraduate Tuition and Fees: $56,320

Bryn Mawr College is a private women’s college set in a suburban community. It is four miles west of downtown Philadelphia, which means the college is rich with history and unique architecture.

The phrase “bryn mawr” means “big hill” in Welsh. As such, the campus setting is a lush, hilly terrain. But there’s more to Bryn Mawr than its setting. A low student-to-faculty ratio keeps classes small. Most courses have less than 20 students. Due to the small campus size, students feel valued. They’re able to form close bonds with faculty and mentors. Students can participate in:

  • Core seminars
  • Independent and faculty-sponsored research
  • Interdisciplinary courses

With all that Bryn Mawr offers, it should come as no surprise that the school ranks high with publications like U.S. News.

#14 – Rollins College

Winter Park, Florida

Points: 5

Student population: 3,057

College Website

A logo of Rollins College for our ranking of the 30 Most Beautiful Small Colleges in America
Beautiful small colleges! Rollins College offers Spanish Mediterranean architecture and design.

Undergraduate Tuition and Fees: $54,740

Rollins College is a scenic small college with an award-winning campus. It sits on the shores of Lake Virginia and offers a place for students to thrive and learn.

The 80-acre campus is a charming and historic community in Winter Park, Florida. But its close proximity to Orlando provides places to dine, shop, and entertain. All buildings on the Rollins campus boast Spanish-Mediterranean style, which provides a charming backdrop for studying or relaxing.

With all that the school offers, it’s surprising how small the campus feels. The school keeps its classes small with a low student-to-faculty ratio 12:1.

Rollins has also received rankings from U.S. News. It ranks:

  • #1 in best regional universities in the South
  • #13 in best value schools

#13 – Berry College

Mount Berry, Georgia

Points: 5

Student population: 2,303

College Website

A logo of Berry College for our ranking of the 30 Most Beautiful Small Colleges in America
Berry College is a small college with high academic standards.

Undergraduate Tuition and Fees: $38,656

Berry College is a private, Christian liberal arts college founded in 1902. It offers a rigorous academic program based on Christian values and principles.

As far as academics go, Berry stands out among other schools. Students get preparation for graduate programs because of the school’s size. Students get access to mentorship and practical work experience. Internships and community service opportunities abound.

While classes are small, the campus is expansive. It covers more than 27,000 acres of woodlands, meadows, and streams.

But beyond its picturesque landscape, the school ranks with U.S. News. It ranks #3 in best universities in the South and #1 in best value schools.

#12 – Sweet Briar College

Sweet Briar, Virginia

Points: 5

Student population: 454

College Website

A logo of Sweet Briar College for our ranking of the 30 Most Beautiful Small Colleges in America
With 30 historic buildings, lakes, and nature sanctuaries, Sweet Briar College ranks among most beautiful colleges.

Undergraduate Tuition and Fees: $23,080

Among small colleges with scenic campuses, Sweet Briar College ranks high. This private college for women sits on 2,840 acres in Central Virginia. Named after a type of rose grown on the founding family’s estate, Sweet Briar is home to:

  • 30 historic buildings
  • Six nature sanctuaries
  • Two lakes

It also offers access to the Virginia Blue Ridge Mountains, with its many recreational opportunities. Due to its mountain location, one of the most popular pastimes for students is horseback riding. Students also enjoy hiking.

#11 – Lewis & Clark College

Portland, Oregon

Points: 5

Student population: 3,499

College Website

A logo of Lewis and Clark College for our ranking of the 30 Most Beautiful Small Colleges in America
Sustainable landscape puts Lewis & Clark College on the map for beautiful small colleges.

Undergraduate Tuition and Fees: $57,404

Lewis & Clark College is a small college located in Portland, Oregon. It offers a beautiful campus that is part of a sustainable movement.

The school is home to:

  • Athletic facilities
  • Libraries
  • Nationally recognized green buildings

Lewis & Clark College has worked to combine technology and innovative research to further the education of its students. It also commits itself to a sustainability movement across campuses nationwide. It offers sustainable landscaping and a green commitment.

The school has also earned rankings with U.S. News. Its current rankings include #70 in best value schools.

#10 – Rhodes College

Memphis, Tennessee

Points: 5

Student population: 2,073

College Website

A logo of Rhodes College for our ranking of the 30 Most Beautiful Small Colleges in America
Ranked as a top small college – Rhodes College.

Undergraduate Tuition and Fees: $50,910

One of the most beautiful small colleges on our list is Rhodes College. This private, coeducational school commits itself to furthering arts and sciences.

