The 30 Best and Most Beautiful Small Colleges in America

Small Colleges

While the primary focus of any college is academics, many students are realizing the value of a beautiful campus. Aesthetically pleasing surroundings can encourage healthy lifestyles, allow students to become part of something greater than themselves, and ultimately provide an environment that leads to better grades. In this article, we highlight 30 small schools that offer the best of both worlds: outstanding academic offerings and exceptional campus aesthetics. The schools we profile here are considered to be small institutions, but they are among the most charming, highest-achieving, and most accomplished schools of their kind.

For more about our how we selected these institutions, see our methodology page.

Ranking the Best of the Most Beautiful Small College Campuses in America

#30 – Hanover College

Hanover, Indiana
Points: 3
Student population: 1,028
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 campus recognized as one of the most scenic.

Undergraduate Tuition and Fees: $39,650

Hanover College, a private liberal arts college nestled just above the Ohio River, sits on 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.” The college offers a multidisciplinary approach to numerous majors and even the opportunity to major in a discipline that suits you personally. The school places a strong emphasis on the sciences (pre-med, environmental science, exercise science, psychology), education, and business. 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, including #98 in best national liberal arts colleges.

#29 – College of the Atlantic

Bar Harbor, Maine
Points: 3
Student population: 370
College Website

A logo of the College of the Atlantic for our ranking of the 30 Most Beautiful Small Colleges in America
Ranked and accredited, College of the Atlantic is a best national liberal arts college.

Undergraduate Tuition and Fees: $43,542

The College of the Atlantic is a small private liberal arts college in one of the most scenic towns in Maine. The school’s human ecological perspective “integrates knowledge from all academic disciplines and from personal experience to investigate — and ultimately improve — the relationships between human beings and our social and natural communities.” This human ecological perspective directs all aspects of education, research, activism, and collaborations between the students, faculty, staff, and alumni. The school prides itself in its commitment to sustainability and has been recognized as one of the leading green colleges in the country. In addition to is “green” recognition, COA has earned a top ranking from U.S. News & World Report as the 92nd best national liberal arts college.

#28 – Augustana College

Rock Island, Illinois
Points: 3
Student population: 2,389
College Website

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

Undergraduate Tuition and Fees: $45,136

Augustana College, a private liberal arts college located on a picturesque 115-acre campus near the Mississippi River, is a highly selective school with a small-college feel. The campus is set on a wooded campus with a rolling river valley landscape and winding pathways. It is considered by students, faculty, and visitors alike to be an “oasis within the city.” The small size allows students to work closely with faculty on special projects and research, as well as engaging with visiting scholars and lecturers. The “Augustana Community” gives students the chance to be more than scholars, with hundreds of student interest groups and activities. In addition to all else Augustana offers, the school ranks with major publications like U.S. News & World Report as the 92nd best national liberal arts college.

#27 – Eastern University

Saint Davids, Pennsylvania
Points: 4
Student population: 3,504
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 – a best, most beautiful college.

Undergraduate Tuition and Fees: $34,706

Eastern University is a private, co-educational Christian university located near Philadelphia. The school offers both undergraduate and graduate programs and is affiliated with the American Baptist Church of the United States. The main campus is set on 114 acres of beautiful rolling landscape. The campus was originally a private estate owned by the Walton family. It has since grown through acquisition of surrounding buildings, including the Warner Memorial Library housed in the Harold Howard Center, The Mazie Hall African American History Room containing books and memorabilia from a local educator, and The Edison Room, which houses several drawings and artifacts which belonged to Thomas Edison. Eastern University ranks with U.S. News & World Report as the 103rd best regional university in the North.

#26 – Covenant College

Lookout Mountain, Georgia
Points: 4
Student population: 911
College Website

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

Undergraduate Tuition and Fees: $36,710

Covenant College, a Christian liberal arts college founded in 1955, offers a campus nestled on Lookout Mountain, on the border between Georgia and Tennessee. The 400-acre campus stretches across the mountain and gives way to incredible views of the Smoky Mountains. The campus is in close proximity to metropolitan Chattanooga, Tennessee, which offers plentiful internship opportunities and places to hang out with friends. Surrounding areas also offer many recreational hotspots for the student who loves the outdoors. Students will enjoy extreme sports, such as rock climbing, hang-gliding, and white-water rafting, along with more conventional activities like hiking and camping. In addition to all that Covenant’s location offers, the school has earned rankings with U.S. News & World Report as the 146th best national liberal arts college.

