We recently came out with our list of the 50 best colleges in America.
Many of the top schools — like MIT (No. 1), Stanford (No.2), and Harvard (No. 3) — appear on the east or west coasts of the States, but there are a number of incredible schools in the heart of America: the Midwest.
To create this list, we asked readers to choose the colleges that best prepare students for success after graduation from a list of what we perceived to be the top 100 schools in the country.
We combined the survey results with each school’s average SAT score and the median starting salary. (You can read the full methodology here.)
We filtered our list down to show the top schools in the Midwest. Keep scrolling to see which colleges made it.
Average SAT score: 1990
Median starting salary: $US41,200
St. Paul, Minnesota's Macalaster College ranked seventh in the nation, according to US News, for commitment to teaching. And some of the classes taught at the St. Paul, Minnesota-based college are quite unusual: Some of its 'cutting-edge courses' include 'inside the animal mind,' 'constructions of a female killer,' and 'the automobile and the American environment.'
Average SAT score: 1995
Median starting salary: $US46,400
With more than 50 majors, minors, and interdisciplinary concentrations, Kenyon makes it easy for students to customise their educations and create a course of study that's right for them. The Gambier, Ohio-based school offers lifetime career services for alumni, and gets alumni involved in hiring other Kenyon students for internships, externships, and other employment opportunities.
Average SAT score: 2093
Median starting salary: $US43,100
Call Grinnell the gateway to a grad degree, if you will: 10 years after graduation, 51% of Grinnellians hold advanced degrees from institutions like Harvard, Dartmouth, Johns Hopkins, and the London School of Economics. Other students at the Grinnell, Iowa-based school find employment with companies like Mayo Clinic, Nickelodeon, and the Kauffman Foundation. The school is located in Grinnell, Iowa.
Average SAT score: 2040
Median starting salary: $US40,200
Oberlin College, in Oberlin, Ohio, is renowned for its music conservatory, which funnels talented musicians into careers as performers, composers, and conductors with the Civic Orchestra of Chicago, the Canton Symphony Orchestra, and Chamber Music Northwest, for example.
Eighty-six per cent of graduates go directly into the workforce, a service corps or fellowship, or grad school after their bachelor's degrees.
Average SAT score: 1885
Median starting salary: $US48,000
Ohio State University offers over 200 majors, and about 12,000 courses. OSU graduates are highly desirable job candidates, according to The Wall Street Journal, which ranked the school 12th in the nation for most sought-after graduates. Ohio State, in Columbus, was also ranked the 18th-best overall public university in the country by US News.
Average SAT score: 2115
Median starting salary: $US43,700
Carleton's main focus is to give students a true liberal-arts education by teaching them to be lifelong learners. In this quest, the school, located in Northfield, Minnesota, offers courses across 37 departments, including everything from linguistics to sociology to economics. US News also named Carleton the No. 8 best liberal-arts college in the US.
Average SAT score: 1935
Median starting salary: $US48,500
UW ensures that learning takes place in more than just the classroom; students learn through community service, research opportunities, and internships. The University of Wisconsin at Madison is the alma mater of a number of famous alumni, including architect Frank Lloyd Wright, novelist Joyce Carol Oates, transatlantic pilot Charles Lindbergh, and US senator Tammy Baldwin.
Average SAT score: 1780
Median starting salary: $US55,400
Indiana's land grant university in West Lafayette has a stellar track record of students pursuing their dreams after graduation: 85% of students surveyed from the class of 2013 found themselves employed full-time or in graduate school. Purdue alumni employers range from large corporations like Amazon, PepsiCo, and Disney to government entities and universities.
Average SAT score: 2030
Median starting salary: $US55,000
No. 45 on our overall list of the best colleges in America, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is home to one of the largest public-university library collections in the world, with more than 24 million volumes across over 20 area-studies libraries. Students can take advantage of more than 400 study-abroad programs in more than 60 countries.
Average SAT score: 2030
Median starting salary: $US58,000
Cleveland, Ohio-based Case Western is known for its top-rated engineering and science programs; nearly 30% of students major in an engineering field, and another 13% major in biology. Students are exposed to an endless number of research opportunities at a school that's consistently ranked in the top 20 private research institutes in the country.
Average SAT score: 2230
Median starting salary: $US55,000
Ranked the seventh-most selective university by US News and No. 27 on our main colleges list, WashU says more than 90% of its students rank in the top 10% of their graduating high-school classes. WashU makes it a priority to help students succeed not only as employees, but as employers, giving them a substantial background in entrepreneurial studies and executive education.
Average SAT score: 2140
Median starting salary: $US55,200
Within six months of graduation, 86% of Notre Dame's class of 2013 were either employed full-time or enrolled in graduate school. These graduates earned an average starting salary of $US55,200, and ended up at top companies like NBC Universal, Ernst & Young, and Deloitte. The South Bend, Indiana-based university is No. 24 on our main list.
Average SAT score: 2065
Median starting salary: $US56,800
Second only to Harvard, Michigan students received more Fulbright grants than anywhere else in the country last year. The university, which ranks 23rd on our overall best colleges list, counts Google cofounder Larry Page, actor James Earl Jones, and President Gerald Ford among its many high-profile alumni.
Average SAT score: 2215
Median starting salary: $US54,200
Based in Chicago, Northwestern doesn't just focus on students' time during college, it helps them look to the future as well. The most popular majors among 2013 graduates were economics, journalism, and psychology, and within six months of graduation 81% of the class was either employed or in graduate school full-time.
'Students from Vanderbilt and Northwestern have always impressed me with their high level of intelligence, but low level of entitlement,' said one survey participant. 'They are not ostentatious about how much they know, but they are very personable -- at least in my experiences -- and have always been interesting people to be around.'
Average SAT score: 2255
Median starting salary: $US48,800
The University of Chicago (No. 19 on our main list) offers 51 majors and 33 minors to undergraduates, including everything from comparative literature to statistics. For students who want to continue their education, UChicago's business and law schools both earned the No. 4 spots for their respective categories from US News.
'University of Chicago offers an exhilarating mix of world-class instruction from Nobel prize winners in a radically changing social environment,' one survey taker noted.
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