20 Western Colleges with a Small-Town Feel

Western Colleges with a Small Town Feel - featured image

When choosing a university, location plays a vital role for many students! If you’re searching for a college or university that will give you that laid-back and relaxed vibe throughout the year in the Western part of the US, your school search is over! You’re in for a world of options!

Quick Summarization:
Western states are no longer just known for wide, empty spaces, cattle, mining, and mountains. Exuding (and rivaling!) the Southern charm, Modern Western America is now bustling with various industries associated with Hollywood, sustainability projects, gambling, and even aerospace development. People visit the West for many purposes, and it’s even an excellent place for retirees. Along with all these great qualities, a young student like you can be able to start paving your academic career in this region. If you’re thinking of acquiring an education in the West, you’ll have access to diverse choices of schools located in Western America. Discover the best of Western towns at one of our featured colleges.

A Break From the City Life

New York in the Northeast may be a dream city for many students who want the big city life, but there’s a lot that Western America offers! California, for one, is more than thrice the size of New York.

Lockheed Martin, Hewlett Packard, and Rolling Stone Magazine, which are distinctly popular major employers, are headquartered in California. To the delight of the outdoorsy types, the state merges the incredible modern world of opportunities with recreational activities in the great outdoors, as shown by its thriving hospitality and tourism industry.

Whether you’re a city person but want a change of environment for your higher education or a college towns college student who wants to study a bit nearer to your hometown, choose a Western college!

Unlike a state college, a small university in a college town is generally campus-based, located in the countryside or near small towns, and is free of large cities’ noise, pollution, and traffic that seem to envelop the whole area.

Think instead of a place to live characterized by a tight-knit community, where art galleries, performing arts centers, coffee shops, a music scene for music lovers (like music festivals and other music events), open spaces, hiking trails, beautiful gardens, natural areas, and historic buildings and other historic sites are within reach–without being too distracting.

Typically, a small college town offers university students the traditional college experience on a beautiful campus with natural surroundings and greenery.

While there are live music or modern coffee shops and golf courses around, you’ll always be able to rejuvenate and veer away from distractions when your campus is surrounded by a natural environment!

You can have a memorable and fulfilling college experience in a college town by doing more than just studying. The positive effects of a safe and nurturing environment are felt in the mind, body, and spirit. Going to college in a rural setting includes more space, fewer distractions, and greater access to the great outdoors.

Typically, small colleges are situated in small college towns or nearby farmlands, parks, or wilderness areas. You can stay focused and recharge for a peaceful getaway nearby.

If you have some free time over the weekend, you’ll have easy access to campsites, nature parks (which can also include a college park) mountain sceneries, lakes, and other best places that make relaxing spots in popular college towns.

While North Carolina (home to the suburban University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill) in the Southeast faces the Atlantic Ocean, the Western states of Alaska, California, Hawaii, Oregon, and Washington on the West Coast border the Pacific Ocean. College town students in these places don’t run out of reasons to hit the beach!

Also, in top college towns and busy cities (like New York that is a dream to many), connecting with people can be challenging. There could be too many different people, businesses, and cultural events that don’t concern you or your school. You need to focus on what matters most in a smaller college town setting. And this is what awaits you when you choose to enroll in a small Western college away from the city!

The first time you are away from home on your own can be frightening. An increase in responsibility and unfamiliarity can be exciting but also unnerving at the same time.

Fortunately, there are learning institutions in the best college towns in America that promise a higher level of safety, less stress, and more prosperous relationships compared to schools located in large cities. 

All the same, small college town institutions in the West are home to art galleries and the best facilities. Outside, you enjoy a culturally diverse, small city life as the small town hosts tree-lined streets, local artists, local businesses, sporting events, locally owned bars, many restaurants, coffee shops, film festivals, theatre companies, local parks, several museums, and many attractions or other places of recreation or entertainment.

Western Colleges with a Small Town Feel - fact

Getting That Small-Town Feel From A Western College

There are often green spaces on the campus of the best college towns, allowing you to take a relaxing stroll between lectures. In particular, being close to nature is beneficial to students who study a degree related to the outdoors, such as agriculture, in which these schools often excel.