#25 – St. Olaf College

Northfield, Minnesota
Points: 4
Student population: 2,953
College Website

A logo of St. Olaf College for our ranking of the 30 Most Beautiful Small Colleges in America
Set in a small, historic river town. St. Olaf College – a most beautiful small college.

Undergraduate Tuition and Fees: $51,450

Norwegian Lutheran immigrants established St. Olaf College in 1874. The school has evolved into a nationally ranked liberal arts college with ties to the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. St. Olaf offers a unique educational experience based in academic rigor, residential learning, global involvement, and the vibrancy of the Lutheran faith and tradition. The school is set in a small historic river town just a 45-minute drive from the twin cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul. The college sits on a picturesque 300-acre campus and is home to numerous academic and administrative buildings, student residences, and athletic facilities. St. Olaf ranks with major publications like U.S. News & World Report as the 62nd best national liberal arts college.

#24 – Bard College

Annandale-On-Hudson, New York
Points: 4
Student population: 2,465
College Website

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

Undergraduate Tuition and Fees: $56,036

Bard College has evolved into a thriving liberal arts college. Student life in small town Annandale is vibrant, with world-class performing arts venues, a plethora of student activities, and various cultural and recreational opportunities in the surrounding historic Hudson River Valley and in New York City. The college offers more than 100 student clubs on campus, with new clubs beginning each semester. The beautiful rural setting is home to Bard’s undergraduate program and many of Bard’s institutes. Bard is considered a residential college, providing students with a world-class campus setting where academic interests can be woven into a meaningful social life. The campus borders forested land and the Hudson River. In addition to its picturesque setting, Bard College is recognized by U.S. News & World Report as the 62nd best national liberal arts college, tied with St. Olaf.

#23 – The University of the South

Sewanee, Tennessee
Points: 4
Student population: 1,800
College Website

A logo of University of the South for our ranking of the 30 Most Beautiful Small Colleges in America
Small with a strong sense of community – University of the South.

Undergraduate Tuition and Fees: $47,980

Students know The University of the South as simply “Sewanee.” The University offers a top-notch educational experience, remaining intentionally small with a dedication to creating a strong sense of community. Classes are taught by professors rather than graduate teaching assistants. Students enjoy close interaction with faculty members to ensure a rich and personalized experience. The acceptance rate to graduate and professional schools far overreaches other liberal arts colleges. The Sewanee campus overlooks the striking Tennessee Valley, which occupies 13,000 acres on the Cumberland Plateau. The campus includes several historic buildings constructed of materials faced with local stone, many in traditional Gothic style. Sewanee also ranks nationally as a top liberal arts college.

#22 – Furman University

Greenville, South Carolina
Points: 4
Student population: 2,567
College Website

A logo of Furman University for our ranking of the 30 Most Beautiful Small Colleges in America
Plentiful scenic attractions at the small college of Furman University.

Undergraduate Tuition and Fees: $52,092

Furman University is a private, coeducational liberal arts college located in the small area of Traveler’s Rest, South Carolina, just north of Greenville. Founded in 1826, Furman is South Carolina’s oldest private university. The school enrolls approximately 2,600 undergraduate students. The campus is complete with sophisticated modern architecture seen in the many academic buildings and recreational and social facilities throughout the area. The 750-acre campus boasts a number of attractions, including an Asian garden, a replica of Henry David Thoreau’s cabin, the David E. Shi Center for Sustainability, a historic Florentine bell tower, a spring-fed lake, 13 miles of paved trails through the woodlands for hiking and biking, and an 18-hole golf course. In addition to all that the campus offers, the school has earned rankings with U.S. News & World Report as the 46th best national liberal arts college, as well as other noteworthy accolades.

#21 – Point Loma Nazarene University

San Diego, California
Points: 4
Student population: 4,616
College Website

A logo of Point Loma Nazarene University for our ranking of 30 Most Beautiful Small Colleges in America
Point Loma Nazarene is located in oceanfront San Diego, California.

