Get Out of the City: 20 Rural Colleges and Universities

Attending college in a rural setting, where all activities seem to revolve around the school and its students, can give students a true college experience. Rural college campuses may also offer access to outdoor recreational activities while being located within easy driving distance of a larger metropolitan area for the occasional excursion.

Whether you’re tired of big-city life or just love the country, earning a bachelor’s degree or starting graduate school at one of these rural colleges promises to be unforgettable. Check out these 20 rural schools in the U.S., and start researching your degree program.

20 Rural Colleges and Universities

  1. Washington and Lee University: Washington and Lee University is located in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. This area boasts many hiking and biking trails, and it’s within driving distance of Washington, DC and Richmond.
  2. Slippery Rock University: Slippery Rock University is situated in picturesque Butler County, PA, and is within driving distance of Pittsburgh. This Pennsylvania campus, which was founded in 1889, is located in a gorgeous, historic rural setting.
  3. Colby College: Colby College is located in the small town of Waterville, Maine. Students have access to some of the nicest ski slopes in the Northeast, and some of the larger cultural centers of New England are within driving distance.
  4. Appalachian State University: Appalachian State University is situated in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. Located in Boone, it is within easy driving distance of Charlotte and Raleigh, and the beaches of North Carolina are only a little further away.
  5. Middlebury College: Located in Vermont, Middlebury College is in the middle of beautiful, rural New England, but within driving distance of cultural centers such as Manchester and Boston.
  6. Plymouth State University: Plymouth State University is located near Lake Winnipesaukee, in Plymouth, New Hampshire. Skiing and water sports are popular at this small school in the middle of New England, and students can take a drive to Manchester or Boston for their cultural activities.
  7. University of Montana Western: Montana is Big Sky Country, and the University of Montana Western is in the middle of it. Situated in the small town of Dillon, Montana, University of Montana Western is close to national parks and recreation activities, yet within driving distance to the cities of Butte and Missoula.
  8. University of Idaho: The University of Idaho is a larger school, but is located in the rural area of Moscow, Idaho. Excellent ski slopes are nearby, as are hiking and biking trails, and pleasant fishing spots.
  9. Southwestern University: Southwestern University is in rural Texas near horse trails, lakes for fishing and boating, and plenty of history to explore. Yet it is close to the culture and nightlife of Dallas and San Antonio.
  10. Southwest Minnesota State University: Southwest Minnesota State is part of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities System. Located in rural Marshall, yet near Minneapolis, the school is close to lakes, and winter sports are very popular.
  11. University of Wisconsin Stout: University of Wisconsin Stout is a part of the University of Wisconsin system, but is located in rural Menomonie, Wisconsin. Students have a large number of recreational options, with Lake Menomin nearby and Minneapolis just down the road.
  12. Indiana University of Pennsylvania: Located in Indiana County, Pennsylvania, Indiana University of Pennsylvania offers students a small-town atmosphere and Lake Erie’s recreational opportunities, but also Pittsburgh’s lively cultural centers.
  13. Longwood University: Longwood University is situated in the small town of Farmville, Virginia. Students enjoy the college town vibe. This school is within driving distance of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Richmond, and Virginia Beach.
  14. Emory and Henry College: Emory and Henry College is very small, with about 1,000 students. Located in the mountain foothills of Southwestern Virginia, the school is near Roanoke.
  15. Western New Mexico University: Founded in 1893, Western New Mexico University is located in Silver City, New Mexico, where students can enjoy the old west while earning their degrees.
  16. University of Mississippi: The University of Mississippi, “Ole Miss,” offers both tradition and history. Founded in 1848, the school is located in the small college town of Oxford.
  17. Shepherd University: Shepherd University calls Shepherdstown, West Virginia home. This rural college town of less than 5,000 has a thriving artist community and many small shops and restaurants. White water rafting and kayaking in the nearby rivers is popular.
  18. Frostburg State University: Frostburg State University is located in the rural mountains of Western Maryland, not far from West Virginia University. Hiking, fishing, and boating are popular, and so are day trips to Pittsburgh.
  19. Washington College: Washington College is one of the oldest colleges in the country–George Washington gave permission for his name to be used for the school. The school is located in rural Maryland, close to Maryland’s beaches, and Washington, DC.
  20. University of Virginia’s College at Wise: The University of Virginia’s College at Wise is located in the far southwest corner of Virginia. Mountain food, mountain sports, and mountain music are plentiful in the small town of Wise.

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