These Are The 10 Best Small Colleges In Georgia

by Chris Kolmar
Rankings - 3 years ago

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You know there are a ton of great reasons to go to a small college — the opportunity to work with a smaller number of people, a chance to get a great education while remaining close to home, and of course, cost. After all, who wants to rack up huge student loans to get a degree that’s just about as valuable as one from a large institution?

But what small college in Georgia is the best of all?

We at Zippia decided to take a look at the data on the 20 institutions of higher learning in the Peach State to determine which programs offer the best all around experience for students. After analyzing the numbers, we sorted the schools by enrollment, limiting our report to institutions with under 2,000 students.

After the dust settled, we’re left with this set of the top small colleges or universities in Georgia:

  1. Life University
  2. Thomas University
  3. Young Harris College
  4. Toccoa Falls College
  5. LaGrange College
  6. Oglethorpe University
  7. Piedmont College
  8. Spelman College
  9. Covenant College
  10. College of Coastal Georgia

If you go to one of these schools, chances are, you’re not surprised. After all, you know how great you have it.

But for the rest of you — keep reading and we’ll get to just why these schools have some of the best experiences Georgia has to offer.

For more GA reading, check out:

How We Determined The Best Small Colleges In Georgia

At its core, economics is the study of choices made under constraints. When it came to identifying the best small schools we wanted to approach the ranking like an economics major would — that is, by looking at data on how individual schools performed and comparing them to one another.

What better way to optimize your choice?

So with that mind, we looked at the following data from the NCES (National Center For Education Statistics) and College Scorecard data from to understand what small schools offer the best career opportunities:

  • Career Results
    • Mean Earnings After 6 Years
    • Mean Earnings After 10 Years
    • Ratio of people working to not working after 10 years
  • School Performance
    • Admissions Rate (More selective the better)
    • Graduation Rate
    • Average Cost Of Attendance (Lower is better)
    • Average amount of debt

It’s hard to argue with a selective school that produces strong earning potential for your career.

After we had this data, we looked at the 20 institutions of higher learning in Georgia which had populations under 2,000 students. We then ranked each of these schools from 1 to 20 for each of the criteria above with 1 being the best in any given criteria.

Next, we averaged the ranks for each school to create a “Quality Index”. The school with the best score on the “Quality Index”, Life University, earned the distinction of being the ‘Best Small College’ in Georgia.

Any ties went to the larger school.

1. Life University

Life University, Georgia
Enrollment: 314

This small institution in Marietta, GA is the best small college in the state, when you look at the unbiased data.

Life University graduates earn the highest salaries in the state for all small colleges — even a decade after graduation. Its 57% admission rate means the college is exclusive (a good sign), and the cost is the 8th lowest, meaning you get a big bang for your buck.

2. Thomas University

Thomas University, Georgia
Enrollment: 546

Located in Thomasville, Thomas University is one of many private colleges to make this list. What makes it so great here?

For starters, is the 5th lowest cost small college in the state. The admission rate is very low, and students don’t come out with much debt (5th lowest in the state of all small colleges we measured).

3. Young Harris College

Young Harris College, Georgia
Enrollment: 620

Most people in the state know Young Harris College as being a top-notch program. But this small, private college in Young Harris isn’t just a great place for current students, but former students too.

Young Harris College’s graduation rate of 46% is the 10th highest in Georgia, which is certainly something to brag about. So is an admission rate of 50%, also one of the best in the state.

4. Toccoa Falls College

Toccoa Falls College, Georgia
Enrollment: 900

Toccoa Falls College in Toccoa Falls gets high marks for a low admission rate and a high graduation rate. Additionally, for those lucky enough to get in, the employment rate for graduates after 10 years is 2nd best in the state.

5. Lagrange College

Lagrange College, Georgia
Enrollment: 876

If you want up-close personal attention at a private institution, than it’d be hard to beat LaGrange College, located in Lagrange.

Besides high marks in several categories, what really stands out is the high graduation rate.

6. Oglethorpe University

Oglethorpe University, Georgia
Enrollment: 1,169

This private college in Atlanta gets high marks for employment rate of its graduates (7th best of small college in GA), and for post-graduation earnings, where former students command the 5th highest incomes in the state.

7. Piedmont College

Piedmont College, Georgia
Enrollment: 1,026

Only 57% of the young minds who apply to Piedmont College are accepted, which is a sign of greatness. After all, when you turn so many students away, that means there’s high demand. In addition, graduates earn the 9th highest salaries.

Piedmont College also has the 8th highest graduation rate of all small colleges in Georgia.

This private school is located in Demorest.

8. Spelman College

Spelman College, Georgia
Enrollment: 1,888

Not only is Spelman College in one of the prettiest parts of Georgia, its students get the benefit of several leading categories. For instance, if you’re lucky enough to be accepted here, it’s almost a guarantee you’ll graduate (1st of all small colleges in the state).

And the whole reason you go to college is to earn the big bucks, right? Spelman College grads command the 6th highest salaries in the state.

9. Covenant College

Covenant College, Georgia
Enrollment: 1,074

It’s hard to do better than little Covenant College, located in Lookout Mountain. Students will appreciate the high graduation rate, lower-than-average costs and high salaries that graduates earn.

10. College Of Coastal Georgia

College Of Coastal Georgia, Georgia
Enrollment: 1,912

College of Coastal Georgia is one of the public schools to make this list. Students come out with the least amount of debt of all the small schools we looked at, and that probably has something to do with the cost (best in the state).

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