Undergraduate Tuition and Fees: $38,300

Point Loma Nazarene University (PLNU), a private Christian liberal arts college, is located on the Point Loma oceanfront in San Diego, California. The Church of the Nazarene founded the school in 1902 as a Bible college. PLNU is now better known for its “forward-thinking” philosophy in academics, faith, and community. Buildings throughout the college were mindfully designed and topped with beautiful amethyst domes, which are lighted at night and can be seen offshore. In addition to the beautiful architecture, Point Loma offers numerous undergraduate and graduate areas of study. The school also ranks with U.S. News & World Report as the 12th best regional university in the West.

#20 – Flagler College

Saint Augustine, Florida
Points: 5
Student population: 2,687
College Website

A logo of Flagler College for our ranking of the 30 Most Beautiful Small Colleges in America
Small classes intentionally capped – Flagler College, a most beautiful small college.

Undergraduate Tuition and Fees: $20,040

Flagler College is a small private liberal arts college located in historic Saint Augustine, Florida. The highlight of the campus is the former Hotel Ponce de León, a beautiful hotel built in 1888 by Henry M. Flagler, industrialist, philanthropist, railroad pioneer, and land developer along the east coast of Florida. The presence of the Hotel Ponce de León is a reminder of the founder’s enterprise, effort, and commitment to excellence. The college is committed to maintaining the splendor of the hotel as well as other historic structures found on its campus. The student-to-faculty ratio is kept small. Close to 80% of all classes contain 20 students or less. Flagler also ranks with U.S. News & World Report as the fourth best regional college in the South.

#19 – Agnes Scott College

Decatur, Georgia
Points: 5
Student population: 1,080
College Website

With a student population of 1,080, Agnes Scott College offers small classes with an intimate learning environment.

Undergraduate Tuition and Fees: $44,250

Agnes Scott College was founded in 1889 as an independent liberal arts college for women. The school is affiliated with the Presbyterian Church of the United States and enrolls about 1,000 women. The mission of the school is to educate women to “think deeply, live honorably, and engage the intellectual and social challenges of their times.” The school is located in Decatur, GA, which is just outside of the metropolitan city of Atlanta. What makes the school a beautiful small college is its location. Decatur itself is an historic city of homes, schools, and places of worship. The quaint college town offers eclectic shops and restaurants within easy walking distance. Agnes is a moderately selective institution that has received rankings from U.S. News & World Report. Their current rankings include #66 in best national liberal arts colleges and #40 in best value schools.

#18 – Mount Holyoke College

South Hadley, Massachusetts
Points: 5
Student population: 2,040
College Website

A logo of Mount Holyoke for our ranking of the 30 Most Beautiful Small Colleges in America
Ranked and accredited, Mount Holyoke College is considered a beautiful small college in America.

Undergraduate Tuition and Fees: $54,618

Mount Holyoke College is a private, selective, nondenominational, residential, research liberal arts college for women. The school is widely recognized for training women leaders, from medical pioneers to Pulitzer Prize-winning playwrights. The campus includes a botanical garden, multiple lakes, waterfalls, tennis courts, stables and woodland riding trails, and Mount Holyoke College Art Museum. The school is considered more selective than some liberal arts colleges, with an acceptance rate of 52%. Classes are kept small and correspond with the student-to-faculty ratio of nine to one. Mount Holyoke also ranks with major publications like U.S. News & World Report. Recent rankings include #30 in best national liberal arts colleges and #78 in best value schools.

#17 – Union College

Schenectady, New York
Points: 5
Student population: 2,047
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: $59,502

Union College was founded in 1795 as the first college chartered by the Board of Regents of the State of New York. The college is a small, residential, independent liberal arts college with a commitment to incorporating the humanities and social sciences with science and engineering in unique and creative ways. The Union College campus sits upon 130 acres in downtown Schenectady, New York. The college is designed with a great central court with three sides lined with beautiful buildings and open space to the west. There is a beautiful historic pantheon that takes center stage. At the very center of the campus grounds stands Union’s most unique building, the distinctive Nott Memorial. In addition to its unique architecture and landscape, Union is recognized for its academics and reputation. Union ranks with U.S. News & World Report as the 50th best national liberal arts college.

#16 – University of Richmond

University of Richmond, Virginia
Points: 5
Student population: 4,056
College Website

A logo of University of Richmond for our ranking of 30 Most Beautiful Small Colleges in America
Innovative and scenic! The University of Richmond earns a spot on the list of most beautiful small colleges.

