The College of New Jersey is a public school that could easily be confused for a private one thanks to its small size, residential model and liberal arts curriculum. That may be by design, as the college aims to keep talented New Jersey students in their home state in a region dense with higher ed options.

The college's outcomes are top-notch, especially for a public school: About 85% of students graduate within six years, which places it among the top public colleges in the country. TCNJ has nearly 7,000 full-time undergraduates, and the average class size is 21 students. Popular degree programs include business, education, psychology, biology and nursing.

As for campus life, about a quarter of students are fraternity and sorority members who center their social lives around the Greek system. Nearly all freshmen live in residence halls. Since the school is located in a suburb of Trenton, in the south-central part of the state, students also tend to visit Philadelphia or Manhattan — both about an hour away — for big-city fun.