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Check out small colleges!

Check out small colleges!

Check out small colleges!Check out small colleges!

WHY STUDENTS SHOULD CONSIDER ATTENDING SMALL COLLEGES (note: site loads slowly.  We appreciate your patience)

the "small college guy's" top 50


my top 50 small colleges with reasonable pricing and flexible admission criteria.

my top 50. listed by state, and within state alphabetically

Trinity Washington University, DC     Goldey-Beacom College DE     Graceland  University IA     William Penn University IA     Aurora University IL     Blackburn   College IL     Concordia-River Forest IL     Illinois College IL     Lincoln College IL     Monmouth College IL     National-Louis University IL     Principia College IL     U of Illinois at Springfield IL     Indiana University--Kokomo IN     Manchester University IN   Oakland City University IN     Newman University KS     Thomas More University KY     University of Pikeville KY     Eastern Nazarene University MA     Mass. College of Liberal Arts MA     Husson University ME     Grace Christian MI     Lake Superior State University MI     Madonna University MI     Rochester University MI   Bethany Lutheran College MN     University of MN--Crookston MN     Ozark Christian College MO     Ranken Technical College MO     Shaw University NC     Minot State University ND     Valley City State University ND     Felician University NJ     Cazenovia College NY     Dominican College of Blauvelt NY     University of Northwestern OH OH     Ursuline   College OH     Wilberforce University OH     Harrisburg University PA     Coker University SC     Lander University SC     Christian Brothers University TN     Mary Baldwin University VA     Alverno College WI     Beloit College WI     Cardinal Stritch University WI     Mount Mary University WI     Northland College WI     University of   Wisc--Superior WI  

Notes:  Average enrollment = 1,450 undergrads.   Average "sticker price" for tuition, room, board, and fees = $34,623    Average "actual" out of pocket cost (without loans or work-study) = $16,051 [$12,636 for low income (less than $75,000 family income) students; $23,133 for families with above $100,000 income]  36 of the 50 do not charge and application fee.  28 of the 50 are test-optional.



cool virtual tours of small colleges (more to come)

Monmouth College (Monmouth, IL): Drone Tour:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JCnSVhhgRFY  and Campus Tour:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SlDRYxL3l7A 


Saint Ambrose College (Davenport, IA) Online Campus Tour:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=amUxdV0mT4I 

Augustana College (Rock Island, IL):  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gI88SgxKN4s  

Flagler College (Saint Augustine, FL)  https://www.flagler.edu/admissions--aid/visit-flagler/take-a-virtual-tour/  

Woodbury University (Burbank, CA)  https://www.virtually-anywhere.net/tours/woodbury/vtour/index.html  


Northland College (Ashland, WI) Virtual Tour: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCAeVqEUtXVjNiYoxkteoAAg 

Illinois College (Jacksonville, IL) Virtual Tour: https://www.ic.edu/admission/virtual-tour 

Bethany Lutheran College (Mankato, MN) Virtual Tour: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=89veY2Xa_Go 


Central College (Pella, IA) Online Campus Tour:


  Elmhurst College (Elmhurst, IL) Online Video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5b6icFTReDcand Virtual Tour: https://www.youvisit.com/tour/elmhurst 


Why Small?

(Above photo is the top of Wallace Hall, Monmouth College, Monmouth IL)

Note from the editor of this site:  In the United States, there are over 700 colleges with less than 3K (3000) students.  Many of these colleges are totally overlooked in the college search process.    This website is devoted to these wonderful small colleges that totally transform the lives of their graduates.  I recently retired from 42 years in the College Admission profession.  All 42 years were at small, private, colleges.   

How to use the blog section: This is a different "kind" of blog.  It is meant to be "scrolled through" (using the left and right arrows) to learn about some of the unique programs, majors, and organizations you can find at small  colleges.    I will be adding more and more every day (including some "guest" contributions).  There are a LOT of entries, so if you are looking for a particular one...check out the INDEX section below the blog.

