For a state with relatively low population, Iowa has some excellent colleges and universities. My top picks range from Cornell College with about 1,200 students to the University of Iowa, a large public university nearly 30,000 students. The admissions standards for my top picks vary significantly, so be sure to click through to the profiles for more admissions information. The schools were chosen based on first-year retention rates, four- and six-year graduation rates, notable academic strengths, value, and student engagement. You probably won't be surprised to find Grinnell College on the list, but see all 12 top Iowa colleges to find out who else made the cut.
University of Iowa
Cbenning / Wikimedia Commons
To get a partial sense of what it takes to get into some of Iowa's four-year colleges and universities, I've created side-by-side comparison charts of Iowa SAT scores and Iowa ACT scores for the middle 50% of matriculated students.
If there's another Iowa college that you think deserves to be on the list, use the comment link below to share your recommendations. I'm a firm believer that the "best" college for your interests, goals and personality may have little to do with my own selection criteria.
If you're interested in exploring a larger geographic area than Iowa, check out my picks for the region: Top Midwest Colleges.
National Top Picks: