The Citadel, in Charleston, South Carolina, is one of the six senior military colleges in the U.S. But unlike the country’s five service academies, its graduates are not required to serve in the military upon graduation, though many choose that route: 1 in 3 graduates earns an officer commission. More than 80% of students who apply to the public college get in, and 75% of them graduate within six years.

Campus life here is very structured: Students in the Corps of Cadets, as undergraduates are known, wear uniforms and march in military formations. Developing leadership skills is a major focus, as is regular physical training. The college has a well-regarded civil engineering program. Other popular majors include criminal justice and law enforcement, business administration and the social sciences. The college isn't particularly diverse: about three-quarters of the students are white, and more than 85% are male. (Women weren't admitted to the Citadel until 1996.)

The school offers wide-ranging opportunities, including the Citadel Success Institute, a summer program that helps incoming students prepare for life on campus, and the Global Scholars Program, which allows students to get a full semester of credits abroad in places like Greece and Cyprus.