Apparently colleges in the Midwest don't get much love, according to Marketplace. And that's a darn shame.
That's why I want to shine a light on the heartland as a college destination, especially for coastal kids who think Midwestern education begins and ends with Ohio State, Michigan, and Notre Dame.
The best schools you've never heard of
In my years of editing college profiles, I’ve actually collected a number of Midwestern favorites. Schools that gave me a serious case of the “what ifs” as I discovered them.
Of course, I can’t share my list because of that whole journalistic integrity thing. But I will say the school featured in the Marketplace story linked above, Gustavus Adolphus College, has been on my radar for a long time. It’s a small liberal arts school in St. Peter, Minnesota, and I still remember reading about it for the first time: I thought it sounded incredible, the kind of school I could’ve been very happy at as an undergrad—and I couldn't believe that I had never, ever heard of it.
I bet a bunch of other people hadn’t heard of it either until they listened to that Marketplace story. But good ol' Gustavus is just the tip of the iceberg.
Chicago: such a pretty city
So many college and university options
When we talk about colleges and universities in the center of the country, I feel like the big, well-known state schools dominate the conversation. Not that they don’t deserve attention—they’re great schools. But they’re not the only ones!
There are tons of Midwestern colleges and universities out there with extraordinary educational and career opportunities, amazing reputations, and unique campus personalities. As we always say: don’t limit your college search only to schools you recognize. Make a list of what you want and search for schools that meet your criteria with keep an open mind.
Remember, by casting a wide net in your college search, you’ll only increase your likelihood of finding the right school for you. So give the Midwest a fair shot. Not only might you find the perfect college for you, but it sounds like Midwestern schools are also interested in bumping up their geographic diversity. So you may be a more desirable candidate if you’re coming from far away. And admission counselors do consider that, both in granting admission and awarding financial aid. Just sayin'.
Yes, there's prairie land, and it's lovely
What's so special about the Midwest?
Now, you might be thinking, "I’m all about keeping an open mind in my college search, but what makes the Midwest so great?"
Well, besides having some of the most breathtaking landscapes around (have you seen the Great Lakes? The plains? All those amazing National Parks?!?!), it’s actually a great time to live—and start a career—in the Midwest.
Many Midwestern areas like Oklahoma City, Omaha, Kansas City, and Madison have seen impressive growth and economic stability in the past decade or so, with high quality of life and low costs of living. There are plenty of tech hubs too, like Indianapolis, Indiana; Columbus, Ohio; and Detroit, Michigan. And towns big and small throughout the region have been recognized among the best places to live in the country, according to sources like TIME, CNN Money, Businessweek, and more.
Snowy park in St. Paul, Minnesota (reminds me of Boston!)
So do yourself a favor and investigate the colleges and universities throughout the Midwest. It won’t take long to fall in love with the area, trust me. I'm a born-and-raised New England girl, and now I totally want to move to the Twin Cities... Or maybe Omaha... Or Milwaukee... Or...
Want to give a shout-out to a Midwestern college or university? Leave a comment!