Federal public lands, including national parks and monuments, are more abundant in the West than in any other region. These lands are opportunities to hike, fish, hunt, ski, boat, and participate in other recreation forms. This scenic backdrop also serves as a backdrop for the region’s communities.

It might be challenging to find activities and attractions in the area around a small college town if you attend one. But that’s only a misconception! Students are more inclined to recreate school or cultural events and turn the campus into a more fun and engaging place.

The campus’ progressive community characterizing the best college towns in America offers plenty to do, whether it’s clubs, sports, concerts, or simply relaxing on the quad. A smaller rural college may also have a more friendly group of classmates.

You can check out many famous local and cultural events around the Western region and see if your school participates in them.

Campus life and activities in the best college towns are the norms for most students studying in Western rural colleges or universities. A campus culture that is close-knit and highly spirited is the result. The number of students is also usually smaller at rural colleges.

Because of the smaller student population, you feel at ease with fellow students and create stronger friendships together. The same goes for your faculty and school staff too.

Another benefit of attending a Western school is the possibility of saving on tuition fees. Small towns with a kid-friendly place to live enjoy a low cost or reasonable cost of living. And even if your school is located in a leading city that hosts massive populations but essentially exudes rural town living, the living costs around the area might still be cheaper than central-located campuses. There is financial aid available to students who qualify.

Small college towns are generally a low-cost place to live. They are much cheaper than a large city in terms of electricity, bills, and rent. Also, when you study in a Western school where it feels like a small town, you won’t feel distracted to waste your money on unnecessary parties and getaways.

Small-town living might provide you with the atmosphere you need to focus on your academics and career goals. Living within big city limits could distract you.

With so much nightlife and entertainment available, it can be easy to ignore your degree and lose focus on a place to live in big cities. College success can be improved with a tight-knit campus community that limits outside distractions.

The campus community in little towns in America usually compensates for the lack of off-campus facilities. Their size is generally smaller than that of urban universities in many cities but they are known for their low unemployment rates.

Smaller spaces in the best college towns also make it easier to meet new people frequently and establish long-lasting relationships.

20 Colleges in the West Giving You That Small-Town Feel

It is a healthier choice for college students to live in the community while getting an education in a college town than living in the big city. Explore the Western region and enroll in one of these 20 small-town colleges:

University of Alaska Fairbanks

University of Alaska Fairbanks

Fairbanks, Alaska

The Fairbanks campus’s unique location makes it an ideal site for Arctic and northern research, just 200 miles south of the Arctic Circle.

A group of three Alaskan universities, the University of Alaska system hosts 19 campuses in the state, the flagship campus being the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

The University of Alaska Fairbanks matriculates approximately 9,000 undergraduates and graduate students annually. They offer courses in civil engineering, social work, and marine science.

College campus activities and recreation are abundant in the University of Alaska Fairbanks campus and college town located in the heart of Alaska. A student recreation complex with an indoor sports arena and two lakes on campus. You’ll be able to appreciate and enjoy nature scenery every day.

Sports facilities are widely available on their campuses and pistol ranges, swimming pools, track fields, and gyms. A particular aerobics area and a two-story climbing wall are also available. The facility even has an ice skating rink where you can skate and play hockey. 

Students applying for undergraduate degrees must submit either an ACT or SAT score. In addition to having a bachelor’s degree, graduate applicants must meet the specific entrance requirements of the program they wish to enter, such as a minimum GPA or GRE score.

Students at UAF are down-to-earth, friendly, and free-thinking. A major research university, this pleasant place of learning explores and innovates both inside and outside the classroom. Alaska offers tremendous opportunities for challenging yourself, not just at school but also in life.

A substantial tuition discount is available to Alaska residents, and more than 450 additional scholarships are available to students to further reduce the overall cost of education. Active-duty military and Air Force personnel also receive waivers on both course fees and application fees.

Paradise Valley Community College

Paradise Valley Community College

Phoenix, Arizona

Choose excellence in higher education when you choose Paradise Valley Community College.

