Alternative Colleges: Unique Schools for Unique Students: Acceptance Rate, Rankings & More – (2023)

Why Pursue a Nontraditional College Experience?

It's no secret that the needs and preferences of students vary greatly, but finding the right college for you might require going off the beaten path. Students choose their schools based on a variety of factors, including location, campus culture, affordability, and academic programs.

While these are important variables to consider, students can also consider institutions that offer innovative approaches to customizing majors, scheduling classes, or graduating debt-free. is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

Ready to Start Your Journey?

Whether you want to pursue an interdisciplinary degree that combines multiple interests, earn a four-year degree while only taking one class at a time, or work throughout college in lieu of paying tuition, you might be interested in learning more about the schools covered below.

Designing Your Own Major: Evergreen State College

Located in Olympia, Washington, Evergreen State College offers students an unparalleled degree of freedom to design their own field of study. The approach provides the flexibility to design an interdisciplinary area of emphasis that pulls from as many subjects as a student desires.

Alternative Colleges: Unique Schools for Unique Students: Acceptance Rate, Rankings & More – (1)

Choosing an Area of Emphasis or Path of Study

An area of emphasis at Evergreen presents students with a different way to think about the focus of their studies. Rather than having students declare their major soon after starting school, Evergreen invites students to choose their area of emphasis near the end of their studies, which helps them better describe what they've learned.

Learners can choose a traditional subject like geography or political science, or create their own descriptor like media and culture or international cinema. The title of your area of emphasis will not appear on your transcript, although you can use it in academic statements.

One benefit of this system is that if a student changes the focus of their studies, all the credits they've earned up to that point still count toward their degree. Students won't need to start over and complete new prerequisites, which helps them stay on track to graduate in four years.

For Evergreen students desiring a more guided and structured education, the school also features more than 60 disciplines, as well as several paths of study that combine multiple fields into a standard focus area. Students pursuing this option complete a planned sequence of programs over four years, such as integrated biology and chemistry, food and agriculture, or political economy, global studies, and environmental justice.

Other Schools Where You Can Design Your Own Major

Lesley University

A private university in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Lesley offers a self-designed major to students with a 3.0 GPA or higher. Undergraduates may submit a program proposal in their second semester which includes a personal statement, a description of their intended concentration and how it will meet their educational goals, and potential independent studies or internships they plan to pursue.
UMD offers students an undergraduate individual studies degree, where students design their program by combining disciplines and work closely with a faculty member. Students create a major that combines independent research, a course schedule, and study abroad opportunities.

St. Olaf College

Located in Northfield, Minnesota, St. Olaf's Center for Integrative Studies is entirely dedicated to cross-disciplinary academics. SOC also hosts a web community where students who designed their own major can connect and share their portfolios, projects, experiences, and more.

Popular Online Programs

Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.

Nontraditional Scheduling: Colorado College

Most college students are familiar with traditional semester and quarter systems and the requirement that a student must take four classes, or 12 credits per semester, to be considered a full-time student. However, some schools eschew these established formats and operate block schedules that require attendees to take a single class for several weeks at a time.

Alternative Colleges: Unique Schools for Unique Students: Acceptance Rate, Rankings & More – (2)

What Is Block Scheduling?

In 1970, Colorado College began operating an academic schedule known as the Block Plan, in which students take a single class for a three-and-a-half week period known as a block. This gives students time to fully engage with a single topic and not worry about juggling various projects, tests, and reading assignments for multiple classes.

The Block Plan is intended to be an immersive experience, and classes typically meet five days each week from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. One block is equivalent to a single class in a traditional semester system, and CC students take four blocks per semester, with an optional winter half block and summer session also available. Each block is followed by a four-day block break, which gives students time to prepare for their next course.

What Are the Benefits?

Aside from engaging with one topic at a time, the Block Plan's structure offers many advantages to students. The lack of conflicting class schedules allows professors more freedom to plan trips relevant to the course material, even to locations as far away as France and China. Additionally, classes with one teacher are capped at 25 students, which encourages bonding between students and greater familiarity and access to the instructor.

Tamara Bentley, a professor and director of Asian studies at CC, explains that professors teach just one class per block as well, which allows them to better familiarize themselves with students.

"Because of the intensity of the blocks, you become close to the students. When a student asks me to write a letter of recommendation, I remember exactly who they are. I remember what papers they wrote and I have a firm grasp on them as a person. So I'm better able to write a letter that is personal and specific to them," says Bentley.

