Unlike many of the other top-rated liberal arts colleges on Money's list, Kenyon College is far from the East Coast. The rural Ohio college was founded in 1824 to train Episcopal clergy. Over time, Kenyon has grown more competitive: The college now routinely welcomes a freshman class whose students score in the highest quadrant of SAT and ACT test-takers.

The 1,800 or so undergraduates can choose from more than 30 majors and several concentrations. The college's 610-acre nature preserve, which features forest, prairie and wetland habitats, encompasses half of the 1,000-acre campus and provides opportunities to hike the 14-mile trail network or do hands-on research.

Sports are popular on campus, and Kenyon students don't simply watch from the sidelines. Nearly one-third of the student body participates in one of the 22 Division III teams, and many more play intramural sports.

All students live on campus in one of the more traditional residence halls or, after freshman year, in college-owned housing. While the school is rural, Columbus is just an hour's drive away, and a trip to Cleveland will take only two hours. Notable alumni include author John Green, former President Rutherford B. Hayes, actress Allison Janney and cartoonist Bill Watterson.