UC Riverside has an economically diverse student body and impressive outcomes. Students graduate at a rate of 80%, and the average alumni salary is about $64,000 a decade after enrolling.

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The campus, which is part of University of California’s 10-school system, started as a humble “citrus experiment station;” a research area the school still specializes in. Today, the university’s College of Natural and Agricultural Studies offers educational opportunities in conservation, astrobiology and much more — plus access to 40 acres of botanic gardens.

Undergrad research opportunities are similarly vast, and the results are profound. Several years ago, UCR engineering students designed a roof tile that breaks down the air pollutants that cause smog, and in 2015, a senior discovered a new species of firefly while collecting insects for class.

The university is also home to the world's largest collection of science fiction and fantasy titles (it contains more than 100,000 books, plus another 100,000 fanzines). There are plenty of clubs and organizations, too, catering to interests from water polo to drag performance.