Undergraduate Tuition and Fees: $56,860

The University of Richmond is a private, nonsectarian liberal arts university located in Richmond, Virginia. The university is set on a 350-acre suburban campus located six miles from downtown Richmond and 90 miles from Washington, D.C. Most of the campus lies within Richmond city limits. The school maintains the tradition of the original architectural plans for the campus, including red brick buildings in the collegiate gothic style centered around open courtyards and lawns. Many of the original buildings, including Jeter Hall and North Court, the residence halls, Ryland Hall, the original administration building, and the library for Richmond College, were designed by Ralph Adams Cram in 1910 as part of a movement toward planned college campuses. The institution ranks #16 in most innovative schools, #25 in best value schools, and #22 in best national liberal arts colleges.

#15 – Bryn Mawr College

Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania
Points: 5
Student population: 1,634
College Website

A logo of Bryn Mawr College for our ranking of the 30 Most Beautiful Small Colleges in America
Intentionally small – Bryn Mawr offers a lush, hilly, beautiful campus.

Undergraduate Tuition and Fees: $54,440

Bryn Mawr College is a private women’s liberal arts college in a suburban community, four miles west of downtown Philadelphia. The phrase “bryn mawr” means “big hill” in Welsh, and the campus is situated amidst beautiful hilly terrain. The setting is a historic and lush suburban campus, offering small classes with fewer than 20 students each. The student-to-faculty ratio is just eight to one, making it one of the schools to offer the smallest class sizes on our list. Due to the intentionally small size, student feels valued and able to form close bonds with faculty and mentors. There are many opportunities for students to participate in independent and faculty-sponsored research, core seminars, and interdisciplinary courses. In addition to all that Bryn Mawr offers, the school ranks high with U.S. News & World Report as the 30th best national liberal arts college.

#14 – Rollins College

Winter Park, Florida
Points: 5
Student population: 3,104
College Website

A logo of Rollins College for our ranking of the 30 Most Beautiful Small Colleges in America
Rollins College offers a campus built in the style of Spanish Mediterranean architecture and design.

Undergraduate Tuition and Fees: $53,716

Ranked number one in best regional universities in the South, Rollins College earns a spot on our list of 30 best beautiful small colleges. The campus at Rollins is located in Winter Park, Florida, a charming and historic residential community near the larger city of Orlando. The award-winning campus is settled on the shores of Lake Virginia and very close to prime dining spots, shopping, and entertainment at Winter Park’s famous Park Avenue. The 80-acre campus is designed in the Spanish-Mediterranean style of architecture, adding to its charm. Rollins offers small class sizes with a student-to-faculty ratio of 12 to one.

#13 – Berry College

Mount Berry, Georgia
Points: 5
Student population: 2,125
College Website

A logo of Berry College for our ranking of the 30 Most Beautiful Small Colleges in America
Beautiful meadows and woodlands are found on the Berry College campus.

Undergraduate Tuition and Fees: $37,946

Berry College is a private, coeducational, Christian school founded in 1902. The college emphasizes a rigorous academic program with exceptionally high academic standards, based on Christian values and principles. Students have an opportunity to add to their classroom experience by participating in practical work experience and community service. Berry has the world’s largest contiguous college campus, covering more than 27,000 acres of woodlands, meadows, and streams. In addition to its picturesque landscape, Berry College ranks with U.S. News & World Report as fourth in best regional universities in the South and first in best value schools. Also, Berry is fully accredited.

#12 – Sweet Briar College

Sweet Briar, Virginia
Points: 5
Student population: 362
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 is a most beautiful small institution.

Undergraduate Tuition and Fees: $22,700

Named after a type of rose grown on the founding family’s estate, Sweet Briar College is a private liberal arts institution for women located in Central Virginia on 2,840 beautiful acres. Sweet Briar is the fourth largest campus in the country, with all 2,840 acres located in the foothills of the Virginia Blue Ridge Mountains. It boasts 30 historic buildings, six nature sanctuaries, and two lakes. The college is also located about 100 miles west of the state capitol of Richmond. Due to its location, one of the popular pastimes for students attending Sweet Briar is horseback riding. The school has also received rankings with U.S. News & World Report as the 165th best national liberal arts college.

