For those seeking a more traditional college experience, the allure of a small college town can be hard to ignore. Small college towns offer a tight-knit student community that are sometimes overlooked at larger colleges in metropolitan areas. At smaller colleges, there are typically less distractions and more access to relaxing outdoor activities. Here is our list of the top 10 small town colleges that provide the ideal traditional college experience.
Location: Hanover, NH
Town Population: 11,260
School Enrollment: 6,298
Hidden in a rural town in the middle of a forest, Dartmouth is the last remaining Ivy League university that still feels like a college. Apart from being a highly prestigious academic university, Dartmouth is also a small school where everyone knows each other, including the professors. Dartmouth professors are always willing to sit down and talk one on one with students.
The town of Hanover itself is a small town, and everything you will need is close enough to walk or bike to. It is surrounded by the beautiful forests of New Hampshire with plenty to see, including the sculptured rocks in the Cockermouth River and Wadleigh State Park.
Location: Ithaca, NY
Town Population: 30,515
School Enrollment: 21,850
There are few college campuses that boast as much beauty as Cornell University. The campus is surrounded by nature trails and has a small lake in the middle of campus. The buildings are made of brick to give the campus a traditional feeling. It is a strong academic school where it is also easy to make friends. With over 800 school clubs to join, the student body at Cornell is actively involved with extracurricular activities, as well as school sponsored activities on campus
Ithaca is a peaceful town nestled alongside the southern tip of Cayuga Lake in the finger lake region of New York. The lake offers excellent swimming and is used often for sailing. The town is full of “Ma & Pa” stores and restaurants that give Ithaca an easy, classic feeling.
Location: Middlebury, VT
Town Population: 8,496
School Enrollment: 2,526
Middlebury College goes above and beyond the call of duty to help its students have the best possible experience. Freshmen spend their first year living on campus to help them make friends and smooth out the transition from living at home to going to college. They also believe that learning is a major part of the Middlebury experience, and so they keep their classes small. The average class size at Middlebury is 16, with the student-teacher ratio at an impressive 9:1.
Those who are unfamiliar with the mountains of Vermont are missing out on one of America’s best kept natural secrets. Middlebury sits at the feet of the Green Mountains, which are called the Green Mountains for a reason. There are several mountains and valleys within close proximity to Middlebury, including the stunning Adirondack Mountains. Lake Champlain is close to campus as well and has some of the best fishing in the United States. Middlebury College is also one of two schools in the country that has its own ski facility. The Middlebury Snow Bowl offers 17 ski trails and also is the hosts the Middlebury ski team’s practices and competitions.
Location: Logan, UT
Town Population: 48,913
School Enrollment: 27,662
Utah State University is a larger university that has the feel of a small town. In spite of its large enrollment, students at USU still feel like they run into friends almost everywhere they go. Campus is full of school spirit which is reflected in how connected the students feel to each other. The school has excellent sport programs including football, basketball, and even quidditch.
Logan is nearly the perfect college town. It is large enough to provide all the in-city entertainment you could need, yet rural enough for the outdoor lovers to enjoy. The mountains surrounding Logan are breathtaking and offer a variety of outdoor activities including hiking, skiing, and local outdoor attractions such as the wind tunnels. In town, dances such as country and swing are held at couple nights each week and there are always campus activities going on.
Location: Grove City, PA
Town Population: 8,199
School Enrollment: 2,461
Grove City College is a great place to earn a quality education and make great friends at the same time. The campus is beautiful, and the school has a close-knit student body. The students are really nice and the professors are extremely helpful and caring. The professors at Grove City College actually take the time to learn their student’s names. The school sponsors several activities, including religious and service activities for their students to get involved in.
Grove City is small town with lots of parks for students to use. On the weekends, several students go to ballroom and swing dancing activities, as well as other events being held in town. There are several opportunities to go out and explore western Pennsylvania. If students need a break from the rural atmosphere, Pittsburgh is only an hour away.
Location: Blacksburg, VA
Town Population: 43,609
School Enrollment: 30,598
At Virginia Tech, football is king. In the fall, campus spirits live and die with the Hokie football team. Regardless of the score, the social scene comes alive on weekends around the football games. Tailgating and other student activities last throughout the weekend, and the campus itself sponsors several activities. The student body is active and friendly. Those looking for something to do can just walk down the street and join in a frisbee game or any other activity they see.
The campus is located in the Appalachian Mountains, and what these mountains lack in size they make up for in beauty. The outdoor life in Blacksburg offers water rafting, hiking, kayaking, and several camping locations. Students usually spend time heading into the mountains in groups, making it easy to catch a ride and make friends.
Location: Williamstown, MA
Town Population: 7,754
School Enrollment: 2,150
Located in the foothills of Mount Greylock in Williamstown, Williams College gives students the opportunity to have their college experience in a small, rural setting. Students can take advantage of the natural attractions around them such as the state park, nature preserve, and forest surrounding the town. One of the college’s traditions is called Mountain Day, in which all classes are cancelled so that students can climb Stony Ledge if they’re up for it. Those students who are more used to a city life can take part in the annual Williamstown Film Festival and the Billsville House Concerts. All students can enjoy the Hopkins Observatory, the oldest observatory in the country still in operation, as well as view the first printing of George Washington’s copy of The Federalist Papers, the Bill of Rights, the Declaration of Independence, and the U.S. Constitution.
Location: San Marcos, TX
Town Population: 54,076
School Enrollment: 37,979
Being a student at Texas State University means more than just going to class. While the education students receive at TSU is decent, the experiences they have there are fantastic. Dorms and off-campus housing are all very social, making it easy to make good friendships that will last beyond college.
A student doesn’t truly become a Wildcat until they float down the nearby San Marcos River. The river is an iconic location where students will usually spend several weekends at throughout their college years. There are also several rock climbing and hiking trails within an hour of town. San Marcos is located an hour from San Antonio and 45 minutes from Austin, making it easy for students to attend concerts and other live music events nearby.
Location: Lewisburg, PA
Town Population: 5,733
School Enrollment: 3,624
Bucknell University helps make the transition from high school to college as easy as possible. They have a great orientation process and sponsor several activities for freshmen to help them socially acclimate to college life. The students at Bucknell are some of the happiest college students in the country and claim that it is really easy to make friends there. This school is perfect for those who want to be surrounded by ambitious and hardworking people.
Lewisburg is a rural town with not much to do, making it perfect for students looking to escape distractions. For fun, some students will frequently take day trips into the surrounding countryside.
Location: Laramie, WY
Town Population: 31,814
School Enrollment: 12,627
The university goes out of its way to make sure there are things for their students to do. They constantly throw events for all of their students, so there are usually always activities on campus. The classes are small and the professors genuinely care about the success of their students. They are willing to meet with their students at any time if they need to making the University of Wyoming a great choice.
Inside the city limits of Laramie, there’s not much to do. However, for the wildlife enthusiast, there is lots to do once you leave town. There are lots of places to go shooting, fishing, and hunting just outside of town. Students often have bonfires, go rock climbing, or go skiing for entertainment.