Union College offers a wide liberal arts curriculum alongside majors like mechanical engineering, neuroscience and geosciences. Greek life has historically played an important role on the central New York campus — six national fraternities were founded at Union between 1825 and 1847. But the private college is committed to building a community for all students through its beloved Minerva Houses. As freshmen, students are assigned to one of the seven houses, which serve mainly as lounges. Each house also has its own governing council and hosts social events. Professors often teach first-year discussion sessions there, and upperclassmen can live above the common areas.

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The student-faculty ratio is 9:1 at Union, which operates on a trimester system, with three 10-week terms plus a long winter break. Students say Union has high academic standards and high-quality professors to match — faculty members are often happy to help and available to chat. The result is a student body eager to explore the college's over 60 academic programs, with a quarter of attendees studying more than one discipline.

Almost 87% of Union students graduate within six years, and recent grads report a median salary of $75,000, which is well above average, according to Money's calculations. Alumni include comedian Ben Schwartz, Olympian Nikki Stone and former President Chester Arthur.