A Maricopa County Community College system member, Paradise Valley Community College is located in Phoenix. While this city is one of the country’s richest, it has small towns tucked away! More than 8,400 students enrolled at PVCC, many of whom attend part-time while maintaining work and family commitments.

PVCC offers scholarships for high school students pursuing dual enrollment and small business entrepreneurs who need financial assistance to grow their businesses. Look for your enrollment counselor to help you out.

In addition to the undergraduate degree level of featured programs, associate’s of applied science degrees are available in many fields like accounting, dietetics, public health, and sciences.

PVCC’s audio production technologies and music business associate programs make it different from other community colleges and big universities in the state, such as Northern Arizona University.

Paradise Valley Community College is ideal for aspiring performing arts talents or working musicians seeking further studies to explore vital music scenes or music production career tracks.

Furthermore, college students who are music lovers can choose from distance learning options, including fully online, hybrid, and facilitated independent learning classes.

PVCC has another campus at Black Mountain. Maricopa County Community College District is a historic district that owns an 82-acre parcel of land for the campus between 56th and 60th streets and the Carefree Highway.

The initial phase of the Paradise Valley Community College campus at Black Mountain is a project of PVCC, along with the Valley of the Sun YMCA, and the Foothills Community Foundation.

Arizona may be a bustling state, but it is a center of recreational activities in majestic outdoor hiking trails, particularly Grand Canyon National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site!

University of Colorado Boulder

University of Colorado Boulder

Boulder, Colorado

It is one of only 36 research universities in the U.S. to be a member of the Association of American Universities (AAU), recognized as one of its top research institutions.

The University of Colorado Boulder, a leader in numerous school rankings, appeals to many students for obvious reasons. Besides keeping university students drawn to its rocky mountains location and stunning climate, it has more than 300 miles of bike paths and comes with an excellent public transportation system.

A few miles away is the big city of Denver and Fort Collins where Colorado State University is located, as well as more than 40 state parks that make the best college towns in America more interesting.

They continually strive to become a more diverse, inclusive, and anti-racist place as a university. To make the necessary progress, C.U.

Boulder needs the commitment and engagement of all university students, faculty, and staff. With 145 years of advancing and sustaining the public good, they are committed to supporting and enabling everyone to make a difference.

California Polytechnic State University

California Polytechnic State University

San Luis Obispo, California

They integrate their education with the real world by teaching by doing.

California Polytechnic State University-San Luis Obispo, a top-rated regional university, is a public institution founded in 1901. There are currently more than 20,000 undergraduates enrolled in this 6,000-acre main campus in suburban California, the place of the best college towns. 

The California Polytechnic State University is also called Cal Poly. The location is in the middle of Los Angeles and San Francisco. Nearly 40 graduate degree levels and programs are available to Cal Poly students, including ones in their Orfalea College of Business. 

Cal Poly offers almost 70 majors to undergraduate students. One of the most popular choices is engineering, which is highly ranked. The Cal Poly College of Engineering has over 80 laboratories with state-of-the-art equipment and 50 clubs.

The university is home to 300 student organizations, including Rose Float, which supports students in conceptualizing and constructing a float for the annual New Year’s Rose Parade in Pasadena, California. Weird Al Yankovic, a performing arts guy who has become a famous comedic musician and former football coach, is a notable alumnus of this beautiful school.

University of Portland

University of Portland

Portland, Oregon

The University of Portland believes in educating individuals with their hands, hearts, and minds.

In 1901, the University of Portland was founded as a private institution. The campus is located in an urban setting reminiscent of a college town, and it follows a semester-based schedule. The University of Portland ranks high among regional universities in the West! It is a private Catholic university in northwest Oregon, also called UP.

About 40 undergraduate majors are available, in multiple colleges and the Shepard Freshman Resource Center offers services to help first-year students adjust to college. The Pamplin School of Business and the University’s School of Nursing are two of the University of Pittsburgh’s 15 graduate programs.

Within proximity are attractions with discounted student tickets, including the Oregon Zoo and the Alberta Arts District. Students can also attend the Portland Opera and the Portland Art Museum off-campus.

