Readers React!

Daily Beast Readers Offer More Overlooked Colleges & Programs (PHOTOS)

Hundreds of readers wrote in to nominate an outstanding post-secondary school. See the results.

Don Hamerman

Don Hamerman

Don Hamerman

When we released our list of overlooked colleges earlier this week, we invited our readers to tell us which schools we missed and explain why they deserve recognition.

The result was incredible—nearly 650 responses in just two days. Some used the opportunity to show their school spirit en masse (looking at you, Morehead State University!), while others were suggested with a single, exceptional idea. Our editors sifted through all the submissions to highlight dozens of additional underrated colleges.

Morehead State University

Morehead State University, Morehead, Kentucky

Nominated for: Everything!

If we didn’t know how the Internet works, we might assume half of The Daily Beast’s readership lives in Morehead, Kentucky. That’s because of the 650-some responses we received, 80 were on behalf of Morehead State University—the secondmost nominated school to appear in our poll. According to its fans, Morehead has a long list of great aspects, including affordable tuition, meal plan, outstanding professors, amazing advisers, class size, at-home feel, wellness center, campus safety, graduate programs, music program, space-science program, nursing program, pre-med program, social-work program, biology program and…”everything!”

Tom Pidgeon/AP

Kettering University, Flint, Michigan

Nominated for: Co-op Program

Kettering was the No. 1 most mentioned school among voters. One hundred and seven ballots were cast for Kettering—and each one mentioned its work-study program. Wrote Kaitlin Solovey of Flint, Michigan: “The co-op program at Kettering allows students to work in their industry of choice for 6 months out of every year that they’re in school, adding up to at least 2 full years of job experience. Co-op students don’t just get coffee, either. They design parts, engines, websites, and do everything that normal employees do.”

Western Governors University

Western Governors University

Salt Lake City

Nominated for: Competency-Based Curriculum

The final school deserving of an honorable mention in the massive response category is WGU. With about 5 percent of the votes, WGU was most touted for its competency-focused curriculum. “WGU’s Competency Based Learning model allows its students to learn at their own pace, on their own time—and allows them to actually master their program before graduation. It does not require hours of sitting in class—it requires active participation and active learning!” writes Stephanie of Montana.

Erin Pence/Wittenberg University

Wittenberg University

Springfield, Ohio

Nominated for: Undergraduate Curiousity

“The two years I spent teaching at Wittenberg were the most rewarding of my career (and I’ve taught in the Ivies). The students in Springfield are so intellectually curious, so committed to learning—and all because they genuinely ENJOY being educated. They should be pleased: Wittenberg students are educated by some of the best and most engaging faculty you could find anywhere. And the students are smart: they ask questions, they ask for additional reading, they learn in a seemingly osmotic way. I would send my college-aged children to Wittenberg in a heartbeat (and shhhh: both I and most of my family went to Harvard),” writes Cynthia Schossberger of Newport, R.I.


Warren Wilson College

Ashville, North Carolina

Nominated for: Work-Centered Curriculum

“Students are required to participate in the work of this environmentally based college. The work is part of your education. I think it is [a] college that teaches the whole student,” writes Vickey Monrean, Black Mountain, North Carolina.

Seth Wenig/AP

U.S. Merchant Marine Academy

Kings Point, New York

Nominated for: Job Skills

“Graduates from this little-known federal military academy have the unique option of working in the civilian world with only a 5-year Reserve commitment after graduation. With free tuition, room, and board, the school sees de facto 100% employment for the approximately 275 students it graduates each year … And don’t forget ‘Sea Year’ for a chance to see the world before you graduate!” writes Kris Meyer of Norman, Oklahoma.

Shane Opatz/University of Wisconsin-Stout

University of Wisconsin-Stout

Menomonie, Wisconsin

Nominated for: Bachelor of Science in Packaging

The “program is a mix between Mechanical Engineering and Industrial Design, [with] special courses specific to the Packaging field itself. Graduates of the program start earning a competitive engineering salary and have many career choices and work avenues from cosmetic to medical devices to consumer electronics, to name a few,” writes Maggie Turner of Menomonie, Wisconsin.


The University of Texas at El Paso

El Paso, Texas

Nominated for: Journalism Program

A “cutting-edge multimedia journalism program where students write and produce multimedia for a bilingual web news magazine called It’s five years old and getting stronger with student participation from all over the U.S. and Mexico. And special award-winning international reporting projects. Last year we won an award for digital journalism from the Online News Association,” writes Zita Arocha of El Paso, Texas.

