Villanova, the oldest Augustinian Catholic university in the U.S., is located about 12 miles outside of Philadelphia. The school enjoys a solid academic reputation, and its business department is a particular point of pride: Graduates of the Villanova Business School, which offers seven degree programs, have a 99.7% job placement success rate, Villanova says. (Other popular programs include nursing, communications and mechanical engineering.)

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Overall, the university has an outstanding graduation rate, and students have earnings of that top $96,000 a decade after enrolling. And while the estimated price of a ’Nova degree ($250,000) is quite high, the school says it awarded more than $132 million in need-based financial aid and merit scholarships for undergraduate students last year. On campus, students can be found congregating in the Connelly Center, St. Mary's Hall and around the Oreo (an abstract black-and-white sculpture on the quad).

Restaurants and bars in the area are also popular, and Philadelphia's attractions are just a short train ride away. Community service is a powerful force at Villanova; many students participate in immersive “Service and Justice Experiences'' for local grassroots organizations engaged in community revitalization, immigrant justice and homeless outreach. So is the Catholic faith: As part of the curriculum, every incoming freshman must take at least two scripture-driven seminars.