There are also dozens of clubs and organizations available to UP students and nearly 15 club sports teams. Additionally, UP offers 12 varsity teams in Division I of the West Coast Conference, called the Pilots. Numerous international soccer players have graduated from the university and co-inventor Donald Shiley.

As part of UP’s commitment to education outside the classroom, they provide various extracurricular activities, including a campus ministry.

Through the Moreau Center, students can get involved in local, national, and international volunteer projects, participate in outdoor activities of the Beauchamp Recreation and Wellness Center, and become members of the Associated Students of the University of Portland.

University of Redlands

University of Redlands
Redlands, California

You have a competitive advantage in the school district market with Redlands’ stellar reputation. Their impact on public education has been more significant than any other college or university in the Inland Empire for 90 years.

The University of Redlands was founded in 1907 and is a private university. It is located in the suburbs, boasting 160 acres of land, similar to institutions in many of the best college towns. The academic calendar is based on 4-1-4. The University of Redlands is a top-ranking university in the West. 

With mountains, cities, and beaches within proximity, the University of Redlands is located in California, in the middle of Palm Springs and Los Angeles. A two-year program in academic communication disorders is offered in the Department of Communication Disorders at Redlands University. 

Redlands has more than 40 undergraduate majors and at least ten graduate programs. Students attend classes in “green” buildings and participate in events such as the annual Recycle Day and the school’s sustainable farm. 

Students at Redlands can participate in various school-sponsored outdoor pursuits, like hot air ballooning and sea kayaking, due to the school’s unique location. Based on the fictional sport, even Harry Potter fanatics can get involved in the school’s club for surfing and quidditch.

Students looking for a traditional route will find more than 20 varsity teams competing in the NCAA Division III Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference at Redlands. One of Redlands’ notable alumni is jazz saxophonist Gerald Albright, who has been nominated for a Grammy.

Pacific Lutheran University

Pacific Lutheran University

Tacoma, Washington

Pacific Lutheran University invests highly in its bold commitment to serve students better, and more just, and provide them with more job opportunities.

Pacific Lutheran University dates back to 1890. This is a school located in the best college towns and suburbs that make you feel like studying in a small town. There are 156 acres on campus. The academic calendar is 4-1-4. Pacific Lutheran University is one of the best regional universities in the West. 

As a result of caring, the school is constantly challenged to reach for new connections. PLU is more than just a campus of individuals pursuing their dreams. They are a community of seekers, trailblazers, creators, and changemakers who believe that together, we can achieve more than we can alone.

Through nurturing and inspiring students, they think they can drive that future. Their ambition becomes their purpose, their skills become tools, and their caring becomes a force for transformation.

Westminster College

Westminster College

Salt Lake City, Utah

Be a part of something real once you join the family at Westminster College. 

Utah State University may immediately come to mind when talking about the state, but Westminster College, also located in Utah, is a comparably beautiful campus with a rich history to the delight of history buffs! was established in 1875. The school follows a four-year academic calendar.

Just one hour north of Pittsburgh, in the charming town of New Wilmington, they are indeed closer than you think. A student-to-faculty ratio of 11:1 and strong academics are a few reasons you need to study hard. By offering study abroad opportunities and connecting with our alumni, they can expand their horizons.

More than 80 clubs and 22 varsity sports are available at their school. It’s their mission to give everyone the freedom to think and participate in what matters most to them. Nearly 1,200 students join their institution and become part of this family every year. 

In New Wilmington, Pennsylvania, you will find beautiful green spaces, walking trails, a canoeing lake, and athletic fields–the perfect setting for small college towns! This university offers 42 majors, 13 pre-professional programs, and seven graduate programs.

Westminster’s seven undergraduate schools provide more than 50 majors and pre-professional programs. Almost all of their graduates have jobs or are in graduate school one year after graduation. Their programs provide students with deep expertise in significant fields of study and a long list of soft skills that employers value.

