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

Today William & Mary remains one of the best public colleges in the nation — one of only 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 class. And it's successful: William & Mary has a 90% six-year graduation rate, and recent grads report average annual earnings of $69,900 a decade after enrolling, according to Money data.

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. More than 80% of classes have fewer than 40 students. (Over 70% of the majors offered are in the STEM and computational fields.) More than 80% of classes have fewer than 40 students.

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.