Students who like to run things should feel right at home at Clarkson, a small university serving about 2,800 undergraduate students in upstate New York. Clarkson was founded by a local entrepreneur, and the university claims that one out of five alumni has held a position as a CEO, owner or other senior executive of a business.

Clarkson has a strong reputation in STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) areas, and it prides itself on job placement. Its Center for Advanced Materials Processing is sponsored by corporate heavyweights including Xerox and Corning. And though tuition isn't especially cheap, the school is known to be generous with merit aid — it offers a variety of scholarships, including some that cover tuition for four years and an extra $8,000 scholarship to early-decision applicants.

While Clarkson's location about 35 miles from Canada might seem a bit remote — and cold — the student body isn't hiding under the covers: Outdoor sports and recreation are popular, and the Golden Knights ice hockey team competes in Division I. The surrounding town of Potsdam, also home to a State University of New York campus, has quaint restaurants and shops, among them a beloved thrift store and a vendor of natural soaps.