carnegie hall

Best Small Colleges
Top 100 Consensus Ranked Schools 2020

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Best Small Colleges

With our Top Consensus ranking of the Best Small Colleges, College Consensus turns the focus on the little guys – schools with 3000 students or less. The best small colleges in the US are not small in reputation, and they’re not small in influence; in fact, some of the best small colleges in America are also among the most exceptional, with national and international recognition for their overall excellence. The Best Small Colleges ranking gives prospective students and their families a rigorous and full look at their options. Whatever the reason – small class sizes, personalized attention, close-knit student bodies, or safety in small numbers – students can trust the College Consensus to give a list of small colleges that rank the highest across the board.

The Best Small Colleges are listed in descending order according to their College Consensus Score. Ties are ordered alphabetically.

1

Pomona College
Claremont, CA

carnegie hall
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
88.5
College Consensus
92.7
Publisher Consensus
84.3
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: April, 2020
Student population
1573

2

Williams College
Williamstown, MA

168342
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
87.4
College Consensus
93.8
Publisher Consensus
81
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: April, 2020
Student population
2149

3

Amherst College
Amherst, MA

3025094299 26e1202016 o
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
87.1
College Consensus
92.8
Publisher Consensus
81.3
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: April, 2020
Student population
1855

4

Washington and Lee University
Lexington, VA

washington lee
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
86.2
College Consensus
89
Publisher Consensus
83.4
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: April, 2020
Student population
2223

5

Claremont McKenna College
Claremont, CA

claremont campus
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
86
College Consensus
88.3
Publisher Consensus
83.6
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: April, 2020
Student population
1327

6

Bowdoin College
Brunswick, ME

Bowdoin
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
85.6
College Consensus
89.6
Publisher Consensus
81.6
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: April, 2020
Student population
1828

7

Bates College
Lewiston, ME

bates
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
85.4
College Consensus
88.7
Publisher Consensus
82.2
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: April, 2020
Student population
1832

8

Swarthmore College
Swarthmore, PA

swarthmore
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
84.2
College Consensus
93.3
Publisher Consensus
75.1
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: April, 2020
Student population
1559

9

California Institute of Technology
Pasadena, CA

Caltech Entrance
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
83.9
College Consensus
93.8
Publisher Consensus
74
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: April, 2020
Student population
2233

10

Colgate University
Hamilton, NY

colgate
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
81.9
College Consensus
86.8
Publisher Consensus
77
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: April, 2020
Student population
2969

11

Middlebury College
Middlebury, VT

Middlebury College Ex
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
81.3
College Consensus
82.9
Publisher Consensus
79.8
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: April, 2020
Student population
2611

12

Scripps College
Claremont, CA

scripps
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
80.3
College Consensus
76.9
Publisher Consensus
83.8
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: April, 2020
Student population
1071

13

Davidson College
Davidson, NC

Davidson
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
80.1
College Consensus
82.7
Publisher Consensus
77.5
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: April, 2020
Student population
1843

14

Macalester College
Saint Paul, MN

Macalester
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
80
College Consensus
80.4
Publisher Consensus
79.6
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: April, 2020
Student population
2174

15

Barnard College
New York, NY

Barnard 1
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
79.9
College Consensus
84.1
Publisher Consensus
75.6
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: April, 2020
Student population
2562

16

Carleton College
Northfield, MN

8617
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
79
College Consensus
76.5
Publisher Consensus
81.6
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: April, 2020
Student population
2097

17

Smith College
Northampton, MA

smith
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
78.5
College Consensus
76.3
Publisher Consensus
80.8
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: April, 2020
Student population
2903

18

Haverford College
Haverford, PA

founderscrop
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
78.5
College Consensus
81.9
Publisher Consensus
75.2
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: April, 2020
Student population
1310

19

Colby College
Waterville, ME

colby
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
78.1
College Consensus
81.2
Publisher Consensus
75
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: April, 2020
Student population
2000

20

Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art
New York, NY

Cooper Union
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
77.6
College Consensus
90
Publisher Consensus
65.3
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: April, 2020
Student population
952

21

Grinnell College
Grinnell, IA

grinnell
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
77.5
College Consensus
76.4
Publisher Consensus
78.5
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: April, 2020
Student population
1716