The 123-acre campus sits in the heart of historic Midtown Memphis, Tennessee. It has collegiate-gothic style architecture and innovative buildings. The walkways, courtyards, residence halls, common areas, and classrooms were all created to:

  • Encourage conversation
  • Further the exchange of ideas
  • Help students make important connections with their peers

Rhodes ranks with major publications like U.S. News. Its rankings include #73 in best value and #55 in liberal arts schools.

#9 – Illinois Institute of Technology

Chicago, Illinois

Points: 6

Student undergraduate population: 2,998

College Website

A logo of Illinois Institute of Technology for our ranking of the 30 Most Beautiful Small Colleges in America
Illinois Tech is a small scenic college ranked as a best national university.

Undergraduate Tuition and Fees: $50,490

Illinois Institute of Technology is a private, technology-driven, research university with a beautiful campus. It sits on 120 acres in Chicago.

The school’s historic architecture has placed its campus on the National Register of Historic Places. Renowned architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe designed the main campus. But the school offers many different scenic campuses in:

  • Bedford Park
  • Downtown Chicago
  • River North neighborhood.

The school has both undergraduate and graduate programs in engineering, science, and more. Academics and an innovative campus make IIT stand out among other schools. Its rankings with U.S. News include:

  • #127 in best national universities
  • #44 in best value schools

#8 – Hamilton College

Clinton, New York

Points: 6

Student population: 2,055

College Website

A logo of Hamilton College for our ranking of the 30 Most Beautiful Small Colleges in America
Hamilton College ranks as a beautiful small college in America.

Undergraduate Tuition and Fees: $59,970

Hamilton College is a private school located on a scenic 1,300-acre campus outside Utica, New York. It offers rigorous academics and a small college environment.

The campus sits on a hilltop overlooking the picturesque village of Clinton. It has a quaint, New England-style vibe with nearby shopping and dining opportunities. Prospective students also get access to the close proximity of:

  • Adirondack Park
  • City of Syracuse

But beyond the scenery, Hamilton offers a strong liberal arts education. It ranks with U.S. News among some of the best liberal arts institutions in the country.

#7 – Vassar College

Poughkeepsie, New York
Points: 6
Student population: 2,516
College Website

A logo of Vassar College for our ranking of the 30 Most Beautiful Small Colleges in America
Formal gardens and manicured lawns make Vassar an outstanding beautiful small college.

Undergraduate Tuition and Fees: $62,870

Vassar College is a selective, small college known for its pretty campus and academic excellence.

It ranks high among the top schools of its kind. Current rankings with U.S. News list Vassar as the 13th best liberal arts education institutions.

You find Vassar in a residential area three miles from the city center of Poughkeepsie, New York. While the area is small, the school is only 75 miles north of New York City. Its sprawling and scenic 1000-acre campus features:

  • Academic buildings
  • Formal gardens
  • Manicured lawns
  • Meadows and woodlands of the Vassar farm

The campus has more than 100 academic and residential buildings. They range in style from collegiate gothic to modernist. They also include two National Historic Landmarks.

Vassar’s academics are strong. Programs prepare students with an undergraduate education that serves them well for graduate programs and graduate degrees.

#6 – Colgate University

Hamilton, New York

Points: 6

Student population: 3,176

College Website

A logo of Colgate University for our ranking of the 30 Most Beautiful Small Colleges in America
Find a diverse student body and scenic college campus at Colgate University.

Undergraduate Tuition and Fees: $61,966

Colgate University is a small, private college located in central New York state. The school offers small classes, with a strong focus on faculty-student relationships.

The 553-acre campus is home to:

  • 88 buildings
  • 2,300 established trees
  • Miles of pathways and walkways

Most of the academic buildings date back to 1827. West Hall was hand-built by faculty and students from stone taken from a campus quarry.

But as scenic as the school is, it’s also selective and rigorous. It ranks high with major publications like U.S. News as a top, best value school.

#5 – Kenyon College

Gambier, Ohio

Points: 6

Student population: 1,875

College Website

A logo of Kenyon College for our ranking of the 30 Most Beautiful Small Colleges in America
Kenyon College has a small campus vibe and diverse student body.

Undergraduate Tuition and Fees: $63,310

Kenyon College is a private, small college dedicated to arts and sciences. It’s located in Gambier, Ohio on a scenic 1,000-acre campus 45 miles from the state’s capital of Columbus.

The campus includes a 480-acre nature preserve. The preserve borders the Kokosing River and includes woodland, prairie, and wetland habitats. It also features various gardens.

Many of the school’s biology classes conduct research in the campus sanctuaries. Students also participate in hikes and nature walks along the campus trails.

But beyond the natural landscape you find at Kenyon, the school ranks with U.S. News as a top school.

