Known as the smallest school in the Ivy League, Dartmouth places a special emphasis on undergraduate pedagogy. You won't see teaching assistants leading much classroom instruction, as they do at many large schools.

Dartmouth operates on an unusual, year-round quarter system (or D-plan) that gives students the flexibility to arrange, say, a winter internship and still graduate on time. According to Money’s calculations, Dartmouth has a 94% six-year graduation rate, and students go on to earn median salaries of about $95,500 in the first several years after college.

Greek life is rich on campus; about half of students participate in a fraternity, sorority or gender-inclusive chapter. In addition to the Dartmouth Outing Club, the oldest and largest such group in the country, the college organizes a freshman orientation program that gives incoming students the opportunity to explore the region's natural beauty by hiking the nearby Appalachian Trail and venturing further afield to Dartmouth's 27,000-acre wilderness expanse, a few hours north of the Hanover campus.

Among its notable alumni are several Hollywood names, including actress and producer Mindy Kaling, screenwriter David Benioff, screenwriter and producer Shonda Rhimes, and actress Connie Britton.