22

Lafayette College
Easton, PA

49728004696 0e08ca6e5c o
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
77.2
College Consensus
81.1
Publisher Consensus
73.3
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: April, 2020
Student population
2642

23

Augustana University
Sioux Falls, SD

Augustana
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
77.1
College Consensus
72.8
Publisher Consensus
81.5
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: April, 2020
Student population
2133

24

Union College (NY)
Schenectady, NY

union college
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
76.2
College Consensus
76.5
Publisher Consensus
75.9
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: April, 2020
Student population
2197

25

Taylor University
Upland, IN

Taylor
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
75.1
College Consensus
71.1
Publisher Consensus
79.2
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: April, 2020
Student population
2195

26

Whitman College
Walla Walla, WA

whitman 1
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
74.1
College Consensus
66.5
Publisher Consensus
81.6
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: April, 2020
Student population
1475

27

Trinity University
San Antonio, TX

Trinity University Northrup Entrance
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
73.8
College Consensus
73.3
Publisher Consensus
74.4
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: April, 2020
Student population
2637

28

California State University Maritime Academy
Vallejo, CA

California Maritime Academy
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
73.7
College Consensus
86.7
Publisher Consensus
60.7
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: April, 2020
Student population
1046

29

Reed College
Portland, OR

reed
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
73.5
College Consensus
66.8
Publisher Consensus
80.3
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: April, 2020
Student population
1503

30

Marietta College
Marietta, OH

Marietta College
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
71.8
College Consensus
70.2
Publisher Consensus
73.4
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: April, 2020
Student population
1130

31

Franklin and Marshall College
Lancaster, PA

258800807480854178 11409114754 22205c1317 b.0.32.1000.602.full
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
71.7
College Consensus
71.8
Publisher Consensus
71.7
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: April, 2020
Student population
2309

32

Connecticut College
New London, CT

conn college
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
71.2
College Consensus
68.5
Publisher Consensus
73.9
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: April, 2020
Student population
1844

33

Gettysburg College
Gettysburg, PA

gettysburg
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
71.1
College Consensus
64.8
Publisher Consensus
77.4
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: April, 2020
Student population
2441

34

Trinity College
Hartford, CT

trinity college
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
71
College Consensus
71.1
Publisher Consensus
71
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: April, 2020
Student population
2235

35

Milwaukee School of Engineering
Milwaukee, WI

MSOE
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
70.8
College Consensus
70.7
Publisher Consensus
71
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: April, 2020
Student population
2820

36

University of Minnesota-Morris
Morris, MN

University of Minnesota Morris
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
70.8
College Consensus
66.7
Publisher Consensus
74.8
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: April, 2020
Student population
1552

37

DePauw University
Greencastle, IN

Depauw
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
70.8
College Consensus
67.8
Publisher Consensus
73.7
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: April, 2020
Student population
2156

38

Knox College
Galesburg, IL

knox
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
70.5
College Consensus
64.5
Publisher Consensus
76.5
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: April, 2020
Student population
1333

39

Trinity Christian College
Palos Heights, IL

Trinity Christian College
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
70.1
College Consensus
69.3
Publisher Consensus
70.8
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: April, 2020
Student population
1131

40

The University of the South
Sewanee, TN

sewanee
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
70
College Consensus
64.5
Publisher Consensus
75.5
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: April, 2020
Student population
1785

41

Wheaton College (IL)
Wheaton, IL

wheaton college
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
70
College Consensus
58.9
Publisher Consensus
81.1
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: April, 2020
Student population
2944

42

Mount Holyoke College
South Hadley, MA

Mount Holyoke
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
69.9
College Consensus
67
Publisher Consensus
72.8
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: April, 2020
Student population
2335

43

Nebraska Wesleyan University
Lincoln, NE

NWU OldMain
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
69.9
College Consensus
62.5
Publisher Consensus
77.2
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: April, 2020
Student population
2095

44

Skidmore College
Saratoga Springs, NY

skidmore
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
69.4
College Consensus
65.4
Publisher Consensus
73.4
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: April, 2020
Student population
2613

45

Dominican University
River Forest, IL

Dominican University
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
69.4
College Consensus
70.7
Publisher Consensus
68
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: April, 2020
Student population
2990

