Home College Towns The Top Ten Small Colleges in the US

The Top Ten Small Colleges in the US

The Top Ten Small Colleges in the US

Small liberal arts colleges abound in the United States. Many offer high-quality academics and experiential activities that greatly enhance the college experience while preserving an intimate setting for learning. Our evaluations took into consideration student population of under 3,000 attendees, percentage acceptance, the total cost per year, average student debt upon graduation, average student salary upon graduation and the school’s National Liberal Arts Colleges rankings. We looked at many schools nationwide, and the following are our pick for the top ten.

10. Whitman College

Whitman College
Some rights reserved by Joe Shlabotnik

Whitman College is located in Walla Walla, Washington.  It has a student population of 1470 students. Whitman College’s acceptance rate is 43%. Its total cost per year is $59,800. The average student debt upon graduation is $29,000. The average student salary upon graduation is $39,000. The National Liberal Arts College Ranking for Whitman College is 41.

Whitman College rests on a beautiful 117-acre campus.  Because of its rural location, campus life and activities play a crucial role in the life of the student body. Sports are huge on campus. There is an extensive intramural sports program, and it is estimated that 70% of all students compete in different sports. Whitman College also has an active Greek Life and about a third of the student population have joined a fraternity or a sorority during their studies at Whitman.

The Varsity sports involve about 20% of the student body. Teams compete in NCAA Division III Northwest Conference. In addition to all the athletic offerings, there are also over 100 student clubs and organizations which students can join to make new friends and get more involved on campus.

If you like the outdoors and outdoor activities, Whitman College has the perfect location to offer all kinds of activities from rock climbing to kayaking, to mountaineering. There is a program called Semester in the West which involves traveling through five western states in what is described as a “converted horse trailer.” If students need a big city fix, they can reach Spokane in about 2.5 hours and Seattle in 4.5 hours.

Whitman offers 45 different majors. A big attraction of this small college is the small class size, and the close working relationship students have with the different professors who make up the school’s faculty. Last but not least, Whitman College has many opportunities for students to study abroad and to live and learn in different cultures throughout the world.

9. Kenyon College

Kenyon College - Leonard Hall
Some rights reserved by .curt.

Kenyon College is located in Gambier, Ohio. The student population is 1711. The college’s acceptance rate is 24%. The total cost to attend Kenyon is $63,400. The average student debt upon graduation is $22,000., and the average student salary upon graduation is $38,000. The National Liberal Arts College Ranking is 27. It is the oldest private college in Ohio.

The rural campus of Kenyon College is comprised of 1000 acres. The college campus and downtown Gambier is almost indistinguishable. There are 120 student clubs and student organizations which enable students to make friends and to get involved in campus life. Greek Life is also part of the Kenyon College experience with a number of fraternities and sororities on campus.

Sports are also an important part of student life. One-third of the student body play varsity sports on the men’s teams – The Lords and the women’s teams – The Ladies. The Varsity sports programs are part of the NCAA Division III North Coast Athletic Conference. There are also non-varsity programs that include Men’s and Women’s Rugby, Squash, Tennis, Club Soccer, Ultimate Frisbee and Equestrian.

Some of the things that make Kenyon unique are the bells of the Church of the Holy Spirit that ring on the weekend every Friday afternoon with the help of the Kenyon Pealers, the Chamber Singers, and the Birds on Ransom Hall. The Study Abroad program offers more 150 opportunities. If you are looking for a more urban setting for a short time away from campus, then Columbus is your best bet. Columbus is the home of Ohio State University and is a very attractive city only 45 miles away. When spring arrives, the students celebrate the new season with a semi-formal dance. New students begin their experience at Kenyon with the song “First-Year Sing” and celebrate their graduation from Kenyon College with the song “Senior Sing.”

The student ratio to faculty is 10:1 and almost 70% of the classes have fewer than 20 students. The most popular majors are English Language and Literature, General Economics, International Studies, Molecular Biology and Political Science and Government.


Jamie Stewart America Unraveled's resident expert on all things higher ed!


  1. Your ratings certainly reflect outside-the-box thinking and rating of colleges. The article caught the essence of the colleges I am familiar with – Grinnell, Kenyon, and Whitman, and Beloit, from which I graduated. And all have a strong sense of place and community.


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *