Skip to main content

Main Area

Main

Colleges with the best student life in every state

  • Colleges with the best student life in every state
    1/ Susan Montgomery // Shutterstock

    Colleges with the best student life in every state

    Picking the right university can be a complex web of wants and needs: academic rigor and a vivacious social life; plenty of space to find yourself, but the intimacy of a small classroom. Finding a college that has it all may seem like an insurmountable task. The tug-of-war often feels like it has nothing to do with the students, and is instead wrapped up in a longstanding competition between universities.

    This approach can and does leave students behind. As college admissions become more competitive, some students end up chasing a brand name that doesn't have the student support services to help them once they arrive. Loneliness in college is becoming a wider concern, doctors are diagnosing more undergrads with depression and anxiety and those without diagnoses find themselves help seeking help for similar symptoms. While having a strong social sphere won't cure clinical depression or make every student less lonely during college, a vibrant, connected, happy campus can only bring good things to the students in attendance.

    Everyone has a different opinion of what makes “a good college experience.” So when it comes to figuring out the answer, who better to turn to than the students themselves?

    Stacker has compiled a list of colleges with the best student life, using data provided by Niche, which creates rankings based on a combination of student polls and statistics from the U.S. Department of Education. Both the polls and stats reflect the criteria that help make sense of “student life”—school athletics, facilities, diversity, safety, access to nightlife, and more—and take into account the practical details as well, such as class size, and tuition or enrollment fees per-year. But all of this data reflects just how broad those elements are. For every Harvard, there is a Harvard for, say, mechanical engineering: Universities know how to sell a school. But to find out who does the college experience right, look to the kids; they are the future.

    You may also like: 50 best public colleges ranked from least to most expensive

  • Alabama: University of Alabama
    2/ Ken Wolter // Shutterstock

    Alabama: University of Alabama

    - Location: Tuscaloosa, AL
    - Overall Niche grade: A
    - Student life grade: A+ (Overall student life rank: #26)
    - Acceptance rate: 53%
    - Net price per year: $19,993
    - Student body size: 29,923 undergrads

    The University of Alabama is considered the #2 college in the country when it comes to athletics, the #5 college for Greek life, and #12 for general partying. On the flip side, the university also boasts the only publicly supported law school in the state.

  • Alaska: Alaska Pacific University
    3/ Mel Green // Flickr

    Alaska: Alaska Pacific University

    - Location: Anchorage, AK
    - Overall Niche grade: B
    - Student life grade: C+ (Overall student life rank: N/A)
    - Acceptance rate: 86%
    - Net price per year: $17,866
    - Student body size: 203 undergrads

    This tiny Christian school in the Last Frontier bests its in-state rivals with a higher Niche grade and slightly better student-life grade. Primarily a commuter school for Anchorage residents, students study liberal arts and humanities, business, and parks, recreation, and leisure studies.

  • Arizona: Arizona State University
    4/ Ken Wolter // Shutterstock

    Arizona: Arizona State University

    - Location: Tempe, AZ
    - Overall Niche grade: A
    - Student life grade: A+ (Overall student life rank: #69)
    - Acceptance rate: 84%
    - Net price per year: $12,947
    - Student body size: 38,814 undergrads

    Niche ranks ASU as the #1 university in Arizona with an overall grade of A. It cleaned up across the board with only two criteria falling short of an A grade: dorms and safety. ASU also cracked the top 10 in the following Niche rankings: Best College Athletics in America (#47), Best Big Colleges in America (#48), and Top Public Universities in America (#50).

  • Arkansas: University of Arkansas
    5/ Great Degree // Flickr

    Arkansas: University of Arkansas

    - Location: Fayetteville, AR
    - Overall Niche grade: A
    - Student life grade: A+ (Overall student life rank: #66)
    - Acceptance rate: 66%
    - Net price per year: $15,966
    - Student body size: 20,464 undergrads

    The University of Arkansas was recognized by the Carnegie Foundation as the university with the highest level of research activity in the country. The university is also known for its deep ties to the history of Greek life on campus, which includes the founding chapter of the Chi Omega sorority as well as the largest fraternity chapter in the country: Kappa Sigma.

