The Best Colleges for ISTJs

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ISTJs make up about 13% of the population, and we should be grateful for it. These are people who prize loyalty, logic, and hard-work. They’re Jacks and Jills of all trades, able to tackle seemingly overwhelming problems through strict organization and ability to break things down to the fundamentals. Perhaps more important, they exude a calm confidence where others might throw up their hands in hopelessness. No problem is impossible if addressed in the appropriate manner. They also place a high value on honesty and integrity: cross them and you’re unlikely to regain their trust any time soon. They can occasionally come across as stubborn or intransigent, but that’s not coming from a place of pride; it’s coming from a sense of duty and a by-the-book ethos. If you follow the rules, it’ll eventually pay out. If you don’t, then it’s on you for compromising the system in the first place. Below are our top 25 schools for ISTJs, which were ranked according to the following ISTJ-centric scoring system.

Looking for advice on what type of school and major to choose? Check out our Interview Series. Are you an ISTJ? Check out our Best Career and College Advice for ISTJs from 3 Successful ISTJs.

Methodology:

  • 1/4) Number of Majors in the Social and Natural Sciences
  • (1/4) Alumni Giving Rank
  • 1/4) Number of Study Abroad Countries
  • 1/4) Grad / Ret. Rank

1. Swarthmore College

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Swarthmore College, about 10 miles south of Philadelphia, has a student body of approximately 1,600 and student-to-faculty ratio of 8:1. It is ranked among the top 5 liberal arts schools in the country by many publications, and the Princeton Review ranked it #1 for value for four consecutive years, which practical-minded ISTJs can appreciate. In fact, only 33% of its students graduate with any debt. Following the Oxbridge tutorial model, students take double-credit seminars their junior year (only 4-8 student per class) and complete honors theses. Further, Swarthmore has an engineering program, unique for a small liberal arts school of its kind. Its alumni are among the most loyal in the country, ranking in the top 20 nationally for giving. The most popular areas of study are in the Social Sciences, Biology, Computer and Information Sciences and Support Services, Psychology, Mathematics, and Statistics. Swarthmore also has study abroad opportunities in nearly 70 countries.

2. Yale University

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Yale University, in New Haven, Connecticut, has a student body of approximately 12,300 and holds a student-to-faculty ratio of 6:1, among the very best you’re going find. Yale’s alumni roll is obviously impressive: 5 U.S. Presidents, 19 U.S. Supreme Court Justices, Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, 52 Nobel Laureates, 230 Rhodes Scholars, and many foreign heads of state. (We’re pretty sure can spot some ISTJs in there.) Yale alumni are also impressively loyal to their alma mater, ranking 13th nationally in giving. There are 500 student-run organizations and groups on campus, which include the Yale College Council, Yale Political Union, Yale International Relations Association, the Elizabethan Club, and many more that promote the kinds of leadership values that all ISTJs can appreciate. Perhaps most important, thanks to Yale’s $25.5 billion endowment, the university is able to offer exceptional financial aid packages, and only 16% of students graduate with any debt. Among the most popular areas of study include Economics, Political Science and Government, Biology, History, and Psychology.

3. Carleton College

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Carleton College, in Northfield, Minnesota, is one of the top-10 rated liberal arts colleges in the country. Equally important to many ISTJs, Kiplinger’s Personal Finance has ranked Carleton 14th in the country for value in a liberal arts college; the Brookings Institution ranked it 5th for “Four-Year or Higher Colleges With the Highest Value-Added With Respect to Mid-Career Earnings.” (Carleton adds a 43% increase.) Its alumni include multiple Supreme Court Justices, the editor-in-chief of Politico, a U.S. Secretary of Defense, 104 National Science Graduate Fellows, 91 Fulbright Scholars, 21 Watson Fellows, 13 Goldwater Scholars, and 2 Rhodes Scholars. Nationally, Carleton College alumni are tied for 7th overall in alumni giving. With a 880-acre arboretum and scenic, rural campus, Carleton is widely considered to be one of the most beautiful schools in the country. There are nearly 200 student clubs and organizations, including a student-run radio station, several comedy troupes, six a cappella groups, a mock trial team, 14 religious organizations, and 26 minority and international clubs. Further, there are more than 70 countries in which to study abroad. Four of Carleton’s most popular majors are in the natural and social sciences.

