Babson specializes in curating business leaders and future entrepreneurs. Although the school offers only one undergraduate degree — a B.S. in business — half of the students' course loads are in the liberal arts and sciences. Upperclassmen can choose up to two "concentrations," akin to a major, in subjects as diverse as literary and visual arts, historical and political studies, or environmental sustainability. Students get hands-on experience from the beginning, launching a startup business as part of a freshmen team (all profits go to a charity of the team's choosing) and, in later years, through continuing interaction with local companies and via internships.

The result of all that real-world learning: Babson performs extremely well in Money’s evaluation of student outcomes. Grads tend to stand out in the job market, with early career earnings topping $111,000. The list of ventures started by alums is impressive, including brands like Gerber, Home Depot and Zumba Fitness.

The suburban Boston campus draws an international crowd. About 80% of undergraduates live on campus in one of 18 residence halls. Sports are a popular pastime; Babson has 23 Division III teams, as well as more than 25 club and intramural teams. The school says that more than 1,000 students participate in some kind of athletic program.