  • California: University of California—Los Angeles
    6/ Alton // Wikimedia Commons

    California: University of California—Los Angeles

    - Location: Los Angeles, CA
    - Overall Niche grade: A+
    - Student life grade: A+ (Overall student life rank: #4)
    - Acceptance rate: 16%
    - Net price per year: $14,760
    - Student body size: 30,458 undergrads

    UCLA cleaned up in the Niche rankings, earning an overall A+ grade and reaching #3 in the Top Universities of America. The Pac-12 university also sits at #2 for the Best College Campuses in America and Best College Food in America. The over-30,000 undergraduate student body studies political science and government, economics, and psychology.

  • Colorado: University of Colorado—Boulder
    7/ EQRoy // Shutterstock

    Colorado: University of Colorado—Boulder

    - Location: Boulder, CO
    - Overall Niche grade: A
    - Student life grade: A+ (Overall student life rank: #71)
    - Acceptance rate: 80%
    - Net price per year: $20,323
    - Student body size: 26,977 undergrads

    The largest university in the Rocky Mountain region, UC-Boulder boasts strong Niche ratings across the board, including A grades in every area but dorms and safety. Ranked #2 by Niche in Top Public Universities in Colorado, the school also scored well in the Best College Campuses in America (#22), Top Party Schools in America (#28), and Best College Food in America (#41). Popular undergraduate degrees include business, psychology, and communications.

  • Connecticut: Yale University
    8/ f11photo // Shutterstock

    Connecticut: Yale University

    - Location: New Haven, CT
    - Overall Niche grade: A+
    - Student life grade: A+ (Overall student life rank: #15)
    - Acceptance rate: 7%
    - Net price per year: $18,053
    - Student body size: 5,743 undergrads

    Yale University hardly needs an introduction, but it should be said in any case that the third-oldest college in the United States houses some of the best programs in the country. Its professors are consistently top-ranked on Niche, and the school has the best psychology, history and international relations programs in the United States.

  • Delaware: University of Delaware
    9/ Cargoudel // Wikimedia Commons

    Delaware: University of Delaware

    - Location: Newark, DE
    - Overall Niche grade: A
    - Student life grade: A+ (Overall student life rank: #63)
    - Acceptance rate: 63%
    - Net price per year: $16,286
    - Student body size: 18,195 undergrads

    UD is the largest university in Delaware, and one of the top 50 best public universities in the country. Though the university is one of the oldest in the nation, the school was not identified as an establishment for higher learning until 1833. Its inaugural class included 10 graduates, three of whom—George Read, Thomas McKean, James Smith—went on to sign the Declaration of Independence.

  • District of Columbia: Georgetown University
    10/ Ingfbruno // Wikimedia Commons

    District of Columbia: Georgetown University

    - Location: Washington, D.C.
    - Overall Niche grade: A+
    - Student life grade: A+ (Overall student life rank: #43)
    - Acceptance rate: 16%
    - Net price per year: $27,420
    - Student body size: 6,987 undergrads

    Washington D.C.'s preeminent university, Georgetown earned its A+ grade despite lagging in food, dorms, and safety. Ranked #2 in Best Catholic Colleges in America, Georgetown is #1 in Best Colleges for International Relations in America and #2 in Best Colleges for Accounting and Finance in America. Political science and government, international relations, and finance are top majors, and alumni earn a staggering starting salary of $65,200.

  • Florida: University of Florida
    11/ WillMcC // Wikimedia Commons

    Florida: University of Florida

    - Location: Gainesville, FL
    - Overall Niche grade: A+
    - Student life grade: A+ (Overall student life rank: #13)
    - Acceptance rate: 42%
    - Net price per year: $15,283
    - Student body size: 31,384 undergrads

    The University of Florida is ranked by students as housing the best athletics program in the country, and one of the top five best universities for student-athletes. Academically, it has developed one of the best criminal justice programs in America, continually ranking among the top 10. In 2018, University of Florida tied for the ninth best public university in the country in U.S. News' rankings.

  • Georgia: University of Georgia
    12/ Bryan Pollard // Shutterstock

    Georgia: University of Georgia

    - Location: Athens, GA
    - Overall Niche grade: A+
    - Student life grade: A+ (Overall student life rank: #3)
    - Acceptance rate: 54%
    - Net price per year: $15,934
    - Student body size: 27,142 undergrads

    The University of Georgia is notable for a number of things, including its renowned criminal justice program and its vivacious atmosphere, ranked by students as the #2 party school in the country. It is also one of the few institutions to be recognized as a “public Ivy,” a publically funded university with a level of excellence comparable to that of an Ivy League school.