46

Occidental College
Los Angeles, CA

oxy campus
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
68.6
College Consensus
61.7
Publisher Consensus
75.5
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: April, 2020
Student population
1930

47

Willamette University
Salem, OR

Willamette University
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
68.3
College Consensus
62.1
Publisher Consensus
74.6
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: April, 2020
Student population
2363

48

Dickinson College
Carlisle, PA

dickinson
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
68.2
College Consensus
64.6
Publisher Consensus
71.8
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: April, 2020
Student population
2399

49

SUNY Maritime College
Throggs Neck, NY

backpacks college college students 1454360
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
67.8
College Consensus
67.6
Publisher Consensus
67.9
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: April, 2020
Student population
1734

50

Virginia Military Institute
Lexington, VA

Virginia Military institute
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
67.7
College Consensus
66.1
Publisher Consensus
69.2
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: April, 2020
Student population
1685

51

Allegheny College
Meadville, PA

Allegheny
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
67.5
College Consensus
60.7
Publisher Consensus
74.4
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: April, 2020
Student population
1771

52

Lake Forest College
Lake Forest, IL

Lake Forest College
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
67.1
College Consensus
61.1
Publisher Consensus
73.1
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: April, 2020
Student population
1512

53

Salem College
Winston-Salem, NC

Salem College
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
66.7
College Consensus
68.7
Publisher Consensus
64.8
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: April, 2020
Student population
842

54

Berea College
Berea, KY

Berea College
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
66.7
College Consensus
69.2
Publisher Consensus
64.2
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: April, 2020
Student population
1673

55

Wofford College
Spartanburg, SC

wofford
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
66.7
College Consensus
51.2
Publisher Consensus
82.1
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: April, 2020
Student population
1666

56

College of Saint Benedict
Saint Joseph, MN

CSaintBens
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
66.6
College Consensus
53
Publisher Consensus
80.2
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: April, 2020
Student population
1782

57

Hiram College
Hiram, OH

Hiram College
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
66.5
College Consensus
66.2
Publisher Consensus
66.8
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: April, 2020
Student population
1255

58

Wabash College
Crawfordsville, IN

wabash
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
66.3
College Consensus
50.7
Publisher Consensus
82
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: April, 2020
Student population
882

59

College of the Ozarks
Point Lookout, MO

chapel college of the ozarks orig
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
66.1
College Consensus
64.2
Publisher Consensus
68
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: April, 2020
Student population
1565

60

St. John’s College (MD)
Annapolis, MD

SJC MD
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
66.1
College Consensus
52.3
Publisher Consensus
79.9
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: April, 2020
Student population
527

61

Washington & Jefferson College
Washington, PA

Washington Jefferson College
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
65.8
College Consensus
57.3
Publisher Consensus
74.4
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: April, 2020
Student population
1357

62

Goshen College
Goshen, IN

Goshen
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
65.8
College Consensus
61.8
Publisher Consensus
69.8
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: April, 2020
Student population
927

63

Susquehanna University
Selinsgrove, PA

Susquehanna University
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
65.6
College Consensus
58
Publisher Consensus
73.2
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: April, 2020
Student population
2396

64

University of Puget Sound
Tacoma, WA

University Puget Sound
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
65.4
College Consensus
58.8
Publisher Consensus
72
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: April, 2020
Student population
2666

65

Dickinson State University
Dickinson, ND

dickinson state
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
64.8
College Consensus
54.9
Publisher Consensus
74.7
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: April, 2020
Student population
1392

66

Cedar Crest College
Allentown, PA

Cedar Crest College
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
64.6
College Consensus
59.8
Publisher Consensus
69.4
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: April, 2020
Student population
1596

67

North Central College
Naperville, IL

North Central
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
64.5
College Consensus
59.8
Publisher Consensus
69.3
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: April, 2020
Student population
2928

68

Southwestern University
Georgetown, TX

Southwestern University
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
64.3
College Consensus
51.6
Publisher Consensus
77
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: April, 2020
Student population
1434

69

Gustavus Adolphus College
Saint Peter, MN

Gustavus Adolphus College
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
64.1
College Consensus
53.6
Publisher Consensus
74.5
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: April, 2020
Student population
2241

70

Valley City State University
Valley City, ND

valley city
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
63.9
College Consensus
53.4
Publisher Consensus
74.4
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: April, 2020
Student population
1547

