Lewis University, a private school of 6,500 undergraduate and graduate students, is located about 35 miles southwest of Chicago. Founded as a Catholic school in 1932 with just 15 students, today Lewis welcomes students of all faiths. The school offers more than 80 undergrad majors and fields of study, including data science, digital marketing and music industry. Students say their professors are committed, helpful and accessible, and they benefit from a student to faculty ratio of just 14:1. The university also has a school for professional and continuing education.

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But Lewis' standout department may be its well-recognized aviation program and on-campus airport (not to mention its proximity to O'Hare International — one of the busiest airports in the country). Students can study air traffic control management, aviation administration and more.

Lewis’s campus is a bonafide arboretum and is home to more than 2,400 trees. There are 12 residence halls for students and more than 20 club sports teams, including archery, chess and Dungeons & Dragons

The median income ten years after enrollment is nearly $62,000, and 72% of its students graduate within six years, a better-than-usual rate.