  • Hawaii: Chaminade University of Honolulu
    13/ Foursquare

    Hawaii: Chaminade University of Honolulu

    - Location: Honolulu, HI
    - Overall Niche grade: B
    - Student life grade: A- (Overall student life rank: #357)
    - Acceptance rate: 92%
    - Net price per year: $20,975
    - Student body size: 1,524 undergrads

    The Chaminade University of Honolulu is a private school founded in 1955 under the Roman Catholic religious order. Accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, the college is renowned for a number of specialized areas of research including biology and forensic sciences, as well as interior design and religious studies.

  • Idaho: University of Idaho
    14/ Charles Knowles // Shutterstock

    Idaho: University of Idaho

    - Location: Moscow, ID
    - Overall Niche grade: A-
    - Student life grade: A (Overall student life rank: #212)
    - Acceptance rate: 73%
    - Net price per year: $14,997
    - Student body size: 7,166 undergrads

    With a strong party scene and student life, the University of Idaho maintains an overall A- grade despite lagging in food and dorms. The #1 in Best College in Idaho, the school also cracked the top 100 in Best Colleges for Agricultural Sciences in America (#29) and Best Greek Life Colleges in America (#88). Students attend for the psychology, mechanical engineering, and liberal arts and humanities programs.

  • Illinois: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
    15/ Leigh Trail // Shutterstock

    Illinois: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

    - Location: Champaign, IL
    - Overall Niche grade: A+
    - Student life grade: A+ (Overall student life rank: #17)
    - Acceptance rate: 62%
    - Net price per year: $16,638
    - Student body size: 32,613 undergrads

    U of I is a long-admired sports institution and is one of the founding members of the Big Ten conference, the oldest Division I collegiate sports conference in the United States. The campus also holds the second-largest library in the country behind Harvard. It was classified by the Carnegie Institute of Higher Education as having a notably high level of research activity.

  • Indiana: Indiana University—Bloomington
    16/ EQRoy // Shutterstock

    Indiana: Indiana University—Bloomington

    - Location: Bloomington, IN
    - Overall Niche grade: A
    - Student life grade: A+ (Overall student life rank: #22)
    - Acceptance rate: 76%
    - Net price per year: $12,488
    - Student body size: 32,212 undergrads

    Ranked second to Purdue as one of Niche's top public universities in Indiana, IU has a thriving Greek scene and work-hard-play-hard mentality that boosts its student-life grade. Top majors include business, public administration, computer and information sciences, and kinesiology and exercise science.

  • Iowa: University of Iowa
    17/ Tony Webster // Flickr

    Iowa: University of Iowa

    - Location: Iowa City, IA
    - Overall Niche grade: A
    - Student life grade: A+ (Overall student life rank: #27)
    - Acceptance rate: 86%
    - Net price per year: $14,845
    - Student body size: 21,222 undergrads

    The University of Iowa has the distinct honor of being the original architect of the master of fine arts (MFA) degree, now offered at numerous top universities around the world. UI is also beloved for its prestigious Iowa Writers Workshop, which has been responsible for no fewer than 17 of the university's astounding 46 Pulitzer Prize winners.

  • Kansas: Kansas State University
    18/ Kevin Zollman // Flickr

    Kansas: Kansas State University

    - Location: Manhattan, KS
    - Overall Niche grade: A
    - Student life grade: A+ (Overall student life rank: #37)
    - Acceptance rate: 94%
    - Net price per year: $17,465
    - Student body size: 16,770 undergrads

    Kansas State was the first public institution of higher learning in the state and has amassed a number of notable titles since then. It consistently ranks as one of the top five colleges for agricultural studies. Its campus is also often ranked highly in lists of top campuses in America for students.

  • Kentucky: University of Kentucky
    19/ ehrlif // Shutterstock

    Kentucky: University of Kentucky

    - Location: Lexington, KY
    - Overall Niche grade: A-
    - Student life grade: A (Overall student life rank: #139)
    - Acceptance rate: 96%
    - Net price per year: $19,361
    - Student body size: 20,657 undergrads

    Rated the best college in Kentucky by Niche, University of Kentucky gets an A for its overall student life, an A for its party scene, and an A- in dorms and the campus. The University of Kentucky, at which physical education teaching and coaching is one of the most popular majors, offers students access (for a fee) to the Campus Recreation and Wellness facilities year-round, including the Johnson Student Recreation Center, the Lancaster Aquatic Center, and the Seaton Center basketball courts. Students can also sign up for personal training, group classes, intramural events, and adventure trips.