St. Mary’s College of California

St. Mary's College of California

Moraga, California

It is their wish that you embrace knowledge, the challenges of scholarship, and the capability to impact the world at Saint Mary’s College of California. The mission drives everything they do.

Saint Mary’s College of California originated in 1863 and is a private institution. It is in a college town suburban area on 420 acres of land. The college uses a 4-1-4 academic calendar.

This gorgeous campus is located in the heart of San Francisco’s Bay Area, in Moraga Hills. They are conveniently located near some of Oakland’s best food spots, internship opportunities in Silicon Valley, and San Francisco, a world-class city with vibrant sports, cultural events, and start-up national companies that can become major employers.

The dining hall and quad are two places where you’re sure to see your classmates and friends. But some of the famous places for students include the Giants games, farmers’ markets, and art galleries in Mission District.

In just 30 minutes, you can explore San Francisco by car. While this school gives that small city feel, you can easily access what you need from the city. 

There’s more to San Francisco than this city of the best college towns offers, just as there’s more to Saint Mary’s than Moraga. Across the Caldecott Tunnel, Oakland and Berkeley offer fantastic parks, restaurants, shops, and cultural attractions.

Also nearby are Walnut Creek and Concord, places that may not be urban hotspots but offer numerous shopping and dining options.

Reed College

Reed College

Portland, Oregon

Reed College promotes intellectual pursuits to enrich one’s life and is dedicated to the highest standards of scholarly practice, critical thinking, and creativity.

As one of the most well-known colleges in America, Reed College is located in Portland, Oregon, in the foothills of the Tualatin Mountains. With an emphasis on academic rigor and focus, Reed was intentionally conceived as a contrast to elitist Ivy League universities.

Reed College is among the few colleges with a student-maintained nuclear reactor, combining the classical liberal arts with contemporary science. Reed’s outdoor recreational opportunities are committed to its mission of helping students become independent thinkers and leaders, and narrative evaluations generally substitute for grades.

A great mountain college similar to institutions in small college towns, Reed is also a great outdoor college, with its forested wetlands in Reed Canyon near campus to its ski cabin on Mt. Hood, the third-highest mountain in Oregon.

Sceneries create Portland’s rugged beauty from Powell Butte, Mt. Tabor, and Rocky Butte, visible from campus on a clear day. The Reed Outing Club promotes outdoor adventure in Oregon, from hiking, biking, and mountain climbing to camping in Oregon’s mountains.

If Oregon State University seems too big for a student who likes it less busy but seeks an adventure with nature, Reed an excellent college for outdoor enthusiast activities!

Brigham Young University

Brigham Young University

Provo, Utah

It is the mission of BYU to provide an education that strengthens the spirit, enlarges the mind, and builds character, leading to lifelong learning and service.

Brigham Young University, a private research school located in Provo, regularly makes it to one of the country’s leading mountain colleges and top national university rankings! The largest Mormon university globally, BYU was founded in 1875 and has over 33,000 students; the majority are international students from other countries.

BYU is widely recognized as being one of the most engaged universities globally, thanks to its loyal campus culture and high-quality education.

The BYU community is deeply committed to the service of the community. Due to the high level of activity on campus and the Mormon focus on health, BYU is one of the US’ healthiest campuses!

Utah’s haven for outdoor adventurers has many sceneries and views rich in natural resources–a must for the best college towns! BYU has become a model mountain college for decades, and Utah is one of the best states for outdoor activities. 

BYU Outdoors Unlimited is an on-campus shop that provides low-priced options for buying and renting outdoor gear for students, faculty, and residents. You’ll find everything you need at BYU to explore hiking and biking trails, go camping, try kayaking, and enjoy trekking!

Various student organizations, such as the BYU Outdoor Adventure Club, arrange and prepare trips and outdoor activities, so students can spend as much time outside as they want.

Western Washington University

Western Washington University

Bellingham, Washington

This comprehensive public university serves the citizens of Washington state.

Western Washington University has always been dedicated to serving the needs of its community since its founding in 1893 as a regular school – a teacher education school for young women. Located just a bit closer to Canada, WWU is the northernmost university in the continental United States.