Other Universities With Block Programs

Knox College uses a 3-3 academic calendar, where students take three classes over a 10-week trimester. This system serves as a middle ground between something like CC's Block Plan and a more traditional academic schedule.

Spalding University

Spalding University features a customizable block schedule. Spalding students take six weeks of classes, followed by a one-week break until the next block. Unlike other universities, undergraduate students can choose to take one or two classes per block and still graduate within four years.

Cornell College

In 1978, Cornell College adopted the "One Course at a Time" curriculum, which operates like Colorado College's Block Plan. Students take a single class per 18 day block, and have eight blocks each academic year.

Tuition-Free Colleges: College of the Ozarks

With student loan debt in the United States now topping $1.5 trillion, affordability has become increasingly important for many prospective students. While scholarships, grants, and loans can help reduce expenses, many prospective students are unaware that free-tuition colleges are another option available to them.

Alternative Colleges: Unique Schools for Unique Students: Acceptance Rate, Rankings & More – (3)

One of the eight schools that make up the Work Colleges Consortium, College of the Ozarks has dedicated itself to ensuring that students graduate from their institution debt-free. Located just outside Branson, Missouri, this school is commonly referred to as "Hard Work U," for its vocational education program that requires every student to work in an approved work area, in exchange for paying nothing in tuition costs.

Pursuing a Vocational Education

All full-time students at C of O work 15 hours each week at an assigned campus work station. Students may select a position from a pool of 80 work areas, which includes positions at the Computer Center, Child Development Center, and Ralph Foster Museum. As students establish themselves at the university, their work responsibilities may more closely align with their field of study.

A student's cost of education is covered by a combination of credits from participation in the work program, any federal and/or state aid for which students qualify, and the Cost of Education Scholarship. Students can also cover their room and board by working six weeks per term during their summer break. Since C of O discourages student borrowing, it does not participate in federal, state, or private loan programs.

Other Tuition-Free Schools

Alice Lloyd College

Located in Pippa Passes, Kentucky, Alice Lloyd College completely covers tuition for students residing in the 108-county, five state Central Appalachia service area. The Appalachian Leaders College Scholarship guarantees that students will pay nothing in out-of-pocket tuition expenses, but they still pay for other expenses like room and board. All full-time students are required to work between 10 to 20 hours each week.

Berea College

Through its Tuition Promise Scholarship, students at Berea College pay nothing in tuition and instead work in the school's labor program to pay for their education. Learners can choose from 100 college and off-campus work programs and earn more as they progress and take on more responsibilities.

United States Service Academies

The U.S. service academies all fully fund four-year educations. The academies include the U.S. Air Force Academy,U.S. Coast Guard Academy, U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, U.S. Military Academy (West Point), and the U.S. Naval Academy. In addition to tuition, some academies will also cover the costs of room and board, as well as medical and dental care. However, in exchange for having education expenses covered, students are required to serve in the military after graduation. Typically, students must serve five years in active-duty and three years in the Reserves.


Alternative Colleges: Unique Schools for Unique Students: Acceptance Rate, Rankings & More – ›

Academy of Art University

The Academy of Art University is located in San Francisco, California. It was founded in 1929 and is a proprietary institution. The school is located in an urban setting. Tuition and fees amount to approximately $29,190, and the academic year is based on a semester calendar.

What college has a 100% acceptance rate? ›

Academy of Art University

The Academy of Art University is located in San Francisco, California. It was founded in 1929 and is a proprietary institution. The school is located in an urban setting. Tuition and fees amount to approximately $29,190, and the academic year is based on a semester calendar.

What is the easiest school to get accepted into? ›

Colleges with 100% acceptance rates
  • University of Maine--Fort Kent.
  • University of Maine--Presque Isle.
  • University of Pikeville.
  • The University of Texas at El Paso.
  • Utah Valley University.
  • Wayne State College.
  • Weber State University.
  • Western Nevada College.
Mar 30, 2023

What is the #1 hardest school to get into? ›

Niche, a ranking and review site, recently published its list of the “2023 Hardest Colleges to Get Into.” Using data from the U.S. Department of Education on various colleges' acceptance rates and SAT/ACT scores, they found, unsurprisingly, Harvard University to be the most difficult college to get into.