  • Louisiana: Tulane University
    20/ Fotoluminate LLC // Shutterstock

    Louisiana: Tulane University

    - Location: New Orleans, LA
    - Overall Niche grade: A+
    - Student life grade: A+ (Overall student life rank: #31)
    - Acceptance rate: 21%
    - Net price per year: $33,886
    - Student body size: 6,716 undergrads

    Tulane University does right by its New Orleans location by consistently being ranked by students as the #1 party school in the country. It is also ranked in the top 20 best colleges for architecture, and notable for being the most selective institution of higher education in Louisiana. The school is known for attracting a diverse student body, and touts two Nobel laureates as university affiliates.

  • Maine: Bowdoin College
    21/ Ron Cogswell // Flickr

    Maine: Bowdoin College

    - Location: Brunswick, ME
    - Overall Niche grade: A+
    - Student life grade: A+ (Overall student life rank: #30)
    - Acceptance rate: 14.%
    - Net price per year: $24,447
    - Student body size: 1,813 undergrads

    Bowdoin College in Maine is beloved by its students and alumni alike, consistently ranked by students as the #1 small college in the country. Bowdoin is also considered one of the best liberal arts colleges in the country, ranked third by U.S. World News & Report and #1 by students.

  • Maryland: University of Maryland—College Park
    22/ Steven Frame // Shutterstock

    Maryland: University of Maryland—College Park

    - Location: College Park, MD
    - Overall Niche grade: A
    - Student life grade: A+ (Overall student life rank: #79)
    - Acceptance rate: 45%
    - Net price per year: $17,241
    - Student body size: 27,708 undergrads

    The University of Maryland in College Park has been given the rare distinction of a “Public Ivy” title, meaning the university remains publicly funded, but its educational standards meet those of an Ivy League university. It is the largest university in the Washington metropolitan area, and as a result of its proximity to the nation's capital, the University of Maryland and its faculty receive funding from a number of government agencies, including NASA, the FDA, and the Department of Homeland Security.

  • Massachusetts: Massachusetts Institute of Technology
    23/ John Phelan // Wikimedia Commons

    Massachusetts: Massachusetts Institute of Technology

    - Location: Cambridge, MA
    - Overall Niche grade: A+
    - Student life grade: A+ (Overall student life rank: #6)
    - Acceptance rate: 7%
    - Net price per year: $22,230
    - Student body size: 4,510 undergrads

    MIT is known for its rigorous curriculum and low acceptance rate, making it routinely one of the most difficult colleges to get into for prospects. The school is ranked by Niche as #1 in computer sciences and engineering, with an expected median salary of $94,000 post-graduation.

  • Michigan: University of Michigan—Ann Arbor
    24/ Susan Montgomery // Shutterstock

    Michigan: University of Michigan—Ann Arbor

    - Location: Ann Arbor, MI
    - Overall Niche grade: A+
    - Student life grade: A+ (Overall student life rank: #1)
    - Acceptance rate: 27%
    - Net price per year: $16,408
    - Student body size: 28,702 undergrads

    The University of Michigan is ranked as the top public university in the country by Niche. Those nearly 28,000 undergraduate students have also ranked Ann Arbor as the third best school in the entire country when it comes to student life.

  • Minnesota: University of Minnesota—Twin Cities
    25/ Gian Lorenzo Ferretti // Shutterstock

    Minnesota: University of Minnesota—Twin Cities

    - Location: Minneapolis, MN
    - Overall Niche grade: A+
    - Student life grade: A+ (Overall student life rank: #34)
    - Acceptance rate: 50%
    - Net price per year: $16,808
    - Student body size: 29,991 undergrads

    Niche also named the University of Minnesota—Twin Cities the top public university in the state. There are more than 800 active student groups on campus, where 90% of first-year students live; the U of M also has an active Greek community. Located in a busy metro, students have the arts and culture-filled city at their fingertips, but can reap the benefits of the campus being located right on the banks of the Mississippi River, too.