#11 – Lewis & Clark College

Portland, Oregon
Points: 5
Student population: 3,157
College Website

A logo of Lewis and Clark College for our ranking of the 30 Most Beautiful Small Colleges in America
Sustainable landscape! Lewis & Clark College – a beautiful small college.

Undergraduate Tuition and Fees: $55,266

Lewis & Clark College is a private liberal arts college located in Portland, Oregon. The school is home to beautiful libraries, nationally recognized green buildings, and athletic facilities. Lewis & Clark College has worked to combine technology and innovative research to further the education of its students. The school has also committed to becoming part of the vibrant sustainability movement across campuses nationwide. In addition to its sustainable landscape and green commitment, Lewis & Clark has earned rankings with U.S. News & World Report. Current rankings include #82 in best national liberal arts colleges and #84 in best value schools.

#10 – Rhodes College

Memphis, Tennessee
Points: 5
Student population: 1,875
College Website

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

Undergraduate Tuition and Fees: $50,910

Rhodes College is a private, coeducational, residential college committed to the liberal arts and sciences tradition and set in the heart of Memphis, Tennessee. Rhodes is modeled in the collegiate-gothic style and sits on 123 acres in the heart of historic Midtown Memphis. No attention to detail was spared at Rhodes, as walkways, courtyards, residence halls, common areas, and classrooms were all created to encourage conversation, further the exchange of ideas, and help students make important connections with their peers. The school is fully accredited and ranked with major publications like U.S. News & World Report. Most recently, Rhodes ranked #54 in best national liberal arts colleges.

#9 – Illinois Institute of Technology

Chicago, Illinois
Points: 6
Student undergraduate population: 3,122
College Website

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

Undergraduate Tuition and Fees: $50,490

Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) is a private, technology-driven, research university offering undergraduate and graduate degrees in engineering, science, and more. The main campus is settled on 120 acres in the city of Chicago. A parcel of this main campus was entered onto the National Register of Historic Places in 2005. The campus, often referred to as the Mies Campus, was designed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, who was considered one of the most influential architects of his time. IIT also offers other campuses situated in the downtown area of Chicago, in the River North neighborhood, and in Bedford Park. IIT ranks with U.S. News & World Report as the 122nd best national university and 42nd best value school.

#8 – Hamilton College

Clinton, New York
Points: 6
Student population: 1,902
College Website

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

Undergraduate Tuition and Fees: $58,510

Hamilton College is a private coeducational liberal arts college located outside of Utica, New York. The college sits on a scenic 1,300-acre campus that is nestled on a hilltop overlooking the picturesque village of Clinton. Hamilton is located eight miles southwest of Utica, 45 minutes east of Syracuse, and an hour from the Adirondack Park to the northeast. The campus itself is found in a quaint, New England-style village with plenty of shopping and dining opportunities for students. In addition to its beautiful campus, Hamilton is recognized by U.S. News & World Report as the 13th best national liberal arts college and 15th best value school in the country.

#7 – Vassar College

Poughkeepsie, New York
Points: 6
Student population: 2,435
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: $60,930

Vassar College is a highly selective, private, coeducational liberal arts college that is typically ranked among the top liberal arts colleges in the country. In fact, current rankings with U.S. News & World Report list Vassar as the 22nd best national liberal arts college. Vassar is located in a residential area three miles from the city center of Poughkeepsie, New York and 75 miles north of New York City. The sprawling 1000-acre campus features manicured lawns, formal gardens, and meadows and woodlands of the Vassar farm. The campus boasts more than 100 academic and residential buildings ranging in style from collegiate gothic to modernist, including two National Historic Landmarks.

#6 – Colgate University

Hamilton, New York
Points: 6
Student population: 3,054
College Website

A logo of Colgate University for our ranking of the 30 Most Beautiful Small Colleges in America
Ranked among the best liberal arts college in the country, Colgate University is also one of the most beautiful.

Undergraduate Tuition and Fees: $60,015

Colgate University is a private liberal arts institution located in central New York state. The school has intentionally small classes, with a strong focus on faculty-student relationships. The 553-acre campus is home to 88 buildings, miles of pathways and walkways, and an estimated 2,300 beautiful established trees. Many of the buildings date back to 1827, when West Hall was hand-built by faculty and students from stone taken from a campus quarry. Colgate is highly selective and ranked with major publications like U.S. News & World Report. The most current school rankings include #17 in best national liberal arts colleges and #18 in best value schools.