Philip James Corwin/Corbis

University of San Francisco

San Francisco

Nominated for: Student Diversity

“This university was diverse long before it became de rigueur! Even His Holiness, the Dalai Lama, has received an honorary doctorate (2003) in recognition of the university’s multiculturalism,” writes Wendy Hedrick of Northern California.

David Duprey/AP

University of Rochester

Rochester, New York

Nominated for: Take Five [Scholars Program], which allows accepted students to enroll for an additional semester or year, tuition-free.

“You can double-major in chemical engineering and trombone, then take a fifth year for free taking those psych, history, or English courses you missed!” writes H. Miller of New York City.

Nati Harnik/AP

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Lincoln, Nebraska

Nominated for: UCARE, a two-year research program funded by Pepsi

There’s an “undergraduate research program in which students are paid to work in research with a professor for a year and then can receive funding to do their own project under the direction of their faculty mentor during a second year. Also, there is no place like Nebraska!” writes Daniel of Houston.

Wesley Hitt/Getty

The University of Mississippi

University, Mississippi

Nominated for: The Center for Manufacturing Excellence

“Ole Miss has a great program to train students to be leaders in U.S. manufacturing. There is a beautiful new building, with state of-the-art classrooms and study areas, featuring a complete factory floor and two engineering techs whose job is to help students manufacture…Students major in engineering but take accounting, management, marketing, and finance and graduate ready to take on a role in U.S. manufacturing,” writes Jennifer Gassman of Shaker Heights, Ohio.

University of Hawaii at Hilo

Hilo, Hawaii

Nominated for: Hawaiian Studies Program

“The Hawaiian Studies program is the only degree offered in the U.S. for the study of a native people. The marine-biology study includes scuba and hands-on experience rarely available elsewhere in the U.S. There is also a strong performing-arts program, and a melting-pot student population with students from around the world coming together in this wet and wonderful tropical island,” writes Robert Hunt of Hilo, Hawaii.

Janet Knott/The Boston Globe via Getty

Tufts University

Medford, Massachusetts

Nominated for: Tufts Emergency Medical Service

“At Tufts we have a fully student-run EMT service, which runs 24/7. We put a lot of work into it, and we have our own ambulance. Members spend around 12 to 30 hours on call each week, and we respond to any 911 call on campus and in our surrounding service area,” writes Paul Pemberton of Medford, Masschusetts.

PRNewsFoto/The College of Wooster via AP

College of Wooster

Wooster, Ohio

Nominated for: Independent Study Program

“Every student at Wooster participates in IS, the Independent Study program. It’s not an honors program, but rather one for each and every student, which gives them the opportunity to work one on one with a faculty adviser in the department of their major. Their projects can be on any topic of their choosing and it’s ungraded; the idea is to learn while working on one’s own and pursue one’s passion. Wooster is all about education for the sake of education, not about competition,” writes Casey Henderson of Oakland.

Will Powers/AP

Colorado College

Colorado Springs, Colorado

Nominated for: Block Plan curriculum (one class at a time)

“For over four decades CC students have studied in blocks—three and 1/2 weeks of a single class. It can be hard and it’s always intense. But if it fits your learning style, it is an awesome way to learn. For geology students, it means the chance to study in the field, sometimes for weeks at a time. Language students talk often of dreaming in their foreign language. Everyone agrees that it is wonderful not to have to juggle multiple classes and exams,” writes Carol Peterson of Divide, Colorado.

Christopher Lenney/AP

St. Lawrence University

Canton, New  York

Nominated for: Party School, Frigid Edition

“The temperature often hits close to -30 in the winter, but that doesn’t stop St. Lawrence students from braving the cold to party. With about 2,400 students and a robust Greek/athletic party scene, SLU students make the most of their environment. They have a party at a ski resort in the winter that buses students to ski and tube,” writes Patrick Brady of New York City.

via Wikimedia Commons

Simpson College

Indianola, Iowa

Nominated for: Music Department

“Undergraduate students have untold opportunities to learn and perform in fully staged operas, participate in exceptional ensembles, and study directly with some of the most talented and loving teachers. Simpson is producing talented and disciplined musicians and teachers with its rigorous but rewarding programs,” writes Eva DePue of North Carolina.

