The flagship Seattle location of the University of Washington has emerged as one of the world's leading research universities, with more than 36,000 undergrads on that campus alone.

Because of its proximity to Boeing's manufacturing facilities, the school has particular expertise in aeronautics and counts five astronauts among its alums. UW has encouraging admissions odds for such a top-rated school: The school accepts about 53% of applicants, with priority acceptance for in-state students.

UW is known for its Husky Promise, which covers tuition and fees for certain residents. Overall, about half of undergrads receive grant or scholarship aid.

The Huskies' athletics are big — the student section is often packed to the brim for home football games at Husky Stadium, which overlooks Lake Washington. The close proximity to the lake also makes for a perfect training spot for the men's crew team, which has won five national championships in a row in recent years.

In addition to the hundreds of campus clubs and a large Greek Row, students can enjoy a wide variety of activities in the Seattle area and can reach beloved hiking trails or skiing destinations in the Cascades in as little as 40 minutes by car.