#4 – Swarthmore College

Swarthmore, Pennsylvania

Points: 9

Student population: 1,651

College Website

A logo of Swarthmore College for our ranking of 30 Most Beautiful Small Colleges in America
Rolling lawns, wooded hills, and hiking trails make Swarthmore a beautiful small college.

Undergraduate Tuition and Fees: $56,056

Swarthmore College is a private small college located near Philadelphia. It offers a tranquil and scenic learning environment dedicated to providing areas that improve student success.

The school’s 425-acre arboretum campus features:

  • Creeks
  • Hiking trails
  • Rolling lawns
  • Wooded hill

Located 11 miles outside of downtown Philadelphia, students get access to coffee shops, cafes, and restaurants.

But beyond the beautiful campus, the school offers undergraduate and graduate degrees. The admission process is selective (9% selectivity rate). It also ranks high with U.S. News as a best value school.

#3 – Wellesley College

Wellesley, Massachusetts

Points: 9

Student population: 2,461

College Website

A logo of Wellesley College for our ranking of the 30 Most Beautiful Small Colleges in America
Private lakes, groves, and winding paths near Boston – Wellesley College!

Undergraduate Tuition and Fees: $60,752

Wellesley College is a private, nonprofit college for women. Located 12 miles west of Boston, Wellesley offers a beautiful campus with a lot to offer the student body.

The campus has:

  • A golf club
  • Groves
  • Private lake
  • Winding paths through open meadows

You also find on campus historic brick and stone buildings that rise from the wooded hills. The landscape is important to the identity of the school and to the experience of its students. College founders believed young women should be educated in the midst of beauty.

Wellesley also ranks high for academics. Its current rankings with U.S. News include #5 in best liberal arts and #6 in best value schools.

#2 – Florida Southern College

Lakeland, Florida

Points: 9

Student population: 3,386

College Website

A logo of Florida Southern College for our ranking of the 30 Most Beautiful Small Colleges in America
Florida Southern College – a top-ranked, accredited, and most beautiful small college.

Undergraduate Tuition and Fees: $38,980

Florida Southern College (FSC) is a private, small college located in Lakeland, Florida. It is the oldest private college in the state.

What makes the college stand out is its architecture. It is home to the world’s largest single-site collection of Frank Lloyd Wright. On the 100-acre campus there are 60 buildings with an orange grove on the north shore of Lake Hollingsworth.

Also nearby is a booming arts community in Lakeland. It is home to the annual Festival of Fine Arts, which showcases world-class artists in:

  • Ballet
  • Concerts
  • Jazz
  • Opera
  • Plays

FSC also ranks with U.S. News for its undergraduate and graduate degree programs. Its recent rankings include #8 in best regional universities in the South and #11 in best value schools.

#1 – Scripps College

Claremont, California

Points: 10

Student population: 1,116

College Website

A logo of Scripps College for our ranking of the 30 Most Beautiful Small Colleges in America
Scripps College – the most beautiful small college in America!

Undergraduate Tuition and Fees: $58,442

Topping the list for best national liberal arts colleges is Scripps College. Founded in 1926 as a liberal arts institution for women, the school now leads in many different areas of academics and aesthetics.

The school is a member of the Claremont Colleges System of Schools. The National Register of Historic Places lists it as part of the registry. Its architectural highlights include a rose garden between Toll and Browning Halls. Students can cut fresh roses and bring them to their rooms.

Also on campus are:

  • Fruit trees
  • Olive trees
  • Strawberry plants

The scent of orange blossoms and wisteria perfume is also a constant throughout the campus.

Scripps ranks with U.S. News as a top public liberal arts university. It has a diverse student body and dedication to academics.

______________

Frequently Asked Questions

What makes a college campus beautiful?

A beautiful college campus means more than curb appeal. Colleges that have received recognition for their beauty have invested time and money into making their surroundings eye-pleasing. Combined with strong academics, a college can create a learning environment that promotes student success.

But what makes a campus beautiful?

According to Travel & Leisure’s 2021 ranking of America’s Most Beautiful College Campuses, beauty reaches beyond students and families. The nation’s most beautiful college campuses attract tourists from around the globe. Visitors flock to see:

  • Impressive architecture
  • Manicured gardens and lawns
  • Noteworthy landmarks

Some college campuses, such as those on our list, have resort-style living. Others offer European-inspired Gothic architecture.

Most college campuses in the United States were built during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. These campuses featured unified styles. They drew from historic English architecture.

Others found inspiration from the Federal, Gothic, neoclassical, and Romanesque movements. At the time of construction, these colleges called on renowned architects to help design the layout of the campus. Other campuses incorporated world-renowned artists’ styles into their design and architecture.

The colleges on our list have more beautiful campuses and unique landscape design. Schools like Harvey Mudd College, Pomona College, and Williams College have manicured quads. They also offer woodlands, and lakes. They provide tranquil settings for students to learn and thrive.

