1. Harvard College
At the undergraduate level, Harvard is a name on the tip of everyone's tongue when they need to reference a prestigious school. Harvard may have a storied history, but competitive admissions and an even more competitive student body leads to an academic culture that's more concerned with getting good grades than it is with intellectually driven scholarly inquiry.
2. Princeton University
Princeton has a reputation for privilege-driven snobbery - made clear when the son of California gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman drew national attention for his spoiled-brat behavior over a rugby field. This kind of behavior certainly isn't representative of the average Princeton student, but it's not hard to imagine this kind of entitlement coming from a member of that institution.
3. University of Notre Dame
Notre Dame may have a storied football team, but that doesn't make it a great place for students. The school drew negative press in 2010 for its abysmal handling of a student rape case. In addition, the school was ranked #5 among the most LGBT-unfriendly schools in the U.S., according to the Princeton Review.
4. Pennsylvania State University
Recent controversy aside, Penn State is a big school with a big reputation, but not as an academic powerhouse. According to the Princeton Review, the school was ranked #1 in the Lots of Beer category and #9 in the Party Schools category as of 2014. In addition, the school was ranked #1 in the Financial Aid Not So Great category, so you might not benefit from strong financial aid opportunities if you attend.
5. Dartmouth College
Dartmouth is another old Ivy League university with a list of accolades as long as its history. But would you really want to live there for four years? Located in tiny Hanover, N.H., there's not much life outside of the school for Dartmouth students.
6. Florida State University
Like many state schools, Florida State has some good graduate programs that lend an air of academic prestige to the entire school. However, undergrads shouldn't enroll in FSU expecting to be immersed in a culture of studiousness. The school describes itself as sports-oriented before mentioning anything about academics, according to the Princeton Review.
7. University of Connecticut
New England may be home to several of the world's most storied universities, including the majority of the Ivy League schools, but that doesn't make every school in that region worth your time. UConn is more of a haven for sports fans than serious students. In addition, the school was ranked #9 in the Professors Get Low Marks category by the Princeton Review as of 2014.
8. University of Georgia
The State of Georgia has a strong scholarship program that offers generous awards to qualified students attending in-state schools. UGA's reputation may have received a boost as more college-bound students decided to stay in-state, making admissions to this party school more competitive than they probably should be.
Find schools that offer these popular programs
- Biological and Biomedical Sciences
- Communications and Journalism
- Computer Sciences
- Culinary Arts and Personal Services
- Liberal Arts and Humanities
- Mechanic and Repair Technologies
- Medical and Health Professions
- Physical Sciences
- Transportation and Distribution
- Visual and Performing Arts
9. Brigham Young University
We're not out to criticize anyone's religious beliefs. BYU is a great school for Mormon students, but few others are likely to find a welcoming environment at the school that is, according to the Princeton Review, 'all about putting religion and education together.' The proof is in the pudding: Brigham Young University scored #6 on the Princeton Review's list of universities that are Most LGBT-Unfriendly.
10. New York University
Situated smack-dab in the middle of New York City, many NYU students enjoy the school's urban location. However, the school is ranked #5 in the Princeton Review's Financial Aid Not So Great category and #5 in the Administrators Get Low Marks category.
11. Auburn University
As a state, Alabama isn't widely known as a bastion of scholarly inquiry, and Auburn University is no exception. Students at this university are typically more concerned with the football team than they are with their own academic performance. In addition, liberal-minded students should be wary; the Princeton Review ranked this school's student body as the most conservative among colleges and universities in the U.S.
12. University of Hawaii - Manoa
While it's located in a gorgeous region of the country, this school is ranked #6 on Princeton Review's list of schools with the least happy students as of 2014. It's also ranked #7 among schools with the least accessible professors.
13. The United States Naval Academy
The Naval Academy has a great reputation, and its alumni include presidents (Jimmy Carter) and almost-presidents (John McCain). But that reputation is built on the school's rigorous foundation of military discipline. The school makes no bones about it, but it ranked #4 on the Princeton Review's list of schools with the unhappiest students.
14. Georgia Institute of Technology
Georgia Tech is a prestigious institution, but like #8 UGA, its high profile may be attributed in part to a boost in admissions competitiveness from the HOPE Scholarship program. We're not saying you won't get a good education at Tech, but according to the Princeton Review, which ranked the university #3 in the Professors Get Low Marks category, undergraduate students might not get the attention they deserve.
15. Whittier College
Though Whittier is a renowned liberal arts school, it's also ranked #10 by the Princeton Review among schools with poor dormitory facilities. In addition, students question how the administration of the school is handled; Whittier is ranked #13 in the Princeton Review's Administrators Get Low Marks category.
If you get accepted to these or any other colleges, how do you decide which school is right for you?