4. Bates College

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Bates College, in Lewiston, Maine, has a student body of approximately 1,800 and 10:1 student-to-faculty ratio. Academic offerings are wide and varied. Out of the 36 majors offered, the most popular are in Economics, Psychology, Politics, History, Biology, the Physical Sciences, and more. There is a Liberal Arts-Engineering Dual Degree Program through Dartmouth, Columbia, and Washington University in St. Louis. Bates also offers interdisciplinary majors and 25 secondary concentrations, giving ISTJs the opportunity to have highly customized courses of study. The school is a particularly good buy, as well. Ranked among the top 10 liberal arts schools in the country, the Princeton Review has previously ranked it first in terms of value, and just 40% of its students graduate with any debt. There are number of opportunities on and off campus, including 110 student clubs and organizations. Still, for those who like to explore, there are 65 countries in which to study abroad. Its alumni base ranks 14th in the country for giving.

5 (tied). Rice University

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Rice University, in Houston, Texas, has a student body of about 6,600 and a stellar student-to-faculty ratio of 6:1. One thing ISTJs can definitely get behind – Rice’s proud honor code. Nearly all exams are un-proctored and are often completed as take-home tests for students’ convenience. Beyond its obvious ethical merit, the Honor Code promotes a spirit of academic and moral integrity across campus that bounds the community toward a common goal and belief system. During Freshman orientation, all students are required to pass an Honor Code test, ensuring each student knows his or her academic duties. A highly regarded university, Rice has receive high marks for its entrepreneurial and applied science programs; further, ISTJs should note that the school ranks 4th in Kiplinger’s Personal Finance and 3rd in Consumer’s Digest for best value. While there are plenty of activities on and around campus, students also have the opportunity to study abroad in over 60 countries. Alumni rank in the top 20 for giving, and only 29% graduate with any debt at all, among the lowest percentages in the country.

5 (tied). Claremont McKenna College

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Claremont McKenna College, outside of Los Angeles, has a student body of about 1,350, and is considered a top 10 liberal arts college in the country by U.S. News and World Report. Further, ISTJs can appreciate that the school has received high marks from Money and Kiplinger’s Personal Finance for value. Thanks to a need-blind admissions process, only 31% of students graduate with any debt at all. CMC’s curriculum is both broad-based and grounded. All students must complete a humanities seminar and a writing seminar their first year, three semesters of a foreign language (or demonstrated proficiency), a mathematics or computer science course, one lab science, and two humanities courses and three social science courses in areas outside the major. Further, all students complete a senior thesis to demonstrate mastery of the subject. The school’s most popular areas of study are in Economics, Government, International relations, and Psychology. Approximately 40% of students major in either Government or Economics, both of which are in line with the ISTJ type. For those interested, CMC also offers study abroad opportunities in nearly 50 countries.

7 (tied). University of Pennsylvania

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The University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia has a student body of 20,000 total enrolled and a 6:1 student-to-faculty ratio. As one of the premier universities in the country (and, for that matter, the world), its founder, Benjamin Franklin, wanted to design a curriculum that stressed practical studies as much as the traditional classics education. As so, five of the schools most popular majors are in the natural and social sciences. In addition, Penn offers specialized coordinated dual-degrees, including Liberal Studies and Technology, Computer and Cognitive Science, the Integrated Program in Energy Research, and much more. For interested students, there are study abroad opportunities in 49 countries worldwide. There are 350 student organizations and clubs on campus, 70 of which are for religious, minority, or cause-based groups. (In 2015, the Penn Newman Catholic Center – managed to to get a visit from Pope Francis for the World Meeting of Families.) Finally, Penn alumni, which include some high profile names, rank 13th in the nation for annual giving.

