There are hundreds of small colleges throughout the United States, with student enrollment ranging from only two dozen to as many as 2,000 students. The best small colleges in America offer a quality education in a close-knit community atmosphere, so students searching for colleges do not need to sacrifice academic excellence in order to enjoy the benefits that a small college offers.

Amherst College

Amherst College is a private liberal arts school in suburban Amherst, Massachusetts. The college is classified as one of the "Little Ivies," a group of elite schools in New England with academic standards similar to the Ivy League. Amherst frequently appears near the top of liberal arts college rankings published by U.S. News and World Report, Forbes and other periodicals.

Amherst awards Bachelor of Arts degrees in 35 different majors. In 2009, 1,697 students attended Amherst. According to the administration, the average class size is only 17 students, providing individualized attention at all levels of undergraduate study.

Amherst College P.O. Box 5000 Amherst, MA 01002 413-542-2000 amherst.edu

California Institute of Technology

The California Institute of Technology, informally known as "Caltech," is a private university located in Pasadena, California. The school is particularly famous for its science and engineering research. More than 30 faculty members and alumni have been awarded the Nobel Prize as of 2010.

In the fall of 2009, 951 undergraduates and 1,179 graduate students attended classes at Caltech. Undergraduate degrees are awarded in 24 majors, with many classes providing shared enrollment between undergraduate and postgraduate students.

California Institute of Technology 1200 E. California Blvd. Pasadena, CA 91125 626-395-6811 caltech.edu

Pomona College

Pomona College is a small liberal arts college based in Claremont, California and is part of a larger system of colleges called the Claremont University Consortium. Students can cross-register for more than 2,500 classes in the consortium, in addition to more than 600 classes offered at Pomona College.

Pomona College has a rigorous admissions program: only 15.6 percent of applications were accepted for the Fall 2008 semester. In 2009, approximately 1,500 students attended the college, studying 45 art, humanities and science majors.

In 2010, U.S. News and World Report ranked Pomona as the sixth-best liberal arts college in the country. The college was also the highest-ranked West Coast school on the list (see Reference 6).

Pomona College 333 N. College Way Claremont, CA 91711 909-621-8000 pomona.edu

Swarthmore College

Located in a suburb outside of Philadelphia, Swarthmore College is an independent liberal arts college. The history of the college dates to 1864, when it was established as a Quaker school. The school is now nonsectarian.

Approximately 1,500 students were enrolled at Swarthmore as of 2009. Like other small colleges, Swarthmore has a cooperative agreement in place with other nearby schools. Cross-registration is allowed between schools of the Tri-College Consortium, as well as the University of Pennsylvania.

In 2008, Forbes ranked Swarthmore College as the fourth best college in the country, behind Princeton, Caltech and Harvard.

Swarthmore College 500 College Ave. Swarthmore, PA 19081 610-328-8000