In this historic district, WWU has developed a reputation as a model school with pioneering programs like the Huxley College of Environmental Science and Fairhaven College of Interdisciplinary Studies. Atop the West’s list of top 20 regional colleges in Western Washington.

Western Washington University is a mountain college located in Puget Sound, with the uncommon distinction of being a seaside college within the best college towns. A short drive to the West takes students to the North Cascades National Park, with several mountains, trails, and lakes.

This makes WWU one of the best colleges for outdoor recreational opportunities in the world. WWU’s Outdoor Recreation major and WWU Outdoor Center emphasize the outdoors as a crucial part of student life and learning. WWU students make Western Washington one of the best mountain recreation colleges with mountain biking and hiking and access to boat rentals at the Lakewood facility.

Montana State University

Montana State University

Bozeman, Montana

Among the nation’s top public research universities, MSU is recognized for its research prominence.

Originating with only eight students and two professors as a high school in Bozeman, Montana State University began as the state’s land-grant agricultural college in 1893. Over 16,000 students are enrolled at MSU today, building on the university’s unprecedented growth over the past decade as students flock to colleges known for outstanding STEM research and degree programs.

As a leader in bioengineering and technology, ecology, and environmental sustainability, MSU remains true to its original mission. In keeping with the university’s outreach to Montanans, Montana State is also a leader in rural medicine research.

Montana State College is a top mountain college in America, and characterizes an institution in many of the best college towns because it is devoted to the land and people of Montana. Bozeman, surrounded by several mountain ranges – Bridger Mountains, Tobacco Root Mountains, Big Belt Mountains, and more – is a mountain college.

With workshops, equipment rentals, leadership programs, and outdoor recreational opportunities, and adventure trips all over Montana, MSU’s Outdoor Recreation program is one of the country’s most developed outdoor programs.

Boise State University

Boise State University

Boise, Idaho

Boise State University is creating research that positively impacts lives, structures that transcend disciplines, and innovative spaces and programs. 

It is one of Idaho’s most important public universities, and it produces more undergraduate degrees than the University of Idaho or Idaho State University. Originally a private school, BSU became a private college in 1932.

Boise State University puts a lot of emphasis on meeting the needs of community members, and it has become well known throughout Idaho for its excellent teacher education, health sciences, business, and public service programs – all fields essential to living happily in Idaho.

They have a metropolitan campus located near the Boise River in Idaho’s largest city, just a short walk away from the heart of the best college towns.

Over 25,000 students from every state make up their large student population, and more than 60 countries represent the institution. They are expanding with the city, with new labs, residences, and a new high-tech arts center and art gallery.

Boise State’s campus is located in the foothills of Boise, making it one of the best mountain colleges and among the best for outdoor enthusiasts. Boise State students enjoy hiking and mountain biking in this region, with many trails throughout the city and mountain ranges.

In addition to organizing trips around the area, BSU’s Outdoor Program offers rafting and rock climbing excursions. Its Outdoor Rental Center has all the students’ gear for their excursions or expeditions. Students who are nature lovers will love Boise State, one of the best colleges in Idaho’s mountains.

Regis University

Regis University

Denver, Colorado

Regis University strives to build a more just and humane world by transforming faith, reason, and culture through transformative education.

This private Catholic university is recognized for its academic quality and rigor as one of the top mountain colleges in Colorado. Jesuit-founded Regis University started in 1877 in New Mexico and moved to Denver, CO, in 1887.

It consistently ranks as a leading west coast regional college, and is recognized for its programs that emphasize community engagement in The Institute for the Common Good and the Center for Service Learning.

Rocky Mountain life in Denver, CO, is fun and exciting. Regis students have endless outdoor recreational options. Students can rent equipment for free through the Outdoor Adventure Program, such as tents, sleeping bags, backpacks, cooking gear, and much other outdoor equipment.

In addition to the many organized activities throughout the year at this College, it also offers a variety of off-campus opportunities that remind students of small college towns, like wall climbing, horseback riding, hiking, camping, and more. As a mountain college renowned for its outdoor recreation, Regis is one of the best in the country.