Which college has a 1 acceptance rate? ›

Among the institutions with the lowest acceptance rate, colleges included, UCLA is the only public university with the lowest acceptance rate while the college with the lowest acceptance rate is Dartmouth College. The rest of the U.S. higher educational institutions with low acceptance rates are privately-owned.

What is the lowest ranked college in the US? ›

The worst-value colleges in the US
University nameEconomic score
1. Berklee College of Music20.9
2. Alabama State University14.4
3. Florida National University14.0
4. Clark Atlanta University13.2
17 more rows
Mar 28, 2023

What is the easiest to go to college for? ›

As the most popular college major since 1980, business encompasses a variety of sub-disciplines, such as finance, accounting, and marketing. It's also considered to be one of the easiest college majors. With a business degree, you could also work in fields like healthcare, human resources, or public administration.

What is the least accepting college? ›

Here is the list of 30 educational institutes with the lowest acceptance rates:
  • Tulane University (USA) ...
  • Northwestern University (USA) ...
  • Cornell University (USA) ...
  • Johns Hopkins University (USA) ...
  • Dartmouth College (USA) ...
  • Duke University (USA) ...
  • Vanderbilt University (USA) ...
  • National University of Singapore (Singapore)
May 13, 2023

What is the easiest thing to go to college for? ›

Business Major. Business isn't just one of the easiest college majors — it's also the most popular major. You'll study core topics like accounting, management, and organizational behavior. You can specialize your skills with upper-level courses in logistics, training and development, or entrepreneurship.

What is the rarest school to get into? ›

1. Stanford University. Topping the list of the hardest school to get into in the world is Stanford.

What college does everyone get into? ›

Top 100 Colleges With the Highest Admission Rates
SchoolCityAdmission Rate
Wayne State CollegeWayne100%
Wilmington UniversityNew Castle100%
Adams State UniversityAlamosa99%
Black Hills State UniversitySpearfish99%
92 more rows
Aug 19, 2022

What is the lowest GPA schools will accept? ›

Unofficially, 2.0 is the lowest GPA accepted into a standard college, so while there's a chance that college admission is possible, it's not likely at more than a few institutions.

What school is #1 in the world? ›

Harvard University

United States|Cambridge (U.S.)

What is the hardest degree to get? ›

What are the hardest degrees in the world? Ranked by Experts
  • Chartered Accountancy.
  • Astrophysics.
  • Quantum Mechanics.
  • Law.
  • Aerospace/ Aeronautical Studies, Engineering.
  • Biomedical Studies, Neurosciences, Biochemistry.
  • Nursing.
  • Dentistry, Medicine.
Dec 16, 2022

What is the hardest major? ›

1) Architecture

In addition to becoming—you guessed it—architects, students who major in this discipline also go on to become interior designers, urban planners, and restoration managers. Given the dual focus on art and science, architecture projects are often incredibly demanding and require high attention to detail.

What is the most accepting college? ›

Colleges with the Highest Acceptance Rates - Top 100
SchoolLocationFall 2021 Acceptance Rate
Academy of Art UniversitySan Francisco, CA100%
Adams State UniversityAlamosa, CO100%
Alliance UniversityNew York, NY100%
Baptist College of FloridaGraceville, FL100%
17 more rows

What is the hardest school to get into in the US? ›

#1 Harvard University

We're sure you won't be surprised to learn that Harvard is currently the hardest college to get into, with an acceptance rate of just 3.19%. Last year, 61,220 students applied to Harvard, but only 1,950 were accepted.

Which GPA is the one colleges look at? ›

Unweighted GPAs are reported on a 4.0 scale and consider all classes equal. Weighted GPAs are reported on a 5.0 scale and consider class difficulty when awarding grades. Colleges consider both when reading your application for admission.

What is the #1 private college in America? ›

Harvard University is a private institution in Cambridge, Massachusetts, just outside of Boston. This Ivy League school is the oldest higher education institution in the country and has the largest endowment of any school in the world.

What is the lowest GPA to stay in college? ›


The most common overall GPA requirement is a 2.0. This means that a student's cumulative GPA from all terms, excluding grades received from other institutions, must be at least 2.0 at the end of each semester or quarter.

What is the #1 hardest major? ›

#1 Chemistry

According to the average Grade Point Average of students in the program, Chemistry wins the prize title hardest major. A Chemistry major overlaps somewhat with biology, but chemistry extends beyond living things.