  • Mississippi: University of Mississippi
    26/ Thomas Graning // Shutterstock

    Mississippi: University of Mississippi

    - Location: University, MS
    - Overall Niche grade: A-
    - Student life grade: A+ (Overall student life rank: #41)
    - Acceptance rate: 84%
    - Net price per year: $14,259
    - Student body size: 17,511 undergrads

    The University of Mississippi manages to hit a pretty consistent trifecta of lists, ranked as one of the best party schools in the country, one of the best for Greek life, and one of its most conservative. Fun fact: John Grisham, the literary king of the legal thriller, received his law degree at Ole Miss Law.

  • Missouri: Washington University in St. Louis
    27/ Phil Roeder // Flickr

    Missouri: Washington University in St. Louis

    - Location: Saint Louis, MO
    - Overall Niche grade: A+
    - Student life grade: A+ (Overall student life rank: #9)
    - Acceptance rate: 16%
    - Net price per year: $27,777
    - Student body size: 7,074 undergrads

    Washington University in St. Louis has the distinct honor of being ranked the #1 best college campus in the country on Niche. This helps explain why, in 2013, the college reported it received a record 30,000 applicants. Of the 1,500 freshmen admitted, 90% of them were ranked in the top 10% of their high school classes.

  • Montana: Montana State University
    28/ Tim Evanson // Flickr

    Montana: Montana State University

    - Location: Bozeman, MT
    - Overall Niche grade: B+
    - Student life grade: A- (Overall student life rank: #374)
    - Acceptance rate: 83%ƒ
    - Net price per year: $15,411
    - Student body size: 12,403 undergrads

    Montana State University Facilities Services collaborates with MSU's Culinary Services on edible landscaping on campus like apples, cedar, chives, crabapples, nasturtiums, and violets, and parsley—which students can sample in menus at dining centers as part of MSU's farm-to-campus initiative. An extension of the edible landscaping on campus is the Pollinator Health Center, where researchers aim to educate students and the public, and lessen pollinator losses, while also improving the health of pollinators. In June 2019, Culinary Services sourced a name for the queen bee of its new honeybee colony from students on social media—eventually settling on Queen Freddie MercurBee.

  • Nebraska: University of Nebraska—Lincoln
    29/ Ken Wolter // Shutterstock

    Nebraska: University of Nebraska—Lincoln

    - Location: Lincoln, NE
    - Overall Niche grade: A
    - Student life grade: A (Overall student life rank: #102)
    - Acceptance rate: 64%
    - Net price per year: $16,813
    - Student body size: 19,534 undergrads

    UNL is the oldest university in the Cornhusker State, and is a renowned public research institution. The university is celebrated for its football team, which has won 46 conference championships and five national championships. Its women's volleyball team has won five national championships, as well.

  • Nevada: University of Nevada—Reno
    30/ Nesnad //Wikimedia Commons

    Nevada: University of Nevada—Reno

    - Location: Reno, NV
    - Overall Niche grade: B+
    - Student life grade: A- (Overall student life rank: #274)
    - Acceptance rate: 88%
    - Net price per year: $16,230
    - Student body size: 15,572 undergrads

    The University of Nevada in Reno is a top destination for partying, ranking high on student-voted lists of best schools “to rage at.” The university is also a notoriously research-intensive campus. The school's structures laboratory within its school of engineering has been on the forefront of major innovations with regards to earthquake prediction and monitoring. Its school of journalism has produced six Pulitzer Prize winners.

  • New Hampshire: Dartmouth College
    31/ Dan Lewis // Shutterstock

    New Hampshire: Dartmouth College

    - Location: Hanover, NH
    - Overall Niche grade: A+
    - Student life grade: A (Overall student life rank: #112)
    - Acceptance rate: 10%
    - Net price per year: $22,303
    - Student body size: 4,360 undergrads

    The ninth-oldest educational institution in the country, Dartmouth College is one of America's premiere Ivy League universities. Its students have been repeatedly hailed as some of the most professionally sought-after in the world due to its unique academic rigor. Just this year, the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education listed Dartmouth as the only "majority-undergraduate, arts-and-sciences focused, doctoral university" in the United States with notably high research activity.

  • New Jersey: Rutgers University-New Brunswick
    32/ Benjamin Clapp // Shutterstock

    New Jersey: Rutgers University-New Brunswick

    - Location: Piscataway, NJ
    - Overall Niche grade: A
    - Student life grade: A+ (Overall student life rank: #89)
    - Acceptance rate: 58.%
    - Net price per year: $16,016
    - Student body size: 33,677 undergrads

    With more than 500 student organizations on campus to choose from, as well as only being an hour away from Philadelphia and New York City, students will have no trouble keeping busy at Rutgers University-New Brunswick. Living-Learning Communities allow students to live with other people that share similar academic interests or nonacademic passions. These special communities offer a support network comprised of peers, professors, and staff, and are especially geared toward first-year or transfer students.