7 (tied). Bowdoin College

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Bowdoin College, in Brunswick, Maine, has a student body of approximately 1,800 with a student-to-faculty ratio of 9:1. U.S. News and World Report has ranked it as the 4th best liberal arts school in the country, with the 4th best value. The core curriculum requires one course in each of the following: Natural Sciences, Quantitative Reasoning, Visual and Performing Arts, International Perspectives, and Exploring Social Differences. Among the most popular areas of study are in Political Science, Economics, Mathematics, Biology, and History. There are also numerous students organizations and clubs on campus, including social houses, outdoor programs, several student-run publications, and a number of a cappella groups, among others. Bowdoin has study abroad opportunities in nearly 50 countries worldwide, which ISTJs should take advantage of when they want to get out of the rural (and beautiful) Maine campus. Also of note: just 32% of students graduate with any debt.

9 (tied). Brandeis University

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Brandeis University, in Waltham, Massachusetts, has a student body of around 3,600, with two-thirds of classes have less than students. Brandeis offers a classically well-rounded liberal arts foundation and 43 majors, 5 of the most popular being in the natural and social sciences. (An added boon, as a member of the Boston Consortium, Brandeis students can cross-register at such prestigious schools as Boston College, MIT, and Tufts University.) In addition to being ranked 34th for best value by Kiplinger’s Personal Finance, Brandeis students are ranked first in the country by the Princeton Review for student engagement in community service, something civic-minded ISTJs should note. While the school has a wealth of activities on campus, including a vibrant scene of student-run publications, there are also study abroad opportunities in nearly 70 countries. Brandeis alumni – which includes Thomas Friedman, Nobel Prize Laureates, and more – rank 20th in the nation for annual giving. Forty percent of its student graduate with no debt.

9 (tied). Brown University

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Brown University, in Providence, Rhode Island, has a student body of 9,000 and an impressive alumni roll call: 7 Nobel Prize winners, 57 Rhodes Scholars, 5 National Humanities Medalists, 8 billionaire graduates,10 National Medal of Science laureates, and a record number of Fulbright, Marshall, and Mitchell scholars. Fortunately, these alumni have also been commendably loyal to their alma mater: the school ranks 6th in the country for annual giving, which helps support Brown’s $3+ billion endowment. That endowment, in turn, also allows the school to offer its students generous financial aid packages, and nearly 70% of Brown students graduate with zero debt. Among the school’s most popular majors, 4 are in the natural and social sciences (which break down into the following demos: 42% social sciences, 25% humanities, 17% life sciences, and 14% physical sciences.) ISTJs with a particular interest in design and architecture should take note of Brown’s 5-year dual enrollment program with the Rhode Island School of Design. (Though don’t get your hopes up: the acceptance rate here is just 3.3%.) There are also study abroad opportunities in 53 countries.

9 (tied). Colby College

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Colby College, in Waterville, Maine, has a student body of about 1,800. Ranked as one of the top liberal arts schools in the country, Kiplinger’s Personal Finance has also ranked it 23rd overall for best value among liberal arts schools. Thanks to a 4-1-4 semester plan, students have a winter term, or “Jan-Plan,” in which they can enroll in one intensive course, pursue independent research, or complete an off-campus internship, which jack-of-all-trades ISTJs should enjoy. Among the most popular areas of study are in the Social Sciences, Biology, Multi/Interdisciplinary Studies, English Language and Literature, and the Physical Sciences. (There are 54 majors offered, in total.) There are also 66 countries in which to study abroad – Russia, Spain, and France, among them; 66% of Colby students study abroad in some form. The college has numerous student-run organizations and clubs, ranging from student-run government to a cappella groups. Just 33% of its students graduate with debt.

9 (tied). Princeton University

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Princeton University’s alumni base speaks for itself: 2 U.S. Presidents, 12 U.S. Supreme Court Justices, numerous U.S. congressmen, 41 Nobel laureates, 17 National Medal of Science winners, the most Abel Prize winners and Fields Medalists of any university, 209 Rhodes Scholars, 10 Turing Award laureates, and countless other highly distinguished graduates across a wide variety of fields. Princeton alumni also have an excellent record of giving back to their alma mater – in fact, the best. Princeton ranks 1st nationally in alumni giving, which in turn helps the school’s need blind admissions policy provide generous financial aid packages; just 17% of Princeton students graduate with any debt. There are numerous study abroad opportunities, and, on campus, students have can get involved in more than 300 clubs and organizations. Five of Princeton’s most popular majors are in the natural and social sciences.