What is the easiest degree to get a first in? ›

The Top 10 Easiest University or College Majors
  • Media and Communications. ...
  • Photography. ...
  • Creative Writing. ...
  • Liberal Arts. ...
  • Sports Studies. ...
  • Health. ...
  • Linguistics. ...
  • Religious Studies. Religious studies might be a straightforward choice as a major if religious movements and philosophies are of deep interest to you.
Oct 23, 2022

What are some easy majors that pay well? ›

8 Easy Degrees That Pay Well
  • Business Administration. Business administration is one major that is usually considered “easy.” Some programs will also only take 3 years to finish! ...
  • English. ...
  • Human Resources. ...
  • Criminal Justice. ...
  • Marketing. ...
  • Supply Chain Management. ...
  • Psychology. ...
  • Communication.
Dec 22, 2022

What college degrees are not worth getting? ›

20 Most Useless College Degrees 2023
  • Useful Degrees That Might Interest You. Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below. ...
  • Advertising. ...
  • Anthropology And Archeology. ...
  • Art history. ...
  • Communications. ...
  • Computer Science. ...
  • Creative Writing. ...
  • Criminal Justice.

What do most colleges look for when accepting students? ›

Good grades, a challenging high school curriculum, standardized test scores, extracurriculars, and a strong essay are a few key factors admissions officers assess. Each university may emphasize different elements of the application process.

Why do colleges not accept you? ›

Failure to meet high GPA or test score standards. Insufficient academic rigor. Lack of demonstrated interest. Application essay errors.

What is the easiest degree to obtain online? ›

Read on as we highlight the easiest online degrees.
  1. Anthropology. Anthropology not only offers you a less stressful academic pathway, but allows you to hone effective communication and research skills. ...
  2. Business Administration. ...
  3. Communications. ...
  4. Creative Writing. ...
  5. Criminal Justice. ...
  6. Education. ...
  7. English. ...
  8. Health Sciences.

What is the quickest degree to get? ›

Quick Degrees That Pay Well Table of Contents
  • Air Traffic Control.
  • Software Development.
  • Electrical Engineering.
  • Construction Project Management.
  • Computer Programming.
  • Radiation Therapy.
  • Nuclear Science Technology.
  • Web Development.

What is the fastest degree to get online? ›

25 Fast Online Degrees and Programs
  • Fire Science.
  • Forensics and CSI.
  • Legal Studies.
  • Liberal Arts and Humanities.
  • Marketing.
  • Nursing.
  • Nutrition.
  • Psychology.

What's the hardest college to get into right now? ›

Stanford University is one of the hardest colleges to get into in the US. Every year, thousands of hopeful students apply here, and a small handful gets in — as few as 4%. According to the university's website, it says their admissions team practises a holistic approach.

What is the lowest GPA to get into Harvard? ›

You should also have a 4.18 GPA or higher. If your GPA is lower than this, you need to compensate with a higher SAT/ACT score. For a school as selective as Harvard, you'll also need to impress them with the rest of your application. We'll cover those details next.

What is the lowest GPA student accepted to Harvard? ›

We do not have a minimum GPA (grade point average). The admissions committee reviews each application holistically and each component of the application is carefully reviewed with the knowledge that successful HDS students possess strengths in different areas.

What major requires the lowest GPA? ›

Science majors tend to have lower GPAs on average, with chemistry being the major with the lowest average GPA. Meanwhile, education majors earn the highest GPAs on average.

Where the top 1% send their kids to school? ›

Elite colleges that enroll the highest percentage of low- and middle-income students
  • Amherst College. 12.0.
  • University of Rochester. 11.7.
  • Harvard University. 11.7.
  • University of Southern California. 11.6.
  • Cooper Union. 11.4.
  • Williams College. 11.2.
  • Columbia University. 11.1.
  • Macalester College.
Jan 18, 2017

What is the rarest school in the world? ›

Institut Le Rosey
HeadmasterKim Kovacevic
14 more rows

Which college ranking is most accurate? ›

The U.S. News college rankings are viewed as the gold standard of college ranking lists. Its list is the most well-known and referenced.

What is the hardest degree in the medical field? ›

Healthcare Science is considered one of the most challenging and toughest courses in India. It begins with higher secondary education, and then the challenge is to clear the entrance exam to get into a reputed MBBS college in India.

What is the hardest class at Harvard? ›

Math 55 is just as infamous for its attrition rate as it is for its difficulty. Most sources like to cite the 1970 class, which began with 75 students and — between the advanced nature of the material and the time-constraints under which students had to work — ended with barely 20.