#5 – Kenyon College

Gambier, Ohio
Points: 6
Student population: 1,615
College Website

A logo of Kenyon College for our ranking of the 30 Most Beautiful Small Colleges in America
A beautiful campus for hiking – Kenyon College.

Undergraduate Tuition and Fees: $55,020

Kenyon College is a private, coeducational, residential liberal arts college located in Gambier, Ohio. Kenyon’s beautiful campus is set on 1,000 acres just 45 miles outside the state’s capital of Columbus. The campus includes a 480-acre nature preserve. This nature preserve borders the Kokosing River and includes woodland, prairie, and wetland habitats, as well as various gardens. Many of the school’s biology classes conduct research in these sanctuaries. Students also participate in hikes and nature walks along the campus trails. In addition to the natural landscape Kenyon offers, the school is ranked with U.S. News & World Report as the 30th best national liberal arts college.

#4 – Swarthmore College

Swarthmore, Pennsylvania
Points: 9
Student population: 1,437
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 top-ranked beautiful small college.

Undergraduate Tuition and Fees: $54,456

Swarthmore College is a private, coeducational liberal arts institution located near Philadelphia. Swarthmore’s tranquil, 425-acre arboretum campus features rolling lawns, a creek, wooded hills, and hiking trails, and it is located just 11 miles outside of downtown Philadelphia. Nearby, students can enjoy a charming village complete with coffee shops and cafes. In addition to its beautiful college campus, Swarthmore is highly selective. The most recent selectivity rate was nine percent. Swarthmore also ranks highly with U.S. News & World Report. Current rankings include third in best national liberal arts colleges and second in best value schools.

#3 – Wellesley College

Wellesley, Massachusetts
Points: 9
Student population: 2,280
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 found just 12 miles from Boston – Wellesley College!

Undergraduate Tuition and Fees: $58,448

Wellesley College is a private, nonprofit liberal arts college for women. The school is located in beautiful Wellesley, Massachusetts just 12 miles west of Boston. Wellesley is situated on 500 acres that include a private lake, a golf club, groves, and winding paths through open meadows. Historic brick and stone buildings rise from gorgeous wooded hills throughout the campus. The landscape has always been an important to the identity of Wellesley College and to the experience of its students. College founders believed young women should be educated in the midst of beauty. Wellesley is a highly ranked institution. Current rankings with U.S. News & World Report include fifth in best national liberal arts colleges and fourth in best value schools.

#2 – Florida Southern College

Lakeland, Florida
Points: 9
Student population: 3,413
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, coeducational liberal arts college located in Lakeland, Florida. FSC is the oldest private college in the state and was established in Orlando as South Florida Institute. Florida Southern is the home of the world’s largest single-site collection of Frank Lloyd Wright architecture, adding to the charm of the 100-acre campus. The 60 campus buildings are situated within an orange grove on the north shore of Lake Hollingsworth. Nearby Lakeland is home to a booming arts community and the annual Festival of Fine Arts, which showcases world-class artists in concerts, plays, ballet, opera, art exhibits, and jazz events. In addition to the unique campus design, FSC is highly ranked with U.S. News & World Report. Recent rankings include eighth in best regional universities in the South and 14th in best value schools.

#1 – Scripps College

Claremont, California
Points: 10
Student population: 958
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: $57,188

Topping the list is Scripps College, which was established in 1926 as a liberal arts institution for women. The school is a member of the Claremont Colleges System of Schools and is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Some of the architectural highlights of the campus include a rose garden between Toll and Browning Halls, which is designated for student cutting. Students keep fresh-cut roses in their rooms. Also, fruit trees are found throughout campus, as well as olive trees and strawberry plants. The scent of orange blossoms and wisteria perfume is also a constant throughout campus. Scripps ranks with U.S. News & World Report as the 30th best national liberal arts college and 86th best value school.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What makes a college campus beautiful?

A beautiful college campus means more than just having curb appeal. Institutions that have received accolades for being the most beautiful colleges in the world have put a lot of time and money into both aesthetics and academics. The blend of both worlds creates a kind of atmosphere 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. Tourists flock to see impressive architecture, perfectly manicured gardens and lawns, and noteworthy landmarks situated in the middle of campus. Some college campuses, like the ones on our list, boast resort-style living, while 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, but they also incorporated other styles from the Federal, Gothic, neoclassical, and Romanesque movements. At the time of construction, 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.