If anyone wants to ask me questions or hire me to do some independent "college counseling" (in the western suburbs of Chicago), just email me at vpeterpitts@gmail.com

V. Peter Pitts, M.A.

U3K4College Counseling

Twitter: @MonmouthPPitts

Aurora, IL

Note: This blog is completely "research-based."  The accuracy of facts and statistics (especially costs) are unofficial, and only as accurate as information that I was able to find online at the time of the blog posting.   Please make sure to contact the colleges directly to obtain up-to-date official and accurate  information.


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Blog Entry Index

Blog Index (xlsx)




my musings about money



MONEY MONEY MONEY: The elephant in the room

Q: Why does a dog bite its own tail?

A: Because they can

Why do “highly ranked” small colleges charge so much? Because they can.

Why do “not so highly ranked but still very good” mid-range small colleges still have a hefty price tag? Because, in American, perception=reality and high cost=high perceived value. Everyone wants bragging rights about their children.

Let me explain.

It is all about economics, really. Supply and demand. If a college is highly ranked, more students apply for admission and a smaller percentage are admitted and enrolled. There are waitlists. People WANT the college more than the college actually WANTS or NEEDS them. So…people will pay. These schools have large piggy-banks (endowments), so they will give a lot of need-based gift financial aid (without any loan money in the package) to lower income students (this is how low income but high-academic-achieving can afford to go to Ivy and other “prestige” schools without paying anything at all out of pocket). However, once the family income rises to a certain level, most of these highly ranked schools do not (and do not need to) give any gift aid at all.

As the costs of these highly ranked colleges increase, the “other” colleges have a choice to make: keep their costs low without giving a lot of scholarship/grant money to entice students….OR increase the “listed price” but offer incentives to lower the price. Most of them, purely because of competition within the college market, raise their prices but give huge amounts of scholarships and grants to entice people to come. They do not want to be “perceived” as being lesser in value than the “prestige” schools.

These are good colleges. They give a great education. However these colleges NEED and WANT the student…more than the student wants or needs the college. They admit a higher percentage of applicants, they seldom have wait-lists, and quite often they are still admitting students even after the May 1 “decision date.” They also, from time to time, will “price-match” other colleges by adjusting their aid awards.

If a college leaves their price tag low…they are perceived (incorrectly of course) as being worth less…and perhaps even perceived as being “desperate” or in severe financial distress.

What does this lead to? Lots of confusion, and lots of competition among about 600 of the 700 small private colleges in the Nation.

Let’s say you are a parent of a very bright student who could attend any college (academically) that they would like to. #1 in their class. 1600 SAT. 36 ACT. And let’s say your income is $400,000 and your EFC (Estimated Family Contribution as calculated by the FAFSA) is above 70,000. What are your choices?

A.  Prestige/Ivy type school for $70,000/year (and you get no gift aid at all)

B.  Mid-Range school that has a list price of $48,000 but offers a $27,000/year scholarship the day your kid is admitted (net price = $21,000)

C.  Mid-Range school that has a sticker price of $21,000/year (and you get no gift aid at all).

From a “bragging rights” perspective (so you can wear that T-Shirt that says “my son attends XYZPrestigeschool) you can choose “A”

From a “bragging rights” perspective (so you can tell your friends that “my son was admitted to XYZPrestigeschool but chose to attend ABCMidRange school on a HUGE scholarship”) you can choose “B”

From a “pragmatic” perspective (so you can tell your friends that “my son was admitted to XYZPrestigeschool but chose to attend ABCMidRange school which offered us a great financial opportunity”) you can choose “C”

Mid-range colleges usually tend to pick “B” and use scholarships and grants to “entice” people to attend. The reason they usually do not “just reduce their price” is because they do not want to be perceived as either desperate or cheap.


I hope for a day when all colleges get together and adjust their prices back to what they really are. I would like to see all 600 or so mid-range colleges do what Greensboro College (NC) is doing: Check out this article:


Unfortunately, this is about as likely as finding proof of Big Foot, the Loch Ness Monster, and UFO’s on the same day….but a guy can  always remain hopeful, right?


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Text or email me to set up a free introductory conversation at a local coffee shop


Aurora/Batavia IL

(630) 210-5774 (text only)

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