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Midbest's 3 Top Hidden Gems for College

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By Anita Gajula on June, 9 2022 | 10 minute read
Best College Hidden Gems in Midwest

Did you know that there are almost 4,000 colleges and universities across the country?

It’s easy to forget that fact when the same 50-100 schools get the most news and media attention. At Collegewise, we believe that there is a great fit school for every student--- even if you haven’t considered it yet! Each month on the 9th, we’ll be shining a spotlight on 9 colleges and universities that shouldn’t go overlooked in your college search. Why 9? Well, Collegewise was born in 1999 and we wanted to stick with a number that treated us well...we hope you enjoy our reviews! 


Midbest’s Hidden Gems! 

Let’s start with the facts: most of the college-going students in the US come from New York or California and when we talk about American universities, it seems like everyone wants to be in sunny Cali or a beautiful traditional New England campus. I blame all of this on the movies made and the ridiculous media attention on the ivies and the UC’s. However, there’s a HUGE stretch of the country that needs more love – that’s the great Midwest! Ah, you think you know the Midwest schools, like the Big 10 (note there are 14 in that sports conference). There are SO many great schools here that everyone should check out if they like a nice campus with a great sense of community. To top it off, the Midwest is so much more affordable than the coasts and these schools are more likely for admission. 


Carthage College, Kenosha, Wisconsin 

Carthage College is right on the border of Illinois in Wisconsin. It’s the halfway point in the Chicago Milwaukee corridor so it’s easy to get to from most anywhere. Once you step foot on campus, you’ll notice the new shiny buildings and facilities. This college has put lots of good money into building this campus. Best of all, many student dorm rooms have views of Lake Michigan! What a way to rise and shine! 


Look closer and you’ll find great academics in this small, nurturing environment. Carthage is a small liberal arts college that emphasizes interdisciplinary learning and experiential learning. What does this mean? It means you can take time to explore both in and out of the classroom with faculty and staff mentors who support student success. There are about 50 majors and minors on campus. Students here are involved in lots of activities outside the classroom for fun with sports and the performing arts as particularly popular. They also have a kissing rock which was once mostly for a tradition of love for campus couples but is now often the focal point for social justice movements and events on campus. 


Finally, this college is affordable. Once a student is accepted for admission, they are invited to campus for a scholarship day with tests and interviews. It’s a chance to meet other students and prove your academic prowess, especially for late bloomers or anyone who needs a second chance because of a high school performance that doesn’t show their abilities. Check it out and see for yourself! 



Drake University, Des Moines, Iowa 

Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa is a mid-sized school with about 5000 students and lots of top academic programs. This place is known for its great business program and study abroad options. There are 7 colleges here and the law school is one of the oldest in the country. Students can study in over 150 majors and minors with everything from journalism to education to pharmacy. 


When you look past the school to the city of Des Moines, you realize it’s a growing city with tons of big businesses. Did you know that there are more internships openings in Des Moines than the number of students attending? This means Drake students have their pick of internships in the city because there are so many businesses that want these talented students. Many alums, like over 19K they say, stay in the city to work. Drake is often generous with aid which helps put more money in your hands so you can go abroad to study! 


Finally, students here love the Drake Relays which is a weeklong track and field event that brings in top athletes from all over the country. It’s a special set of traditions which also involves street painting where some of the paint may end up on your fellow artists! All the traditions and great academics foster a certain kind of Drake pride that is contagious. 



The University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, Minnesota 

The University of Minnesota is in the middle of the twin cities of Minneapolis and Saint Paul. Saint Paul is the capital and known as the home of the Mall of America, a great airport, fabulous theater, and lots of cultural events. Minneapolis is more of the young party scene with concerts, a vibrant art scene, and sports! Downtown Minneapolis features lots of walkways between buildings so that people don’t have to be exposed to the winter weather. However, if you ever live in Minnesota, you’ll know that the winters feature LOTS of sun and some great winter sports. Finally, those Minnesotans really take advantage of the long summer days with lots of outdoor festivals and traditions. 


Wait, we’re supposed to be talking about college life…oops! The University of Minnesota is part of the Big 10 conference and started as a public land grant institution. It’s now a Research 1 institution known for its great business program at the Carlson school. As the 9th largest state institution in the country with over 50K students, it has a wide variety of strong programs from acting to STEM and law. Outside of class, you can find students hanging out in nearby Dinkytown which boasts of great meals at affordable prices and at sporting events with fellow Gophers. At the end of the day, if you love popular places like the University of Michigan or the University of Wisconsin, look at Minnesota too. It’s a nice alternative to those schools that still has those great Midwest vibes! 



Check out our 6 other college recommendations in June 9 on 9 series:

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