The Johns Hopkins University

Brief description: JHU is a private research university with four main campuses located in and around Baltimore, Maryland, offers undergraduate and graduate degrees, with undergrad student body of about 5,000.

High Honors: JHU boasts impressive graduate programs in public health, education, engineering, nursing and music & dance. Johns Hopkins Hospital is also a top-ranked hospital in the US.

Worth the Effort: It may be difficult to get accepted to JHU, which admits about 18% of applicants each year, but 96% of freshmen return for sophomore year and 86% of students graduate within four years.

Fun Fact: Students have access to  three museums, a rock climbing wall and many centers for arts and recreation on JHU’s undergraduate campus, plus all the activities and resources in nearby cities of Baltimore and Washington, D.C.

Johns Hopkins

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC)

Brief Description:  Located in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, UNC is the nation’s first public university (and only public university to award degrees in the 1700s) and the flagship member of the North Carolina college system.

High Honors: UNC has been named a best value college by both The Princeton Review and Kiplinger Personal Finance magazine, as well as the 5th Best Public University in US News & World Report’s 2013 Best Colleges guidebook.

Go Heels: UNC’s varsity teams, nicknamed the Tar Heels, compete in 13 men’s and 15 women’s sports, showing particular dominance in men’s basketball, women’s soccer and men’s lacrosse.

Fun Fact: For Fall 2012, UNC offered more than 260 merit-based scholarship opportunities, including the Morehead-Cain and Robertson Scholars Programs. At 48, UNC also boasts the largest number of Rhodes Scholars among public universities.