Like many other elite schools on the list, Yale offers students the opportunity to learn from some extraordinary minds, from Nobel Prize-winning economist Robert Shiller to Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Louise Glück to historian Paul Kennedy. No surprise that it’s also one of the most selective schools in the country. But many aren’t aware that it's also one of the most generous. Yale promises to “meet the full demonstrated financial need” of students and, as a result, the vast majority of students graduate without a penny in student debt.
Although the faculty boasts some of the world’s top scientific researchers, Yale offers students a traditional liberal arts education. There are no specific course requirements, but undergraduates must take courses in a wide variety of subjects and demonstrate strong skills in writing, quantitative reasoning, and foreign language. Yale is also one of six schools tied for second place when it comes to graduation rates: 96% of freshmen make it to commencement.
Much of Yalies’ social life revolves around the “residential college” to which they are assigned, and live in, starting freshman year. But students also form friendships across colleges through activities like a cappella, sports, campus newspapers, volunteer groups, and—for a select group—senior year secret societies, such as Skull and Bones.