13 (tied). Carnegie Mellon University

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Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, has a student body of about 13,400. Originally Carnegie Technical, the school is a bastion for the sciences; in particular, its programs in engineering (computer, environmental, materials science, and more), computer science, business, and economics are routinely ranked among the top 5 and top 10 in the nation. Carnegie Mellon is also ranked as the nation’s best IT school. For the jack-of-all-trades ISTJ, the university also has top 5-rated drama, performance arts, and MFA programs. Its alumni and faculty include 9 Nobel Laureates, 14 Members of the National Academy of Sciences, 50 Members of National Academy of Engineering, and 12 Turing Awards Recipients; alumni include the inventor of Kevlar, the creator of Java programming language, the co-founder of Sun Microsystems, and more. Alumni giving ranks among the best in the country, and there are nearly 300 students clubs and organizations in which to participate. Five of the school’s most popular majors are in the social and natural sciences.

13 (tied). Wellesley College

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Wellesley College, an original member of the Seven Sisters Colleges, has a student body of approximately 2,500. It is the highest-rated women’s college and ranks 4th overall among all liberal arts schools. Some particularly notable alumni include Hillary Clinton, Madeleine Albright, Soong Mei-ling, Cokie Roberts, and Diane Sawyer – many of whom exhibit ISTJ-like traits. Further, its alumni are among the most loyal in the country, ranking 7th for annual giving. Wellesley classes average between just 17 and 20 students, and the student-to-faculty ratio is an impressive 7:1. In other words, for students who value intimate learning environments, Wellesley is a solid pick. The school also has dual degree programs with MIT and Olin College (for ISTJs who want a BS to complement their BA), and research partnerships with Harvard University , Babson College, and Brandeis University. Students interested in study abroad opportunities can choose from nearly 60 countries.

13 (tied). Duke University

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Duke University, in Durham, North Carolina, has a student body of around 15,000. The school ranks 5th in the nation in producing Rhodes, Marshall, Truman, Goldwater, and Udall Scholars. Other alumni include Richard Nixon, Ron Paul, William Styron, Charlie Rose, and the CEOs or Presidents of Apple, Morgan Stanley, JPMorgan Chase, Procter & Gamble, Pfizer, Boston Scientific Corporation, and more. There are 75 Duke alumni clubs across the country and 38 nationally; collectively, they rank 11th in the nation for annual giving. The university’s curricular offerings are varied and wide: 46 arts and sciences majors, 4 engineering majors, 52 Minors (including two in engineering), “Program II,” which is a customized interdisciplinary major in the arts & sciences, and IDEAS, which allows students to design their own engineering major. Five of the most popular degrees are in the natural and social sciences. (For those interested, twenty-four certificate programs are available.) There are also 39 countries in which students can study abroad. Under 40% of Duke students graduate with any debt.

13 (tied). Pomona College

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Pomona College, in Claremont, California, has a student body of approximately 1,700. Forbes ranked it first among all undergraduate colleges and universities in the United States, while U.S. News and World Report has it tied for 4th among liberal arts schools, alongside Bowdoin, Middlebury, and Wellesley. Pomona’s alumni base ranks 41st in the nation for annual giving, and includes individuals from all over: 24% in education, 24% in business/finance, 10% are in law and government, 10% are in health and medicine, 4% are in science and technology, 5% are in arts and media. In other words, for the ISTJ whose interests are varied, Pomona is more than able to keep up the pace. Further, there are more than 280 student organizations and clubs on campus, including outdoor clubs, special interest groups, volunteer organizations, several student-run publications, and more. Pomona also offers study abroad opportunities in 30 countries worldwide. Five of the school’s most popular majors are in the social and natural sciences. Only 34% of students graduate with debt.