Nevada State College

Nevada State College

Henderson, Nevada

Diverse populations of students gain access to quality, affordable option of degree programs that boost their career prospects and quality of life.

In Henderson, Nevada, Nevada State, a public college is an above-average school. The university has 2,000 undergraduate students. 85% of applicants are accepted. They have offered high-quality education in business, Psychology, and nursing programs.

With 23% of its graduates earning a starting salary of $40,000 on the national average, Nevada State graduates make a lucrative living right after graduation. 

This 511-acre campus is quickly growing to accommodate its growing student population and dynamic programs at the foot of Mount Scorpion in Henderson. The five buildings on campus include energy-efficient classrooms for 40 students or fewer, and the campus cafe also boasts an organic teaching garden and solar panels–a great idea for a small college town!

Their commitment to personalization makes us a vital link between the two-year colleges and the research institutions in Nevada, as the state’s only comprehensive public four-year institution.

Leeward Community College

Leeward Community College

Pearl City, Hawaii

Providing affordable options and quality education is at the core of Leeward Community College’s mission.

Leeward Community College offers 20 programs of study under the University of Hawai’i System. These include diverse programs in automotive technology and culinary arts. Many of these fields offer both certificate programs and associate degrees. In two years, students can complete part-time certificate programs.

On-campus students may also graduate in two years with an associate degree. Leeward Community College is a community center in Pearl City, Hawai’i, providing academic learning opportunities and a cultural center for their neighbors.

There is something for every student at the College, from professional career studies to liberal arts–exactly how institutions in the best college towns should be!

The liberal arts A.A. degree offered by Leeward CC can be transferred to the University of Hawaii at Manoa. Over two dozen online certifications are also available from the College, including business, education, and travel management. Students at this Hawaii community college choose to enroll in five-week accelerated online courses. 

Community colleges in this ranking accept GED holders, including Leeward CC. Scholarships are awarded to eligible students every year by the University of Hawaii System. Students interested in pursuing a degree at U.H. should complete the U.H. System Common Scholarship Application.

University of New Mexico

University of New Mexico

Albuquerque, New Mexico

Embracing divergence, they are afraid to let different colors bleed into each other, allowing what divides them to unify them. 

The University of New Mexico enrolls over 24,000 students. Applicants need to submit transcripts and an ACT or SAT score. Twenty-four college credits and a 2.0 GPA are needed to qualify for admission as transfer students.

Graduate applicants must have previously earned at least a bachelor’s degree with a 3.0 GPA. Tuition at UNM is based on residency status, but high-performing non-residents receive discounts.

Graduates of bachelor’s programs can select from multiple colleges offering construction engineering, music education, film, digital arts, and anthropology. In a business administration program, learners will have the option to choose from 13 different concentrations, including organizational leadership and human resources management.

At the heart of the best college towns, UNM offers an education planning and community building degree in Native American studies.

They offer master’s programs in special education, public health, and applied behavior analysis. The student body enjoys an effective distance learning system, thanks to Blackboard Learn. 

University of the Southwest

University of the Southwest

Hobbs, New Mexico

The University of the Southwest prepares men and women for service lives by emphasizing personal faith, responsibility, and initiative.

The University of the Southwest was founded in 1962 as a Baptist junior college but now offers interdenominational education to over 1000 students each semester.

To qualify for an undergraduate degree, first-time candidates need to meet two out of three major requirements, including a minimum 2.0 GPA, ranking in the top 50% of their high school class, and submitting their ACT or SAT scores.

Students with at least a 3.0 GPA can apply for donor-funded scholarships regardless of their residency status.

USW offers 50 undergraduate and 15 graduate programs. Many undergraduate programs are available to students interested in Christian Studies featuring the teachings of Jesus Christ, Psychology and its principles, and Early Childhood Education teaching strategies. There are also business courses and undergraduate programs available. 

The MBA program is an excellent choice for candidates who aim to expand their experience and knowledge in business.

There are ten specializations in this program and a self-designed degree plan. Check out their graduate-level programs if you wish to further your education after acquiring an undergraduate degree. 