  • New Mexico: New Mexico State University
    33/ AllenS // Wikimedia Commons

    New Mexico: New Mexico State University

    - Location: Las Cruces, NM
    - Overall Niche grade: B+
    - Student life grade: B- (Overall student life rank: #null)
    - Acceptance rate: 64%
    - Net price per year: $9,449
    - Student body size: 9,703 undergrads

    New Mexico State University has a plethora of extracurricular activities including LGBTQ+ programming, a radio station, and an interfaith council. The school received A grades in Niche's survey for diversity, athletics, and professors.

  • New York: Columbia University
    34/ Dmitri Sakharov // Shutterstock

    New York: Columbia University

    - Location: New York, NY
    - Overall Niche grade: A+
    - Student life grade: A+ (Overall student life rank: #28)
    - Acceptance rate: 7%
    - Net price per year: $22,824
    - Student body size: 7,592 undergrads

    Columbia University is the oldest college in the state of New York, and is the fifth-oldest in the country. Its mix of arts and letters—it ranks second in English and third in performing arts in the country on Niche—has helped establish its reputation, though name-dropping five Founding Fathers as alumni doesn't hurt either.

  • North Carolina: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
    35/ Nan-Cheng Tsai // Flickr

    North Carolina: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

    - Location: Chapel Hill, NC
    - Overall Niche grade: A+
    - Student life grade: A+ (Overall student life rank: #18)
    - Acceptance rate: 24%
    - Net price per year: $11,100
    - Student body size: 18,303 undergrads

    UNC is ranked by students as the sixth-best public university and best big college in the country. Additionally, the school has received worldwide attention for its UNC Medical Center, which opened in 1952. Since its inception, the program has focused on the research and development of a cure for cancer, making it one of the front-runners in the race to end the disease.

  • North Dakota: North Dakota State University
    36/ Brianna.glaus // Wikimedia Commons

    North Dakota: North Dakota State University

    - Location: Fargo, ND
    - Overall Niche grade: B+
    - Student life grade: A (Overall student life rank: #205)
    - Acceptance rate: 92%
    - Net price per year: $14,848
    - Student body size: 10,782 undergrads

    As a public research university, NDSU is ranked by students as a top university for agricultural studies in the United States. It's also been ranked in the top 100 best public universities in the country, simultaneously serving as the fifth-largest employer in the state of North Dakota.

  • Ohio: Ohio State University
    37/ aceshot1 // Shutterstock

    Ohio: Ohio State University

    - Location: Columbus, OH
    - Overall Niche grade: A+
    - Student life grade: A+ (Overall student life rank: #14)
    - Acceptance rate: 48%
    - Net price per year: $18,042
    - Student body size: 42,003 undergrads

    No other school comes close to rivaling Ohio State pride, thanks in large part to the crowd-pleasing Buckeyes, so it's no surprise that the school constantly ranks in the top 10 best college athletics programs in the country. That may also help explain why it consistently ranks as one of the country's best party schools too, coming in at #18.

  • Oklahoma: University of Oklahoma
    38/ Ken Wolter // Shutterstock

    Oklahoma: University of Oklahoma

    - Location: Norman, OK
    - Overall Niche grade: A
    - Student life grade: A+ (Overall student life rank: #56)
    - Acceptance rate: 74%
    - Net price per year: $20,003
    - Student body size: 19,065 undergrads

    OU is ranked first among public universities for enrollment of National Merit Scholars and has been recognized as ranking in the top 10 for number of graduated Rhodes Scholars. Neither are easy feats, nor is ranking fourth-best in the country for college athletics.

  • Oregon: University of Oregon
    39/ Joshua Rainey Photography // Shutterstock

    Oregon: University of Oregon

    - Location: Eugene, OR
    - Overall Niche grade: A-
    - Student life grade: A (Overall student life rank: #98)
    - Acceptance rate: 83%
    - Net price per year: $15,100
    - Student body size: 17,801 undergrads

    Also #1 on Niche's list of public universities in Oregon, University of Oregon offers more than 300 academic programs for students to choose from, and as a member of the Association of American Universities, is one of the top 62 research universities in the country. Whether living on campus or off, students can choose from four meal plans that give them access to nine sustainable dining spots on campus that all work with season ingredients sourced from local farms.

