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A Former Admissions Officer’s Hidden Gem Colleges, Part 2

IvyWise On-Demand: How to Build Your College List and Find Hidden Gems

It can be a daunting process for students to identify the 12-15 best-fit schools for their college list. IvyWise college admissions counselors Nat and Tasha explain how students should consider their interests, goals, and preferences to begin the college search process.


By Robin, IvyWise College Admissions Counselor

One of the things I enjoy the most about being a college counselor is learning about the many unique colleges and universities that make up the nearly 3,000 bachelor’s degree-granting institutions in the U.S. At IvyWise, we always emphasize the importance of having a balanced list of colleges, and we encourage students to look beyond the “brand-name” schools. Keeping an open mind when it comes to building your college list can often lead to uncovering hidden gems that offer an incredible range of academic programs and social opportunities for students. There are many hidden gems across the U.S., including these four.

DePauw University: Greencastle, Indiana

Located in the West Central region of Indiana, DePauw University is one of several liberal arts colleges located in the Midwest. With approximately 1,800 undergraduates, DePauw offers an impressive array of academic programs that allow students to explore various areas of interest. Of note is DePauw’s 5-year dual degree program that offers students the opportunity to earn a Bachelor of Music and a B.A. in another discipline. Regardless of major, students can apply for the Management Fellows Program and amplify their business, entrepreneurship, and leadership knowledge through internships, consulting projects, and networking events.

Students interested in filmmaking can apply to be part of the Media Fellows Program to gain hands-on experience in journalism, digital media production, and filmmaking. The Honor Scholar Program provides students with opportunities for more advanced coursework and research guided by a faculty mentor. Additionally, students can partake in Winter Term or May Term, which are immersive experiential learning opportunities where students engage in service projects or internships in the U.S. or abroad in locations like Italy, Peru, Japan, and South Africa.

Goucher College: Towson, Maryland

Located in a northern suburb of Baltimore, Goucher College is home to approximately 1,100 undergraduates. The Athenaeum — a library, art gallery, café, radio station, and event space, among other things — is a focal point on campus and serves as an intellectual and social hub for students. Goucher is committed to providing students the opportunity to explore their academic interests, no matter how varied those may be, and the Commons Curriculum allows for that academic freedom.

Through Individualized Interdisciplinary Majors, students are free to stretch their intellectual curiosity across diverse fields of study. Examples of such majors include theatre for social change and narrative design. In their senior year, students “connect their learning to the bigger picture of life” by completing a capstone project, which is presented at a student symposium. Goucher is also unique in its requirement that all students must study abroad, emphasizing its commitment to global education and cultural understanding.

Lewis & Clark College: Portland, Oregon

Amidst the backdrop of Mt. Hood, Lewis & Clark College immerses its 2,200 undergraduate students in beautiful natural scenery as they explore their academic interests. Its location makes it an ideal place to explore environmental studies, one of the college’s most popular academic programs. Equally strong is Lewis and Clark’s international affairs program, which allows students to organize the annual International Affairs Symposium and conduct collaborative research with faculty. Lewis & Clark also offers a 5-year B.A. and master’s degree in teaching as well as a 6-year B.A. and Juris Doctor from its law school.

Lewis & Clark’s location in the Pacific Northwest means that students can also enjoy a variety of outdoor adventures. The College Outdoors program offers trips and courses for students to enjoy kayaking, hiking, backpacking, rafting, foraging, snowshoeing, and other outdoor activities. College Outdoors also offers Wilderness First Responder training and leadership opportunities.

Oglethorpe University: Atlanta, Georgia

Located in the Brookhaven suburb of Atlanta, Oglethorpe University’s predominant Gothic style architecture is quite eye-catching. With well-established programs like the President’s Emerging Leaders Program, Oglethorpe is committed to providing its nearly 1,500 students with hands-on mentorship experience to ensure they become effective leaders who impart positive change in the world. Popular majors include business administration, psychology, biology, and communication. There is also a well-established theatre major and a unique minor in Shakespeare and Renaissance Studies. The expansive allied health pre-professional advising program offers academic support for students who are pre-med, pre-pharmacy, pre-dentistry, and pre-physical therapy.

The entire campus comes together on Oglethorpe Day in February for the Petrels of Fire event. This annual tradition entails a select group of students racing around the quad in hopes of finishing before the carillon bells’ final chime — this race has only been won once!

Of course, these are just a few of the many hidden gem colleges and universities across the U.S. It can be overwhelming to narrow down your choices, but IvyWise college admissions counselors are experts at helping students find their best-fit schools. Schedule an Initial Consultation to learn more.

Read the first article in this series by IvyWise college admissions counselor Christine.

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