14 very small, very interesting colleges

At some point, you’ve certainly heard it said that big things can often come in small packages. Well, big colleges can sometimes come on small campuses, too.

In this slideshow (scroll down), you’ll find 14 tiny undergraduate institutions that punch well above their respective weight classes. The schools range in undergraduate population from about 30 students to just over 450 students. They’re also all over the map, geographically and culturally. Two of them are even free as well (and a third provides a $20,000 scholarship to every student).

Enrollment figures come from the College Board’s Big Future website.

Click an image below for larger version.
  • Tiny book. Photo - Flickr/The Shopping Sherpa
  • The King’s College is truly a fish out of water: an unabashedly Christian school smack dab in the middle of Lower Manhattan. The 460 or so undergraduate students here complete a 60-credit core that emphasizes writing, Western Civilization and the Bible. On the side, they also get to suck out all the marrow of the capital of the world. Photo - Facebook/The King's College
  • Just over 400 undergrads attend Christendom College, a very small and very Catholic liberal arts schools nestled in Virginia’s breathtaking Shenandoah Valley. Highlights here include a comprehensive, notably theological core curriculum and a junior semester in Rome (which isn’t required but pretty much everybody goes). Photo - Facebook/Christendom College
  • Located just west of the last suburban fringes of Washington, D.C. and established at the turn of the new millennium, Patrick Henry College is a decidedly Christian school with approximately 370 undergrads. Every student must complete a thorough, classical liberal arts core curriculum as well as an internship. Facebook/Patrick Henry College
  • The 360 students at St. John’s College in Santa Fe, New Mexico (and at its much older, slightly larger sister school in Annapolis) utterly immerse themselves in a four-year study of the greatest texts of Western Civilization, starting with Homer and hits the Bible, Machiavelli, Shakespeare and much else along the way. Photo - St. John's College website
  • Around 360 students attend Thomas Aquinas College, a demanding and seriously Catholic bastion of the liberal arts and sciences in rural Southern California that specializes in the Great Books. Every student completes the same four-year interdisciplinary, which includes Homer, Aristotle, St. Augustine, Shakespeare and, of course, plenty of St. Thomas Aquinas. Facebook/Thomas Aquinas College
  • The waterfront campus of College of the Atlantic is tucked away in the resort town of Bar Harbor, Maine. Coursework is hands-on and takes place during three 10-week terms. The 350 or so undergrads at COA -- every single one majoring in human ecology -- mostly hold strongly leftist views, and the vibe on campus is unmistakably crunchy and hippie. Facebook/College of the Altantic
  • Very unique Bard College at Simon’s Rock in the Berkshire Mountains of western Massachusetts bills itself as “the early college.” The roughly 350 students at Simon’s Rock bailed on high school in 10th or 11th grade to jumpstart their college careers. Highlights here include small, discussion-heavy classes and a wealth of interdisciplinary opportunities. Photo - Facebook/Bard College at Simons Rock Alumni
  • Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering in the suburbs of Boston is quite new -- it was established in 1997 -- and its challenging curriculum is firmly oriented in project-based, real-world engineering applications. The 350 nerdy, quirky, insanely intelligent students on Olin’s campus all receive annual scholarships worth $20,000. Photo - Facebook/Olin College of Engineering
  • Tiny, rigorous Marlboro College in the rural, isolated, snowy hamlet of Marlboro, Vermont is home to about 300 total students. Students work one on one with their small but dedicated group of professors, devising their own curricula and, before graduating, writing intensive research papers. Photo - Flickr/redjar
  • Just over 220 undergrads attend Harrisburg University of Science and Technology, a private school in Pennsylvania’s capital city founded in 2001 to address the local region’s dearth of schools teaching skills in STEM fields (science, technology, engineering and math). Hands-on learning is big; an internship and two independent projects are required to graduate. Facebook/Harrisburg Univ. of Science and Tech.
  • It’s all about treating students as individuals at progressive, highly nontraditional Burlington College in Vermont’s largest city (over 40,000!). The 180 or so determined free spirits who attend get tons of individual attention and, at least relatively speaking, access to a multitude of programs. Photo - Facebook/Burlington College
  • About 150 undergrads attend pint-sized New Saint Andrews College in downtown Moscow, Idaho. While the school was founded in 1994, its curriculum is patterned after the Harvard curriculum of 1643. Classical Christian liberal arts are the centerpiece -- really the only piece -- of the educational experience. Also, compared to most private colleges, tuition is absolutely dirt cheap. Photo - Facebook/New Saint Andrews College
  • Miniscule Webb Institute on Long Island produces the nation’s -- and the world’s -- leading ship designers. There are about 80 students on campus. They’re all double-majoring in naval architecture and marine engineering. They all receive four-year, full-tuition scholarships, too. The only school-related costs to students at Webb are books, supplies and room and board. Photo - Facebook/Webb Institute
  • Deep Springs College is an ultra-intense, ultra-austere two-year liberal arts college located somewhere in California’s High Desert. There are fewer than 30 students, all on full scholarships. In the mornings, they attend small, discussion-heavy classes. In the afternoons, they work every aspect of the on-campus cattle ranch and alfalfa farm. Upon graduation, students typically transfer to prestigious, big-name schools. Photo - Facebook/Deep Springs College

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