  • Pennsylvania: Penn State
    40/ Kristopher Kettner // Shutterstock

    Pennsylvania: Penn State

    - Location: University Park, PA
    - Overall Niche grade: A+
    - Student life grade: A+ (Overall student life rank: #10)
    - Acceptance rate: 50%
    - Net price per year: $25,346
    - Student body size: 39,785 undergrads

    Penn State is a massive school with two dozen undergraduate campuses spread out across Pennsylvania. The diversity between Penn State's branches—and students enrolled therein—allows the public university's 39,000-plus enrolees a plethora of choices for extracurricular activities. Clubs and organizations include an award-winning student newspaper, and the school's athletics feature 31 NCAA Division I teams.

  • Rhode Island: Brown University
    41/ Ad Meskens // Wikimedia Commons

    Rhode Island: Brown University

    - Location: Providence, RI
    - Overall Niche grade: A+
    - Student life grade: A+ (Overall student life rank: #35)
    - Acceptance rate: 8%
    - Net price per year: $25,651
    - Student body size: 6,666 undergrads

    Brown, one of the country's distinguished Ivy Leagues, is found by students to have the third-best teaching faculty in the country. Additionally, the University, which is itself a pillar of American education, is additionally one of the leaders in teaching education: Students rank it #3 in the country for its outstanding program.

  • South Carolina: University of South Carolina
    42/ Ken Wolter // Shutterstock

    South Carolina: University of South Carolina

    - Location: Columbia, SC
    - Overall Niche grade: A
    - Student life grade: A+ (Overall student life rank: #49)
    - Acceptance rate: 72%
    - Net price per year: $20,271
    - Student body size: 25,243 undergrads

    Almost three-quarters of all students at USC live off-campus, which one might assume would put a dent in student life on campus. Not so here, where Niche surveys show A+ scores for the school's party scene, student life, and athletics. South Carolina's flagship school was founded in 1801 and is among just a handful of higher education institutions to have the Carnegie top-tier designation for community engagement and research activity.

  • South Dakota: Augustana University
    43/ AlexiusHoratius // Wikimedia Commons

    South Dakota: Augustana University

    - Location: Sioux Falls, SD
    - Overall Niche grade: A-
    - Student life grade: A- (Overall student life rank: #304)
    - Acceptance rate: 68%
    - Net price per year: $18,937
    - Student body size: 1,679 undergrads

    An Evangelical Lutheran-affiliated school, Augustana University is considered by a majority of its students to be safe and secure as well as friendly and welcoming. Augustana is often ranked highly among Midwestern schools, but rarely among publications like The Princeton Review or U.S. News & World Report. As for its students? They rank the nursing program among the top 30 in the country.

  • Tennessee: Vanderbilt University
    44/ Sean Pavone // Shutterstock

    Tennessee: Vanderbilt University

    - Location: Nashville, TN
    - Overall Niche grade: A+
    - Student life grade: A+ (Overall student life rank: #38)
    - Acceptance rate: 11%
    - Net price per year: $23,295
    - Student body size: 6,805 undergrads

    Offering one of the best educations in the country—and the ninth-hardest school to be admitted to—Vanderbilt University is a Southern institution. The University was named after Cornelius Vanderbilt, the shipping magnate, whose great-great-great grandson is none other than news reporter Anderson Cooper. Cornelius Vanderbilt is said to have donated the $1 million endowment that jumpstarted the school, though he had never stepped foot in the South.

  • Texas: The University of Texas at Austin
    45/ Daderot // Wikimedia Commons

    Texas: The University of Texas at Austin

    - Location: Austin, TX
    - Overall Niche grade: A+
    - Student life grade: A+ (Overall student life rank: #5)
    - Acceptance rate: 36%
    - Net price per year: $14,356
    - Student body size: 37,740 undergrads

    The University of Texas at Austin received an A- grade overall for its social life, according to students attending or those who have attended and rated the school on StudentsReview, a website that has aggregated roughly 125,000 student reviews of 3,359 schools. The school's increasing diversity, push for student and community engagement, and high volume of student-run events and programming make UT Austin a hotbed of activity for its 51,000 students (more than 37,000 of whom are undergraduates). The school is widely lauded for its graduate programs in nursing, education, and law, among others, and its accounting program is regularly listed among the top in the country.

