Principia is not for everyone – literally. The school restricts enrollment to practicing Christian Scientists (applicants are asked to submit references attesting to their church attendance). But those who fit the bill have an opportunity to attend one of the most affordable private liberal arts colleges in the country, and one where 97% of undergraduates get scholarships that further cut the cost of a degree. In fact, the school has the lowest estimated net price of a degree in MONEY’s top 50.
Because of its religious nature, Principia is not especially diverse, although about 15% of students come from outside the U.S. Religious restrictions and small town locale also make the social life comparatively sedate. But there are plenty of clubs and activities on campus. For the annual “Lowrey House Rumpus,” for example, students fill a pool with goop and invite the campus community to dive in.
Principia’s location on bluffs overlooking the Mississippi River and English village-style (some say Hogwarts-like) architecture have earned the campus designation as a National Historic Landmark.