Whitman College

Whitman College

Walla Walla, Washington

At Whitman, academic rigor and critical thinking are traditional values.

The Whitman College seminary dates to 1854, making it one of the oldest colleges in the Pacific Northwest and one of the most renowned in the West. The quality of its academic program diverse student population, and international study opportunities place Whitman as a liberal arts college nationally!

Students at Whitman are provided with exceptional support from faculty and school staff due to the low faculty-to-student body ratio of 1:9 Other than this, they also enjoy a one-on-one ratio on their arboretum campus. Whitman is based in Walla Walla, where a considerable percentage of students join the community and volunteer programs.

In addition to being a friendly and safe place to live, similar to schools in small college towns, Walla Walla is also an outdoor recreation hub, and Whitman students are fully engaged. Whitman College is one of the best mountain colleges in the West of America, offering outdoor programs all through the year.

They can go hiking, cross-country skiing, kayaking, ice climbing, and snowshoeing all over the Blue Mountains and other natural parks and beautiful scenery throughout the year. 

Key Takeaways

There are factors to consider when choosing a college in Western America.

Deciding where to study isn’t always black and white. Even if you make the right decisions, you may not realize what you missed until years later! Here are some useful tips:

  • The first step is to deliberately list each important factor you want in a nationally recognized Western college without the blinding city lights and mammoth crowds.
  • Choosing a well-known college should be primarily based on program availability. The majority of universities provide plenty of specializations, whether arts, sciences, medicine, or the law. Turn to school rankings resource guides and find out what universities specialize in and match results!
  • While it can be tempting to prioritize clubs and extracurricular activities over your academics, the most crucial aspect is to be able to learn what you intend to learn in higher education. For example, when considering studying engineering, you should locate Western small colleges with popular and emerging engineering degrees.
  • Speak with recent graduates, look up reviews online, and do more research! Fortunately, whatever degree you want to enroll in, you’ll have a list of the best reputable small colleges and universities in Western America’s small colleges based on the list above. 

Study at a Western university or college if you want to places to live in a slow-paced manner throughout the year.

Like many students, you might have considered leaving for the state capital. You may have had state college or university dreams of attending big-city, populous or advanced higher education institutions scattered across the country.

You might have wondered what attending University of Michigan, Michigan State University, University of North Carolina, Virginia Tech, Purdue University, North Dakota State University, Amherst College, Indiana University, Pepperdine University, California State University, Illinois State University would be like?

In the movies and on social media, you might have seen just how fun it is to attend big colleges in a popular college town, like Penn State Ohio University, Cornell University, Auburn University, University of Wisconsin, Rutgers University, Iowa State University, Pennsylvania State College or Western Kentucky University!

But the slower pace of life and laid back vibe in small but great college towns make them an ideal place to live. In addition to the intimate familiarity of your fellow students in a beautiful town in your college, you’re closer to nature than city life.

While art galleries and other entertainment avenues are available, you get better opportunities to focus more on your education. You can also ask your professors or other faculty members for help more easily because classes are smaller. As a result, you will receive more personalized attention.

Is slow-paced living more your style? Then a small college in small college towns in America or at least one which gives you the small college town vibe will be your best fit. The atmosphere at many urban colleges tends to be noisy, fast-paced, and dominated by hundreds of thousands of students.

If all these benefits entice you, you are ready to be in the best places to live in the West! Conduct a school search and pick a best known beautiful college town with a rich history, the biggest employers, low unemployment rates, a decent health system, acceptable national average pay, pleasant climate, natural beauty, and vibrant community!

Enroll in a Western college with a small-town vibe. In many such settings with a thriving economy and top employers promising low unemployment, major companies and major employers can present opportunities in a great college town as much as they do in the largest city!

Want to get away from the big city life like in the Northeastern New York? Smitten by the small town charm of many places with historical relevance in the West? When you ask yourself these common questions about settling in the best place, look for resource guides to help you navigate this college life decision, carve out a successful career for yourself, and settle in some of the best college towns as the greatest places to live!


Malcolm Peralty
Chief Editor