Williams College is the highest-rated traditional liberal arts college in Money’s rankings. Among its standout qualities: plenty of personalized attention (the student-faculty ratio is a low 7 to 1) and an unusual tutorial system, modeled after Oxford University’s, that pairs two students who critique each other’s papers and meet weekly with a professor. The system apparently works: Recent grads report earning over $50,000 a year, substantially more than alumni of similarly elite liberal arts schools.
The campus, amid Massachusetts’ Berkshire Mountains, is full of history: Its library displays a first folio of Shakespeare’s plays and a number of founding documents of the U.S., including George Washington’s copy of The Federalist Papers, an early draft of the Constitution, and other treasures. For fun, on one Friday every October, the president cancels classes to hold Mountain Day. Students get their minds off their studies by hiking nearby Mount Greylock, going on picnics, and taking polar bear plunges.