Don Hamerman

Sewanee: The University of the South

Sewanee, Tennessee

Nominated for: Unique Traditions

“At Sewanee, we have the unique tradition of awarding academic gowns to our students on the merits of their academic achievement. Being ‘gowned’ is a great honor—students wear their gowns to class and have benefits in student life (first choice of classes! first choice of dorm rooms!) by being gowned. It’s an old tradition inherited from our Oxford roots that gives this sleepy Southern town a little bit of a British accent,” writes Maria Stratienko of Sewanee, Tennessee.

Ted S. Warren/AP

Seattle University


Nominated for: Sustainable Living

“SU has a zero waste program in place, in which students are encouraged to recycle and compost waste. Because of its social-justice mission, bottled water is no longer sold because (a) water should be free and (b) the plastic bottles are a hazard to the environment. Finally, the campus cafeteria is award-winning in its use of local, antibiotic, free-range food choices. (And it’s delicious),” writes Beth Slattery of Seattle.

Mel Evans/AP

Rider University

Lawrenceville, New Jersey

Nominated for: Personal attention (and lack of teaching assistants)

“Classes are small and all undergraduate students get to interact with professors who are skilled in their fields,” writes Joanne Korte of Lawrenceville, New Jersey.

Wikimedia Commons

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Troy, New York

Nominated for: Greek Community

“While known for its top-tier engineering programs, what most people don’t know about RPI is its Greek community … A lot of students choose to pursue their engineering degrees at larger state universities because RPI may not be the ‘ideal’ college experience, what with all the nerds, but joining a Greek chapter enhances what RPI has to offer … Greeks are the leaders on this campus, 3 of the last 4 Grand Marshals have been fraternity members,” writes Anonymous.

Ann Johansson/AP

Pepperdine University

Malibu, California

Nominated for: Study Abroad Programs

“Pepperdine University has six incredible, yearlong abroad programs. Each program is owned and operated by the university. Over 70 percent of the sophomore class attends one of these programs yearly,” writes Anonymous.

V. Craig Sands

Park University

Parkville, Missouri

Nominated for: Success for Veterans Program

“Park University launched the Success for Veterans Program to provide a smooth and comprehensive transition to college for veteran students returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, some of whom are dealing with physical and psychological trauma. The program consists of five online transition courses. The veteran faculty members teaching these courses are academically and culturally prepared to provide high-quality services for veteran students. What makes this program so special is that credits earned can be transferred to other universities, and Park encourages veteran students to select a permanent academic home that best fits their educational and personal needs,” writes Erik Bergrud of Kansas City, Missouri.

Reed Saxon/AP

Occidental College

Los Angeles

Nominated for: Community Interaction

“Occidental is the only liberal-arts school in Los Angeles … and it takes advantage of this position by hosting numerous departments that require L.A.-based internships for graduation, a thriving interactive culture with L.A. artists and food trucks … a legitimate office devoted to community engagement, a Greek community … a pre-orientation program that offers myriad trips all focused around Los Angeles (phew, who read this far?) and best of all, they try to make it easy to access it all with Zipcars, Bengal Buses (how cute), and a thriving student digest. Tiny school. Big city. It works,” writes Alex of Los Angeles.

Elise Amendola/AP

Northeastern University


Nominated for: Co-op Program

“Northeastern students have the opportunity to go on as many a three co-ops during their four or (often) five years at the university. Co-ops are six-month periods in which a student doesn’t take classes at the university, but instead completes work related to their major as a full-time employee of a company or organization. Students can co-op locally in Boston, elsewhere in the United States, or even, and increasingly, internationally. This provides students invaluable experience working in their field of interest and can result in up to a year and a half of work experience by the time the student graduates,” writes Lina Lopez of Boston.

Steve Babuljak

Mills College


Nominated for: Girl Power

“While famous for its dance and music programs, Mills’s all-girl undergrads get the kind of support the ‘girl power’ pop culture pays lip service to. The small class sizes mean that the teachers are accessible and hands-on. I never worked harder or felt more accomplished ... Math and science students flourish. Don’t worry, Berkeley is close by, so there are plenty of boys to distract the girls when you’re not in class,” writes Autumn Doerr of Pasadena, California.

Gail Burton/AP

Goucher College


Nominated for: Study Abroad Program

“Each student must spend a year abroad (away from campus … can be in the U.S.) studying, as an intern, doing research. The proximity to the Baltimore and Washington, D.C., cultural and academic offerings is excellent. The professor/student ratio has always been a plus. The campus is lovely and within walking distance all that Towson has to offer,” writes Lynn K. Gaines of Pacific Palisades, California.

