Known as a “public Ivy,” the University of Virginia offers in-staters a top-notch education at one of the country’s lowest total college costs. What’s more, students live and study inside a UNESCO World Heritage Site (the only U.S. college to have that designation), featuring a spectacularly beautiful campus designed by university founder Thomas Jefferson.
Students seem to thrive: U.Va. has the highest graduation rate of any public school in the country: 93%. The undergraduate programs in English, history, education, business and many sciences (especially astronomy) are especially well regarded. Lately, though, it’s been a less cerebral class that’s made headlines, as Virginia this summer became the first school to offer a Game of Thrones course.
The school is not particularly diverse, economically, with just 11% of undergrads from low-income families. Virginia fields 25 Division I varsity sports, and many of the teams are very strong. Its men’s soccer team has won five national championships. Greek life also plays an important part of the social scene, as do some secret societies.