In addition to unique architecture, beautiful college campuses offer elegant landscape design. From natural woodlands and lakes to well-manicured quads, natural aesthetics are as important to a college campus as the buildings. The two work in unison to provide a beautiful and aesthetically pleasing place to learn.

What are the benefits of attending a small college?

U.S. News & World Report lists multiple advantages of attending a small college over a large “mega-university.” Small colleges, like those on our list, typically have a student enrollment of less than 5,000. Many smaller liberal arts colleges do not have a graduate school. And many have low student-to-faculty ratios of less than 10 to one. Below, we detail some of the benefits of attending these small schools.

Instruction by professors. Unlike large universities, small colleges don’t typically have graduate students. If they don’t have grad students, they aren’t providing training for these students on how to be a professor. As a result, undergraduates won’t have to deal with relatively inexperienced teaching assistants for labs or classes.

One-on-one contact. At bigger universities, professors are sometimes seen from afar, but in smaller colleges, students can get to know their professors. Work will be more closely evaluated and advising will be more personal.

Small class sizes. At smaller colleges, classes are kept intentionally small. Even some of the largest lectures may only contain up to 50 students, and most classes won’t exceed 20 students. As a result, students will be able to participate in class discussion, get to know their professors, and ask questions as needed.

What are the benefits of attending a beautiful college?

Beautiful college campuses can be advantageous to a student. With so many stressors associated with life after high school, students are seeking colleges that offer the best of both worlds – strong academics and visually pleasing surroundings. Aesthetics have become an important aspect when choosing which college to attend. Below are several benefits of attending a beautiful college.

Better grades. Studies show that a college campus’s learning environment can improve a student’s academic performance. An English major studying in a windowless, poorly lit library will not perform as well as someone reading in a hall that overlooks greenspace, lakes, and aspen trees. Aesthetics serve to improve student success.

Healthy lifestyle. As a young adult, healthy life habits are being formed. Students are learning how to study effectively, manage responsibilities, and keep structured schedules. Beautiful college campuses invest in natural spaces where students can hike, fish, mountain bike, take yoga classes, and practice mindfulness. The geographical landscape is as important to learning and forging healthy habits as the classroom environment is.

Sense of tradition. When surrounded by historic buildings and landmarks, students gain a sense of pride. They become part of the long tradition of a college that has offered quality education to generations of students. This sense of pride has meaning. Students gain a sense of belonging and achievement that is unique to the institution. As a result, students form relationships that continue into their lives after college.

What makes a small college selective?

College selectivity is a measure of how difficult it is to be admitted. Selectivity is typically measured by the percentage of students who apply compared to those who are 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 schools even admit less than 10%.

There are different categories of selectivity. Some schools are selective because they are admitting a specialized type of student. This category includes schools like Juilliard, which is only interested in students with demonstrated musical ability and talent. West Point, a military academy looking for certain scores on physical fitness assessments, is also a highly specialized institution with certain selectivity criteria.

Other colleges base their selectivity on academics. These schools usually receive thousands of applicants each year and can only afford to accept the most high-achieving students. Schools with extremely low acceptance rates include the Ivy League schools and institutions like Duke University, Stanford, and MIT.

Selective schools evaluate GPA, SAT, or ACT scores and academic promise. Some of the most selective institutions, especially small liberal arts colleges, also appreciate advocacy, drive, out-of-the-box thinking, and 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?

As a potential student, school visits are essential. College tours allow students to meet with other prospective students, get to know the college on a deeper level, and ask questions that are not answered on the school website. You will hear from current students who offer a unique perspective. 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 aesthetics through all of your senses, which may give you a better perspective on the application direction you want to take.

There are several reasons to visit colleges before applying or attending. It is difficult to know how you feel about a place until you’ve been there. College catalogs, websites, and other materials can only reveal so much. They don’t allow you to experience the sounds, smells, and overall aesthetics of a visit.

During a college visit, potential students get a sense of the school’s character. Walking through the quad offers a sense of vibrancy that is difficult to detect on a school website. During a visit, you get a firsthand view of the college you might be attending. No website can reveal the sounds, aesthetics, and overall vibe in the classroom, dorm, or quad.

BDP Staff
November 2021

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

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