13 (tied). Haverford College

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Haverford College in Pennsylvania has been ranked 12th among liberal arts schools by U.S. News and 11th among all colleges and universities by Forbes is a member of the Tri-College Consortium, which allows students to cross-register at both Bryn Mawr College and Swarthmore College. (Through the Quaker Consortium, students can also take classes from he University of Pennsylvania’s College of General Studies.) Its alumni include 67 Fulbright Scholars, 62 Watson Fellows, 24 Goldwater Scholars, 20 Rhodes Scholars, 18 Guggenheim Fellows, 4 MacArthur Fellows, and 3 Nobel Prize Recipients – not bad for a small liberal arts school. What’s more, its alumni also rank 15th in the country for annual giving. Of the 31 majors are offered on campus, 4 of the most popular are in the natural and social sciences. For those interested, there are also unique concentrations in Africana studies, biochemistry, computer science, education, feminist and gender studies, health and society, mathematical economics, neural and behavioral sciences, and peace, justice, and human rights, among many others. Just 26% of Haverford students graduate with any debt.

13 (tied). Wesleyan University

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Wesleyan University, in Middletown, Connecticut, has a student body of just over 3,000. Among its varied alumni include Matthew Weiner, Bill Belichick, Benh Zeitlin, Michael Bay, and hundreds of U.S. congressmen and government officials. The school ranks 17th overall in annual alumni giving. Of Wesleyan’s 46 undergraduate degrees, 4 of the most popular are in the natural and social sciences, which ISTJs tend to prefer. From there, the university also offers 13 interdisciplinary degrees, 11 minors, 7 certificates. As many as 40% of Wesleyan students choose to double major. Also note that for more physical science-minded ISTJs, Wesleyan offers 3-2 programs in engineering with the California Institute of Technology and Columbia University. There are approximately 270 student clubs and organizations, and the school has been ranked in U.S. News‘s “20 Colleges Where It’s Easiest to Get Involved.” Alternatively, there more than 40 countries in which to study abroad. Less than 40% of students graduate with any debt.

19. Middlebury College

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Middlebury College in Vermont has a student body of around 2,500, drawing from all 50 states and 74 countries. U.S. News ranks it 4th among liberal arts schools in the country, and its long list of high profile alumni have helped place the school 5th overall in annual giving. Of the school’s 44 offered majors, 5 of the most popular are in the natural and social sciences – namely, economics, international studies, English and American literatures, political science, psychology, and environmental studies. About 30% of Middlebury students choose to double major, and another 30% choose from one of the college’s interdisciplinary programs. In other words, ISTJs have plenty of academic freedom and room to experiment. In fact, the school’s 4-14 plan, with a winter term, allows students to to enroll in one intensive course, follow independent research, or work at an an off-campus internship. ISTJs who prefer going it alone should also note that students can choose between 216(!) countries for study abroad programs, by far the most on the list.

20 (tied). Johns Hopkins University

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Johns Hopkins University, in Baltimore, Maryland, has an undergraduate student body of around 6,000. The university ranks in the top 10 for U.S. News and World Report, and has a list of alumni and associates that include 36 Nobel Laureates, Woodrow Wilson, Michael Bloomberg, and many more. The school ranks 9th overall in alumni annual giving. (In fact, Bloomberg himself is responsible for the largest single donation to a university in the history of the United States; he has given over $1 billion total.) Thanks to its endowment and alumni support, the school boasts an average financial needs-met of 99%, and half of JHU students graduate with zero debt. Five of the school’s most popular majors are in the social and natural sciences. There are a large number of student organizations and clubs, including Greek Life, many student-run publications, an outdoors club, and even several student-run businesses through the Hopkins Student Enterprises (HSE). For its independent, entrepreneurial-minded, and loyal student (and alumni) body, ISTJs should be right at home.