David L Ryan/The Boston Globe via Getty

Emmanuel College


Nominated for: Location

“The location of Emmanuel College is minutes from Fenway Park, Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts, and the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. Unlike most urban schools, there is a confined campus with green space. It is a rare mix of a liberal-arts education, city life, and a compact community,” writes Keely Ward of Boston.

Kim Walker/Elon University

Elon University

Elon, North Carolina

Nominated for: Study Abroad

“Elon boasts that 70 percent plus of its students take a study-abroad program, and the school works hard to give every student an opportunity to do so. Its three-week winter term is an ideal way for students to test themselves with an overseas program before committing to a full semester,” writes Harley Mayersohn of Boston.

Cardoni/Drew University

Drew University

Madison, New Jersey

Nominated for: Experiential Learning

“Drew has spent the last decade or more focusing on applying the liberal arts to real-world work. It has full-semester programs on Wall Street, in the U.N., and in the art world in N.Y. Most importantly 95 percent of the 2012 class is employed or in graduate school,” writes Judith E. Campbell.

Bill Goehring/Dakota State University

Dakota State University

Madison, South Dakota

Nominated for: Cyber Operations Curriculum

“Computer and information-technology skills give all DSU students an advantage, which is why, year after year, over 90 percent of our grads find jobs, with 100 percent placement in some areas. And DSU is affordable, too!” writes Ethelle Bean.

Colorado School of Mines

Colorado School of Mines

Golden, Colorado

Nominated for: Job Skills

Students are “almost guaranteed a job at the end of four years with an average starting salary of around $70,000. It is a tough grind academically for a student but a great payoff at the end of four years,” writes Richard Doran of Denver.

Robert F. Bukaty/AP

Colby College

Waterville, Maine

Nominated for: Art Museum

“An outstanding art museum [with an] emphasis on American art, with the new Lunder Collection (in excess of 500 works) opening in a new pavilion this summer. Close to 300 works by James McNeill Whistler (over 250 prints, several oils and watercolors) … over 800 works by New York/Maine artist Alex Katz (with a wing devoted to rotating shows of his work) … impressive contemporary collection with works by Sol LeWitt, Richard Serra (over 150 works on paper promised), David Smith and others … all in central Maine!” writes Duncan of Cummaquid, Massachusetts.

Courtesy of Clark University

Clark University

Worcester, Massachusetts

Nominated for: Psychology and Geography Departments

“The psych and geography departments are among the best in the country. It has an APA-approved clinical-psych program, [which is] unusual for a small university. Clark’s been around a long time. Freud gave his only lectures there. Just an anecdote, not a benefit,” writes Thomas Norris of Lake Worth, Florida.

Blackburn College

Carlinville, Illinois

Nominated for: Work Program

“Blackburn College is a small, liberal-arts college in Central Illinois (roughly 700 students). All the students participate in the student work program. Through all the students having to work 10 hours a week, at an assigned job, the cost of tuition is reduced. The college teaches time-management skills and prepares students for the real world, while still receiving a quality education. The school may be small, but the education does not lack,” writes Nicole of Gurnee, Illinois.

Jason Jones

Austin College

Sherman, Texas

Nominated for: Leadership Development

“Whether it is the Posey Leadership Institute, the award-winning Model U.N. team, the Student Assembly, or any of the other student-led organizations on campus, leadership is at the heart of campus. While being a tight-knit community, individuals are given the opportunity to shine by having their research published, their innovations funded by a Student Sustainability Fund, and their skills sharpened by regular educational lectures, trainings, and programs,” writes Alexander Clark of Sherman, Texas.

Jeff Watts/American University

American University

Washington, D.C.

Nominated for: School of Communication

“American University’s School of Communication is entrepreneurial and innovative. The school was already highly regarded for its experienced faculty, but it recently went a step further by launching the new Master’s in Media Entrepreneurship program, which combines business with an entrepreneurial focus and media,” writes Shannan Bowen of Washington, D.C.

Shauna Bittle/Evergreen State College

The Evergreen State College

Olympia, Washington

Nominated for: Curriculum

“The curriculum is unique in that it stresses concentrated studies in interrelated fields. You only take a single subject at a time, although that single subject may contain a number of related subjects surrounding that central idea,” writes Justin Dick of Olympia, Washington.

via Wikimedia Commons

Agnes Scott College

Decatur, Georgia

Nominated for: Student Research

“Over 80 percent of undergraduates at this women’s college in Atlanta complete a research project as part of their undergraduate degree. Great location, great undergraduate education. And your list of overlooked colleges does not include any women’s colleges (yet!),” writes Chris De Pree of Decatur, Georgia.