While many of America’s universities and colleges have a reputation for skewing to the left politically, just like the youth vote, there are some out there that are bastions of right-of-center thought. Students seeking to study with the intellectual leaders of the right and to pursue knowledge in a culture of conservative values should check out these leading colleges.
Top Academic Universities
"U.S. News and World Report" has become a major arbiter of academic quality, and a few of the national research universities that it ranks as top-tier also have a strong conservative ethos. The most highly ranked of these at 58th is Southern Methodist University in University Park, Texas, which is one of only 76 universities to have an endowment above $1 billion. The UK’s "Economist" magazine ranks its business college No. 1 for best places to network. The famous football school, Texas A&M University, follows at 65th. A&M is home to the George Bush Presidential Library and consistently ranks in the top 10 schools for recruiting National Merit Scholars. Rounding out the top conservative universities at 68th is Mormon school Brigham Young University, the largest religious university in the U.S. BYU has also been ranked No. 1 as a university offering the “Best Value for the Money” by "The Princeton Review."
Top Liberal Arts Colleges
Wheaton College is a whimsical liberal arts college 30 minutes west of Chicago in the suburb of Wheaton, which boasts more churches per square mile than any other town in the U.S. The college also houses a Billy Graham Museum complete with a tunnel of hellfire as well as the original wardrobe that inspired C.S. Lewis’ classic children’s novel, “The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe.” Wheaton College is also the only conservative national liberal arts college to crack the " U.S. News and World Report" top tier. However, when it comes to regional liberal arts colleges, "U.S. News" places Rhode Island's Catholic Providence College as 4th in the North. Providence requires all students to take a unique two-year core program, “Development of Western Civilization,” which meets five days a week. Students seeking a very traditional approach to college might seek out three highly regarded Catholic “Great Books” schools, Thomas Aquinas College in California, Thomas More College in New Hampshire, and the University of Dallas, Texas.
The military promotes values of personal responsibility, hard work, and patriotism that are synonymous with conservative beliefs, and three of its institutes of higher education, the United States Naval Academy, the United States Military Academy, and the United States Air Force Academy rank neck-and-neck with elite national liberal arts colleges like Wesleyan. Admission to all three academies is extremely competitive.
Schools That Attract Homeschoolers
For students who are transitioning from the unique experience of homeschooling, Patrick Henry College outside Washington, D.C. is your Harvard. Founded in 2000, the school has gained national attention for placing students in top internships and for besting Oxford University’s debate team on more than one occasion. Be warned, however, that the school is creationist and does not emphasize science. For students seeking coveted STEM degrees, Grove City College in Pennsylvania is a better bet. In addition to strong programs in engineering and information technology, it has an internationally recognized program in Austrian economics, and in keeping with this, does not accept federal loans for tuition. If the $22,000 per year tuition-and-board is too steep for you, try out the College of the Ozarks in Point Lookout, Missouri. This school is, like the famous Cooper Union, literally free, offering a unique “work-study” program of 15 hours per week that “pays” the student’s room and board. "U.S. News" ranks it 9th for regional colleges in the Midwest.
Laura Holland Fletcher has graduate level training in ESL, linguistics and the teaching of writing. She taught ESL and college writing for more than 10 years in both the US and Asia. She also writes for local and national magazines that cover legal, educational and social justice issues.