  • Utah: Brigham Young University
    46/ Ken Wolter // Shutterstock

    Utah: Brigham Young University

    - Location: Provo, UT
    - Overall Niche grade: A+
    - Student life grade: A+ (Overall student life rank: #62)
    - Acceptance rate: 52%
    - Net price per year: $12,979
    - Student body size: 28,156 undergrads

    Brigham Young University, sometimes called “the Y” by its community, boasts one of the 50 best film programs in the country, according to its students. Brigham Young's students have hailed many of the school's programs, including its information technology major, ranked fourth in the U.S., as some of the best.

  • Vermont: Middlebury College
    47/ daiji // Flickr

    Vermont: Middlebury College

    - Location: Middlebury, VT
    - Overall Niche grade: A+
    - Student life grade: A (Overall student life rank: #136)
    - Acceptance rate: 17%
    - Net price per year: $22,841
    - Student body size: 2,528 undergrads

    Middlebury College is historically noted for being the first institute of higher learning to grant a bachelor's degree to an African American student, Alexander Twilight. Students rank the school among the top five best liberal arts universities in the country, and in the top 10 best small colleges overall.

  • Virginia: Virginia Tech
    48/ Rui Serra Maia // Shutterstock

    Virginia: Virginia Tech

    - Location: Blacksburg, VA
    - Overall Niche grade: A+
    - Student life grade: A+ (Overall student life rank: #8)
    - Acceptance rate: 70%
    - Net price per year: $18,700
    - Student body size: 26,603 undergrads

    Viginia Tech scored A+ grades for athletics, professors, student life, value, campus, and campus food in Niche's survey results—proving the school earns its secure footing in the top five U.S. colleges for student life. The rurally located school, which was founded in 1872, has a very active Student Engagement and Campus Life group that is focused on holistic education, community-building, and collaboration.

  • Washington: University of Washington
    49/ Joe Mabel // Flickr

    Washington: University of Washington

    - Location: Seattle, WA
    - Overall Niche grade: A+
    - Student life grade: A+ (Overall student life rank: #50)
    - Acceptance rate: 46%
    - Net price per year: $9,443
    - Student body size: 28,759 undergrads

    The University of Washington is ranked by students as one of the 30 most diverse colleges in the country on Niche. It is the flagship institution of Washington State's higher educational system, which boasts six public universities. The University of Washington in 2015 received more than $1 billion in research funding, making it the third-largest for research grants among all American universities.

  • West Virginia: West Virginia University
    50/ Aparkswv // Wikimedia Commons

    West Virginia: West Virginia University

    - Location: Morgantown, WV
    - Overall Niche grade: A-
    - Student life grade: A+ (Overall student life rank: #65)
    - Acceptance rate: 72%
    - Net price per year: $11,486
    - Student body size: 20,712 undergrads

    Student life is alive and well at West Virginia University, since the campus ranks as the sixth-best party school in the country, according to its student body. The school's Greek life, however, is ranked as #31, meaning that its social scene doesn't necessarily need fraternities to thrive. The school is also listed among the top 100 public universities in the country.

  • Wisconsin: University of Wisconsin
    51/ Pixabay

    Wisconsin: University of Wisconsin

    - Location: Madison, WI
    - Overall Niche grade: A+
    - Student life grade: A+ (Overall student life rank: #2)
    - Acceptance rate: 54%
    - Net price per year: $15,910
    - Student body size: 28,977 undergrads

    The University of Wisconsin was the first public university to be constructed in the state and remains Wisconsin's oldest and largest. Its 933-acre campus is the site of four national monuments.

  • Wyoming: University of Wyoming
    52/ Thecoldmidwest // Wikimedia Commons

    Wyoming: University of Wyoming

    - Location: Laramie, WY
    - Overall Niche grade: A-
    - Student life grade: A- (Overall student life rank: #295)
    - Acceptance rate: 97%
    - Net price per year: $13,441
    - Student body size: 8,281 undergrads

    Students rank the University of Wyoming as having the best food of any college in the state, and hail its nursing program the best in state as well, according to Niche. As for notable alumni, former U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney proudly calls himself a lifelong U-Dubber.

2018 All rights reserved.