What are the benefits of attending a small college?

U.S. News lists advantages of attending a small college over a “mega-university.” By definition, small colleges, like those on our list, have a student enrollment of less than 5,000. Many smaller colleges do not have a graduate school. They also offer low student/faculty ratios below 10:1.

Read on for more benefits of attending small colleges.

Instruction by professors

Unlike large universities, some small colleges don’t have graduate students. Without graduate students, the schools don’t provide teaching experience. This means that professors teach your classes instead of graduate school students. You won’t have inexperienced teaching assistants like graduate students leading labs or classes.

One-on-one contact

At larger universities, you see your professors from afar. But in smaller colleges, students can get to know their professors. Professors will check your work and provide feedback that’s personal. The student body can also get to know instructors through mentorship and research opportunities.

Small class sizes

Some small colleges keep their classes small on purpose. Even the largest lectures have caps of 50 students. Most classes don’t exceed 20 students. With a more intimate learning environment, you can participate in class discussions. You also get to know your professors.

What are the benefits of attending a beautiful college?

Beautiful college campuses benefit students. With the many anxieties college students face, it’s important to find a school that has ways to reduce stressors. One of these ways is to find a beautiful campus to enjoy.

Why?

Aesthetics are important when choosing a college to attend. Below we discuss how a beautiful setting can help students succeed.

Get better grades

Studies show that a college campus matters when it comes to a student’s academic performance. How? An English major studying in a windowless, low-lit library will not perform as well as someone studying in a hall that overlooks an expansive green space with a lake and aspen trees.

Promote healthy lifestyle

You form healthy life habits when you’re young. In college, you learn how to meet deadlines and manage responsibilities. Your classes teach you how to study and keep structured schedules.

Beautiful college campuses have spaces that promote a healthy lifestyle. Natural spaces are available for students to:

  • Hike
  • Mountain bike
  • Practice mindfulness
  • Sit and study outdoors
  • Take yoga classes

Sense of tradition

When you’re surrounded by historic buildings and landmarks, you gain a sense of pride. Students become part of the long tradition of a college that has offered education to generations of students. This creates a sense of pride. You feel like you belong. You stay connected to your college even after you graduate.

What makes a small college selective?

College selectivity is a measure of how difficult admission is. Schools measure selectivity by the percentage of students who apply compared to those admitted.

The lower the admission percentage, the more selective the school is. Some of the most selective small colleges admit less than a third of all applicants. Some of the toughest schools admit less than 10%.

There are different selectivity categories. Some schools are selective because they admit a specialized type of student. A school like Juilliard, which is interested in students with demonstrated musical ability and talent, uses this type of selection process. West Point, a military academy, looks for certain scores on physical fitness assessments.

Other schools that use this type of selectivity factor include California Institute of Technology. Most graduate programs enroll students based on this type of selective process.

Some colleges base their selectivity on academics. These schools receive thousands of applicants each year and only accept the most high-achieving students. Schools with very low acceptance rates include the Ivy League schools and institutions like Duke University, Stanford, MIT, and California Institute of Technology.

Selective schools look at GPA, SAT, or ACT scores, as well as academic promise. The most selective institutions, and some small colleges, also appreciate:

  • Advocacy
  • Drive
  • Out-of-the-box thinking
  • Passion

They look for candidates with specific interests that will bring something unique to their institution.

Why is it important to visit a beautiful small college?

Prospective students should visit a college before applying. College tours allow students to:

  • Ask questions that are not answered on the school website
  • Get to know the college on a deeper level
  • Meet with other prospective students

On a college visit, you will hear from current students. You might even meet with a professor or advisor who can answer questions about your potential major.

If you have the chance to visit a beautiful college campus, you will experience the setting through all of your senses. This can give you a better perspective on which college you want to apply to.

Without a college visit, it is difficult to get a sense of how the place will feel. College catalogs, websites, and other materials can only reveal so much. They don’t allow you to experience the sounds, smells, and overall aesthetics.

During a college visit, you get a sense of the school’s character. You also get to see what the student body is like. You walk through the quad, listen to students talk, and get an overall vibe of the school. No website can reveal what a visit will.

Other Schools to Consider

  • Florida Memorial University
  • Harvey Mudd College
  • Pomona College
  • Prairie View A&M (Historically Black University)
  • Williams College
  • Xavier University (Historically Black University)

BDP Staff
January 2023

You are free to use the award badge from this article for your own publication or promotion. You can find the high resolution version here.

Related Resources:

This concludes our ranking of the 30 most beautiful small colleges in America.

Brenda Rufener
Author

Julie McCaulley
Expert

Carrie Sealey-Morris
Editor-in-Chief