MIT

For many prospective college students, the idea of attending a class with 400-plus students or sharing a campus with thousands of classmates is overwhelming. Making the adjustment to young adulthood is difficult enough, and the added pressure of navigating through a sea of other people can provide added stress. Other students might simply prefer smaller class sizes, a preference not necessarily tied to social apprehension.

For those who feel this way, there are plenty of smaller top-tier universities to choose from. Earlier this month, StartClass highlighted the top large colleges in the country. Now, we take a look at the nation's best small schools. For this list, we only considered schools with fewer than 5,000 undergraduate students.

Schools are ranked according to their Smart Rating, which is a comprehensive score designed to evaluate a college's overall effectiveness. The Smart Rating is based on five main factors — financial affordability, career readiness, admissions selectivity, expert opinion and academic excellence — and uses the most recent data from the National Center for Education Statistics. In the event of ties, the school with the fewest students was ranked higher on the list.

Of the 25 schools listed, six are located in New York, including two in New York City. Attending college in the Big Apple certainly could be overwhelming in its own right, but having a smaller community of classmates can counteract the hustle and bustle of the big city.

#25. Colby College

 

Smart Rating: 97.81

Undergraduate enrollment: 1,847

Acceptance rate: 28 percent

Average SAT score: 2000

#24. Barnard College

 

Smart Rating: 97.86

Undergraduate enrollment: 2,573

Acceptance rate: 23.8 percent

Average SAT score: 2035

#23. Colgate University

 

Smart Rating: 97.92

Undergraduate enrollment: 2,875

Acceptance rate: 26.2 percent

Average SAT score: 2062

#22. Hamilton College

 

Smart Rating: 97.99

Undergraduate enrollment: 1,904

Acceptance rate: 26.3 percent

Average SAT score: 2085

#21. Davidson College

 

Smart Rating: 98.09

Undergraduate enrollment: 1,770

Acceptance rate: 21.7 percent

Average SAT score: 2000

#20. Middlebury College

 

Smart Rating: 98.12

Undergraduate enrollment: 2,526

Acceptance rate: 17.2 percent

Average SAT score: 2065

#19. Grinnell College

 

Smart Rating: 98.12

Undergraduate enrollment: 1,734

Acceptance rate: 28 percent

Average SAT score: 2092

#18. Vassar College

 

Smart Rating: 98.13

Undergraduate enrollment: 2,421

Acceptance rate: 23.5 percent

Average SAT score: 2110

#17. Wellesley College

 

Smart Rating: 98.14

Undergraduate enrollment: 2,323

Acceptance rate: 30.1 percent

Average SAT score: 2095

#16. United States Air Force Academy

 

Smart Rating: 98.16

Undergraduate enrollment: 3,952

Acceptance rate: 16.6 percent

Average SAT score: 1950

#15. Carleton College

 

Smart Rating: 98.17

Undergraduate enrollment: 2,057

Acceptance rate: 22.8 percent

Average SAT score: 2115

#14. Haverford College

 

Smart Rating: 98.20

Undergraduate enrollment: 1,194

Acceptance rate: 24.7 percent

Average SAT score: 2115

#13. Claremont McKenna College

 

Smart Rating: 98.23

Undergraduate enrollment: 1,301

Acceptance rate: 10.8 percent

Average SAT score: 2155

#12. Washington and Lee University

 

Smart Rating: 98.33

Undergraduate enrollment: 1,890

Acceptance rate: 19.5 percent

Average SAT score: 2075

#11. United States Military Academy

 

Smart Rating: 98.34

Undergraduate enrollment: 4,414

Acceptance rate: 9.5 percent

Average SAT score: 1880

#10. Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art

 

Smart Rating: 98.34

Undergraduate enrollment: 893

Acceptance rate: 15.1 percent

Average SAT score: 2035

#9. Swarthmore College

 

Smart Rating: 98.52

Undergraduate enrollment: 1,542

Acceptance rate: 17 percent

Average SAT score: 2172

#8. Dartmouth College

 

Smart Rating: 98.60

Undergraduate enrollment: 4,289

Acceptance rate: 11.5 percent

Average SAT score: 2195

#7. Williams College

 

Smart Rating: 98.61

Undergraduate enrollment: 2,072

Acceptance rate: 19.3 percent

Average SAT score: 2190

#6. Harvey Mudd College

 

Smart Rating: 98.61

Undergraduate enrollment: 804

Acceptance rate: 14.2 percent

Average SAT score: 2214

#5. Amherst College

 

Smart Rating: 98.66

Undergraduate enrollment: 1,792

Acceptance rate: 13.8 percent

Average SAT score: 2169

#4. Rice University

 

Smart Rating: 98.72

Undergraduate enrollment: 3,926

Acceptance rate: 15.1 percent

Average SAT score: 2190

#3. Pomona College

 

Smart Rating: 98.75

Undergraduate enrollment: 1,650

Acceptance rate: 12.2 percent

Average SAT score: 2195

#2. California Institute of Technology

 

Smart Rating: 99.16

Undergraduate enrollment: 983

Acceptance rate: 8.8 percent

Average SAT score: 2310

#1. Massachusetts Institute of Technology

 

Smart Rating: 99.50

Undergraduate enrollment: 4,512

Acceptance rate: 7.9 percent

Average SAT score: 2230

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