William & Mary, chartered in 1693, is the second-oldest institution of learning in the country, and with a campus that borders Colonial Williamsburg in Virginia, it's easy to feel the history of the place.

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Today W&M remains one of the best public colleges in the nation — one of a few so-called "public Ivies." It's selective: Only about a third of applicants are admitted, and the majority of students who enroll rank in the top of their high school class. And it's successful: William & Mary has a 91% six-year graduation rate, and alums have average annual earnings of nearly $70,000 a decade after enrolling. Plus, 93% of graduates reported that they were employed or enrolled in graduate school within just six months of graduating from W&M.

The school prides itself on the quality of its undergraduate teaching. There are dozens of majors, among them Medieval and Renaissance studies, neuroscience and anthropology.

Greek life is an important part of the campus social scene, but there are more than 450 other organizations for students, including a cheese club and a cosplay club. School traditions are also an important part of student life. On the final day of classes, seniors line up to ring the ceremonial Wren Bell, and the entire student body celebrates the end of the year with the annual Royal Ball, a formal dance in the Sunken Garden at the center of campus.