71

Centre College
Danville, KY

Centre College
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
63.6
College Consensus
52.4
Publisher Consensus
74.8
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: April, 2020
Student population
1434

72

Millsaps College
Jackson, MS

MillsapsCollege
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
63.5
College Consensus
49.2
Publisher Consensus
77.8
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: April, 2020
Student population
865

73

Lake Superior State University
Sault Ste Marie, MI

Lake Superior State University
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
63.3
College Consensus
63.4
Publisher Consensus
63.2
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: April, 2020
Student population
1991

74

New College of Florida
Sarasota, FL

NCF
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
63.1
College Consensus
53.2
Publisher Consensus
73.1
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: April, 2020
Student population
837

75

Muhlenberg College
Allentown, PA

Muhlenberg College
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
62.3
College Consensus
50.2
Publisher Consensus
74.5
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: April, 2020
Student population
2340

76

Lawrence University
Appleton, WI

lawrence U
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
62.1
College Consensus
48.7
Publisher Consensus
75.4
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: April, 2020
Student population
1463

77

University of Minnesota-Crookston
Crookston, MN

University of Minnesota Crookston
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
62
College Consensus
50.1
Publisher Consensus
73.9
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: April, 2020
Student population
2810

78

The College of Wooster
Wooster, OH

wooster
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
61.9
College Consensus
53
Publisher Consensus
70.8
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: April, 2020
Student population
2004

79

Drew University
Madison, NJ

Drew University
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
61.9
College Consensus
54.6
Publisher Consensus
69.2
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: April, 2020
Student population
2263

80

Illinois Wesleyan University
Bloomington, IL

Illinois Wesleyan University
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
61.7
College Consensus
53.6
Publisher Consensus
69.7
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: April, 2020
Student population
1693

81

Saint Johns University
Collegeville, MN

SJU MN
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
61.3
College Consensus
47.5
Publisher Consensus
75.2
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: April, 2020
Student population
1777

82

Kalamazoo College
Kalamazoo, MI

Kalamazoo College
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
60.9
College Consensus
47
Publisher Consensus
74.8
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: April, 2020
Student population
1467

83

Bennington College
Bennington, VT

Bennington
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
60.8
College Consensus
42.8
Publisher Consensus
78.9
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: April, 2020
Student population
811

84

Saint Mary’s College
Notre Dame, IN

Saint Marys College Indiana
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
60.7
College Consensus
49.3
Publisher Consensus
72
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: April, 2020
Student population
1611

85

St. Mary’s College of Maryland
St. Mary's City, MD

St Marys College Maryland
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
60.3
College Consensus
46.3
Publisher Consensus
74.3
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: April, 2020
Student population
1582

86

Luther College
Decorah, IA

Luther College
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
59.8
College Consensus
45.6
Publisher Consensus
74
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: April, 2020
Student population
2005

87

Westminster College (UT)
Salt Lake City, UT

westminster utah
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
59.7
College Consensus
49.4
Publisher Consensus
69.9
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: April, 2020
Student population
2477

88

Westmont College
Santa Barbara, CA

Westmont College
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
59.3
College Consensus
44.6
Publisher Consensus
73.9
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: April, 2020
Student population
1277

89

University of Dallas
Irving, TX

UniversityDallas
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
59.2
College Consensus
42.3
Publisher Consensus
76.2
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: April, 2020
Student population
2542

90

Albion College
Albion, MI

Albion College
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
58.8
College Consensus
45.6
Publisher Consensus
72
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: April, 2020
Student population
1533

91

Hampden-Sydney College
Hampden-Sydney, VA

Hampden Sydney College
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
58.6
College Consensus
37.1
Publisher Consensus
80.2
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: April, 2020
Student population
1072

92

Whittier College
Whittier, CA

Whittier College
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
58.6
College Consensus
50
Publisher Consensus
67.2
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: April, 2020
Student population
1852

93

Augustana College
Rock Island, IL

Augustana College
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
58.3
College Consensus
43
Publisher Consensus
73.5
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: April, 2020
Student population
2543

94

Mount Saint Joseph University
Cincinnati, OH

msj
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
58
College Consensus
37.4
Publisher Consensus
78.6
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: April, 2020
Student population
2162