20 (tied). Washington and Lee University

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Washington and Lee University, in Lexington, Virginia, has a student body of around 2,000. The school is ranked 14th among liberal arts schools by U.S. News, and, perhaps more important, sits atop Kiplinger’s Personal Finance for best value colleges. Of the 42 majors offered, several of the most popular are in the social and natural sciences. There are also several interdisciplinary majors in Neuroscience, Medieval and Renaissance studies, and Russian area studies, and 22 minors, of which include African-American studies, East Asian studies, Environmental Studies, Latin American and Caribbean studies, Poverty and Human Capability Studies, and Women’s and Gender studies. The school ranks 12th in the nation for alumni giving, and just 32% of students graduate with any debt. There are numerous student organizations and activities, including a Mock Convention, the Fancy Dress Ball, Greek Life, and much more. The university also has study abroad opportunities in 64 countries worldwide.

20 (tied). Colgate University

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Colgate University, in Hamilton, New York, has a student body of nearly 3,000 and is ranked in the top 20 among liberal arts schools in the country by U.S. News and World Report. Its alumni base is generous with both their time and money: not only do Colgate graduates rank in the top 20 in annual giving, the school is also the tenth largest producer of Peace Corps graduates, something ISTJs (and everyone else) can appreciate. Of the school’s 54 major offerings, three of the most popular are in the social and natural sciences. Colgate also has the distinct honor of routinely being ranked among the most beautiful campuses in the country by the Princeton Review; but, if you’d still like to get away, there are study abroad opportunities in more than 50 countries, including in Australia, China, Japan, India, throughout Europe, and domestic programs in Washington, D.C, and at the National Institutes of Health. Approximately two-thirds of the student body studies abroad at some point. Only 31% of Colgate students graduate with debt.

20 (tied). Hamilton College

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Hamilton College, in Clinton, New York, has a student body of approximately 1,900 and is ranked 14th among liberal arts schools by U.S. News and World Report. It has also been ranked 12th by the Princeton Review for colleges with the best value. Of the more than 50 majors offered, 5 of the most popular are in the social and natural sciences. ISTJs should appreciate Hamilton’s well-known open curriculum policy, in which students have near complete control over their studies, giving them a unique academic freedom. Its impressive list of alumni – in fields from politics and entertainment, to business and community engagement – has helped place Hamilton in the top 20 nationally for annual giving, and less than 50% of students graduate with debt. There are a number of opportunities to get involved on campus with student clubs and organizations, including Greek Life, a radio station, several student-run publications, and more. There are also study abroad opportunities in 35 countries, including programs in China, France, India and Spain.

20 (tied). Washington University of St. Louis

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Washington University of St. Louis has a student body of approximately 14,000 (split between undergraduate and graduate) and is ranked 15th in the country by U.S. News and World Report. Its 114,000 living alumni include 27 Rhodes Scholars and 25 Nobel laureates (some of whom are only affiliated with the school). The school also ranks 26th in the nation for annual alumni giving, which ISTJs can certainly appreciate. Further of note, 4 of the school’s most popular majors are in the natural and social sciences, which ISTJs tend to gravitate toward. There are more than 300 student organizations and clubs, including fraternities and sororities, a cappella groups, a radio station, and several other media-related activities, among others. For those interested in branching out even further, there are nearly 50 countries in which to study abroad. Only 30% of Wash. U students graduate with any debt.

25. Universiy of Michigan – Ann Arbor

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The Universiy of Michigan in Ann Arbor has a student body over 40,000 and is considered one of the most prestigious public research universities in the world. Its alumni include President Gerald Ford, Arthur Miller, Larry Page, John Robert Beyster, Theodore Roethke, Jack Kevorkian, and many others. UM’s alumni are also ranked in the top 50 nationally for annual giving. Michigan offers 1,400 student organizations and clubs, including several political groups, cause-based groups, numerous engineering teams, community service organizations, intramural sports, fraternities and sororities, 400+ special interest groups, and countless more. With a particular emphasis on STEM field, four of the universities most popular majors are in the social and natural sciences. For those trying to avoid the frigid winters of Ann Arbor, there are 66 countries in which you can study abroad. Also of note: less than 50% of students graduate with any debt.