Is nursing one of the hardest degrees? ›

Obtaining a nursing degree is difficult. There's no arguing it. Whether it's the “hardest” degree to obtain or not is irrelevant. It is a demanding curriculum and it requires more than a little sacrifice and dedication to secure certification.

Is there a college with a 99% acceptance rate? ›

The University of Maine at Presque Isle: 99% acceptance rate. Alabama State University: 98.9% acceptance rate. University of Saint Francis-Fort Wayne: 98.98% acceptance rate.

Is a 100 percent acceptance rate good? ›

If a school has a 100% acceptance rate it means that anyone who meets basic criteria and applies will get in. Schools with an acceptance rate of 50% will accept half of all college applicants. Often Ivy League schools have lower acceptance rates while schools such as community colleges may have higher acceptance rates.

What University sends out 100 acceptance letters by mistake? ›

According to CNN, the university mistakenly sent out 205 acceptance letters to current applicants because of a "technical error." Another 3,930 people who applied over the last year also received the "erroneous email" that told them they had been accepted.

What college has 99 acceptance rate? ›

US Colleges with the Highest Acceptance Rates
School NameStateAcceptance Rate
Northeastern State UniversityOklahoma99%
University of Saint Francis-Fort WayneIndiana99%
Middle Georgia State UniversityGeorgia99%
Dickinson State UniversityNorth Dakota99%
54 more rows

What GPA do you need to get into Harvard? ›

The GPA requirements for Harvard University are between 3.9 to 4.1. You will need an incredibly high GPA and will likely be graduating at the top of their class in order to get into Harvard University.

What school requires the lowest GPA? ›

In addition, the universities accept low GPA or no minimum GPA as part of the admission requirements.
  • Albany State University. ...
  • American InterContinental University. ...
  • Arkansas State University. ...
  • Arkansas Tech University. ...
  • Capella University. ...
  • Colorado Technical University. ...
  • East Coast Polytechnic Institute University.
Feb 5, 2023

What college has the best dorms? ›

The Princeton Review recently released its 2022 ranking of the best college dorms, based on student ratings of their dorms and residence halls. Taking the top spot is Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri.

Does acceptance rate really matter? ›

The lower the acceptance rate, the more difficult it will be to get into that university. When short-listing colleges to apply to, think of these as your 'reach' colleges and make sure you only have a few of them on your list, along with safety and match schools.

What is an impressive acceptance rate? ›

Although the hardest colleges to get into have less than a 10% acceptance rate, Pew Research Center found that over half of U.S. universities have an admissions rate of 67% or higher. You might hear a lot about competitive schools with acceptance rates of 5-20%.

Can a college reject you after acceptance? ›

Yes, colleges can revoke an acceptance offer any time, including after admitted students put down their deposit. Most revoked admission offers occur between May 1 and the start of the fall semester.

Can I decline a university I got accepted to? ›

Can you reject a college after accepting? Certainly! From the day you accept your acceptance offer to the day of your graduation, you can choose to no longer attend the university you're currently at. This is even true for those who accept an early decision acceptance offer, which are usually binding.

Do colleges send you a rejection letter? ›

1. Do Colleges Give Rejection Letters? Yes, colleges send rejection notices to students who weren't admitted.

What is the hardest school to get into acceptance rate? ›

Top 10 Hardest Colleges to Get Into
  1. Harvard. Cambridge, MA. 3.19%
  2. Columbia. New York, NY. 3.73%
  3. Caltech. Pasadena, CA. 3.92%*
  4. Stanford. Stanford, CA. 3.95%*
  5. MIT. Cambridge, MA. 3.96%
  6. Princeton. Princeton, NJ. 4.38%*
  7. Yale. New Haven, CT. 4.47%
  8. Brown. Providence, RI. 5.03%

What has the highest acceptance rate? ›

Top 100 - Colleges with Highest Acceptance Rates for 2023
City University of Seattle Bellevue, Washington100%
Utah Valley University Orem, Utah100%
University of Maryland University College Adelphi, Maryland100%
Wilmington University New Castle, Delaware99.9%
Nyack College Nyack, New York99.8%
5 more rows

What is considered a low acceptance rate? ›

In general, schools with low acceptance rates (lower than 10 percent) are more selective or have high standards, or have tens of thousands of students applying for relatively few spots. This can be good if you seek a more rigorous academic program or want to be part of a more competitive and prestigious student body.


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