The quality of teaching is high at this elite liberal arts college — at least in the eyes of those being taught. Middlebury's professors receive high student ratings, and the school boasts a six-year graduation rate of 94%, one of the highest in the country.

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The college is recognized for its language and writing programs, and every summer it hosts the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference, which has featured writers such as Toni Morrison, George R. R. Martin and Anne Sexton. Middlebury is also known for promoting gap years, which allow students to defer enrollment in order to travel, work or volunteer. There's an entire February admissions cohort made up of students who choose to start college in the spring rather than the fall after taking a semester off.

Middlebury's bucolic Vermont setting offers both mountain views and a convenient collection of used bookstores, boutiques and coffee shops. Students can also head into the city of Burlington for more nightlife and entertainment. Of course, studying in New England means ample opportunities to enjoy winter sports. The Middlebury Snow Bowl is popular for skiing, as is nearby Bread Loaf Mountain.