95

SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry
Syracuse, NY

ESF campus
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
58
College Consensus
42.3
Publisher Consensus
73.7
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: April, 2020
Student population
2220

96

Stonehill College
Easton, MA

Stonehill College
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
57.9
College Consensus
43.5
Publisher Consensus
72.4
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: April, 2020
Student population
2556

97

Simpson College
Indianola, IA

Simpson College
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
57.7
College Consensus
42.2
Publisher Consensus
73.2
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: April, 2020
Student population
1444

98

Moravian College
Bethlehem, PA

Moravian College
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
57.5
College Consensus
46
Publisher Consensus
69
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: April, 2020
Student population
2514

99

MidAmerica Nazarene University
Olathe, KS

MidAmerica Nazarene University
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
57.5
College Consensus
33.9
Publisher Consensus
81
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: April, 2020
Student population
1875

100

The Master’s University and Seminary
Santa Clarita, CA

the masters university header
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
57.3
College Consensus
38
Publisher Consensus
76.7
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: April, 2020
Student population
2057

Why Choose a Small College? Academics and Culture

First and foremost, there’s a strong argument to be made for the academic advantages of a small college. Time and again, studies have shown that people learn more effectively in small classes; it’s a fact that the top small universities have been touting for years. While, in a large university, you may find yourself in a gigantic lecture hall with hundreds of other students, too far away to even make out the professor’s facial expression, in a small college you’re likely to take classes with just a handful of people. That closeness means you get to know your classmates and instructors well, engaging in meaningful discussion and having the opportunity to have your questions answered directly.

Small classes at a small college also means a small student:faculty ratio – the number of students per faculty member. A professor at a large university can’t get to know all of her students closely, much less work with them one-on-one; but at a small college, where they may be just 10-12 students for every professor, there’s a greater opportunity for mentorship, guidance, and connection. In a small college, you’re far more likely to have to chance, for instance, to work alongside a faculty member on a research project, or to find a professor who can give you personalized attention and help.

The culture of a small college is entirely different from the culture of a large college, too. That doesn’t mean that the best small colleges don’t have their rabid sports rivalries, or riotous fraternity parties (they definitely do). What it means is that it’s much easier to form a close-knit community, one where students feel connected to the whole student body rather than just their clique or in-group. Small colleges can have other benefits, as well; with a small student body, they can pay more attention to amenities, so some of the best small colleges also offer the best college dining halls and the best college dorms in the nation. At a large college, students can often feel disconnected and lost; at a small college, students can feel more connected. A large university is where you go to school; a small college is where you live.

How Do We Rank the Best Small Colleges?

College Consensus isn’t like any other college ranking agency out there. Bringing together the rankings of reputable sites like U.S. News & World Report, the Wall Street Journal, and Forbes, with the most trustworthy student review sites on the internet (including Niche, Cappex, and Unigo), College Consensus works to get the full picture. Instead of just focusing on one set of data, College Consensus is an aggregate ranking, combining all of a given school’s published rankings for the Publisher Ranking, and adding in the testimony of students for the Student Rating. From those two numbers, we create the Consensus Rating, which we then use to rank schools in all sorts of combinations.

Our criteria for selecting the Best Small Colleges is fairly simple: these are the colleges and universities throughout the US that have student bodies of 3000 or less. That’s an arbitrary cutoff, sure; plenty of large colleges are proud of their ability to give students an experience like a small college, and there’s no particular reason a school with 3000 students is any different than a school with 4000 students. But the essential thing here isn’t how many students there are – it’s how the top small universities serve students in a special way. The Top Consensus Ranked Small Colleges put students first, providing the traditional college experience that leaves fond memories, lifelong friendships, and a sense of alumni pride that carries through for your 50th-anniversary reunion and beyond.

What’s Different About the College Consensus Ranking?

While other rankings take the narrow view – whether it’s strictly surveys of faculty, or reams of cold, hard data, or the perspective of students – College Consensus is the only college ranking organization that looks at the full range of published rankings and student reviews. That means we take all voices seriously, from the impartial experts to the students experiencing the real world of college on the ground. Other methods give an advantage to certain kinds of schools, especially the ones with the biggest marketing budgets and the most famous names, but College Consensus is interested in getting the fullest picture possible. Read more about our ranking methodology and sources on our about page.