What are your chances of acceptance?

Your chance of acceptance
Duke University
Duke University
Your chancing factors
Unweighted GPA: 3.7
SAT: 720 math
| 800 verbal


Low accuracy (4 of 18 factors)

Why You Should Consider Colleges You’ve Never Heard Of

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As you go through high school and start thinking about which colleges you will want to apply to, it can be very tempting to stick with the familiar. You’ve heard of the Ivy Leagues, a few highly ranked out-of-state colleges, and a few in-state schools that would lessen your cost. That’s already a pretty comprehensive list. Should you make that your college list and call it a day?


Unfortunately, that simple approach will not necessarily give you the highest chance of ending up at the school that is the best fit for you. While you’re evaluating colleges in order to form your college list, you need to do some research and figure out which colleges best align with your requirements and goals. Take into consideration things like geographic location, majors offered, cost of attendance, and other factors so that you can make an informed decision.


While doing your research, you may come across a school you’ve never heard of that looks perfect for you on paper. Should you rule that college out because it doesn’t offer the coveted “brand name” that employers look for? We at CollegeVine recommend applying to colleges regardless of their brand or prestige as long as they seem like a good option for you. Not convinced? Read on to discover many reasons why it’s worth it to consider colleges you’ve never heard of.


The Lesser Known School Might Be Perfect For You

It is tempting to think that you would be able to get along at any college. However, not all colleges are right for every student. In fact, college admissions officers are aware of this and sometimes take that into consideration when making admissions decisions. Thus, it’s important, when considering colleges, to choose one that you think would be a good fit. What does it mean to fit with a college? Check out our previous blog post on the subject.


Some things you may want to consider when deciding whether a college is a good fit for you are:


  • Location: Is a college far enough or close enough from home? Do you like the weather patterns of that geographic region?


  • Size: Some students are comfortable with a large school with thousands of students and some prefer smaller universities with more individualized attention to each student.


  • Majors: Does the college in question have a good academic program in your area of interest? There’s no use in applying to a college where you can’t study what you want to study.


  • Student Life: Is the college known for having a thriving social scene? Is Greek Life popular at the college? Do the students who attend that university seem like people you would get along with?


  • The Campus: Do you think you would enjoy being on that campus every single day? Is it aesthetic? Does it have the resources you need?


Finding a good fit is extremely important when it comes to choosing a college because you are probably going to spend the majority of four years at the university you choose. So if you find a college that isn’t well-known but seems like the perfect fit for you, it’s definitely worth applying to. You may be extremely happy there.

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These Colleges are Often Cheaper

Brand name colleges are often expensive. Colleges know that there is high demand for their college because it is so well-known, so they are able to raise tuition costs if they see fit. Sometimes, these high costs can be a deal breaker for the student who is looking for an affordable college education.


On the other hand, sometimes lesser known colleges have lower tuition and other costs associated with attendance. In many ways, you could be getting a very similar education as someone at a brand-name university for a much cheaper price. If the lesser-known college has good programs that you desire and meets your other criteria, it makes financial sense for you to consider or even attend that college.


Smaller Student Body = A More Personalized Learning Environment

Oftentimes, you’ve never heard of a college because it has a smaller student body than most other colleges. Don’t take this as a strike against the college, though. It may not be that students don’t want to attend that college, but rather the college keeps its student body low so that each student can receive personalized attention and resources from professors, counselors, employers who visit, etc.


In this way, going to a smaller, lesser-known college could be the best decision for your learning. Rather than being thrust onto a giant campus and becoming another face in a sea of students, you could have a more personalized learning environment with less competition and more resources for you to succeed.


Less Competition

In big, popular universities with a giant student body, there’s a lot of pressure to outperform your fellow classmates to get those coveted positions in clubs or those prestigious internships. This can get overwhelming as you suddenly find yourself competing with thousands of highly qualified and accomplished students like yourself instead of a few hundred students from your high school.


In a smaller, lesser-known college, the student body is much smaller, and the resources are more available to you. Therefore, the culture of competition is significantly reduced, and you don’t always feel like you’re competing with everyone on campus. This can take a little bit of the pressure off of your (sometimes overwhelming) college experience.

Brand Name Colleges Only Get You So Far

The common view is that going to a prestigious, well-known college will help you get a good job and help you get a successful career. This is true to a certain extent. The college you go to can go a long way in helping you get that coveted entry-level job right out of college, and it can definitely give you some unique tools and resources that will train you for the professional world. However, once you’ve gotten that entry-level job and have been in the workforce for a few years, the brand name college doesn’t matter as much.


After a while, it will no longer be where you went to college that will define what positions you get in the professional world but your work ethic and accomplishments. This means that a brand name college will only do so much as getting you a great entry-level job. After that, you have to work your way up like the rest of the world.


Thus, if you attend a lesser-known college, that doesn’t mean you won’t have an illustrious career. Hard work and employable skills matter equally as much in the job market.


For More Information

Need more help choosing colleges for your college list? Check out these previous blog posts from CollegeVine:


5 Tips for Building Your First College List

Choosing a College: How To Get Started

7 Tips to Help You Escape Going to the Wrong College

Seven Tips For Creating Your College List


Curious about your chances of acceptance to your dream school? Our free chancing engine takes into account your GPA, test scores, extracurriculars, and other data to predict your odds of acceptance at over 500 colleges across the U.S. We’ll also let you know how you stack up against other applicants and how you can improve your profile. Sign up for your free CollegeVine account today to get started!

Sadhvi Mathur
Senior Blogger

Short Bio
Sadhvi is a recent graduate from the University of California, Berkeley, where she double majored in Economics and Media Studies. Having applied to over 8 universities, each with different application platforms and requirements, she is eager to share her knowledge now that her application process is over. Other than writing, Sadhvi's interests include dancing, playing the piano, and trying not to burn her apartment down when she cooks!