Choosing Your Path: A Guide to Midwest Colleges for Gen Z

If you’re considering one of the many premiere Midwest colleges, check out this guide to figuring out which college is the right fit for you.

Deciding on the best college is often one of the first large-scale decisions you will make before stepping into adult life. There are so many factors to consider when selecting a university. Factors such as the academic qualifications of the institution, teaching practices and methodology are critical. Then there is student feedback on happiness, accommodation requirements throughout the qualification, and part-time job opportunities. And don’t forget the cost of returning home for holidays and the general cost of living.

There are so many reasons why you should consider Midwest colleges! Many institutions receive accolades for their teaching excellence and are renowned for their academic programs.

The Midwest United States is much more affordable, with lower living costs and cheaper accommodations. This is super important, especially if you are embarking on more extended degree programs and want to keep your debt down while maintaining your lifestyle. The Midwest offers a small-town experience. And you can feel safe while still giving you access to big-city life, which is a huge benefit.

There are many college institutions and regional universities to choose from. There are an abundance of small liberal arts colleges and awesome mainstream public universities. Similarly, there are great options for university-owned research facilities throughout the Midwest. Alum networks are robust and offer current students excellent networking opportunities within their network.

Students in Midwest colleges often share that the college experience is close-knit and fosters a great sense of community. The abundance of nature and recreational activities leads to an excellent quality of life. The Midwest experiences four strong seasons, so you can enjoy each season’s beauty.

The Midwest has a robust job economy and is home to multiple strong sectors such as education, healthcare, manufacturing, food production, agriculture, and technology. There are great internship and post-graduate job opportunities within these markets.

Now, let’s check out the top colleges in each Midwest state!


Iowa is home to several world-class educational institutions, such as Iowa State University, University of Iowa, and Grinnell College.

Universities in Iowa feature smaller class sizes. Of course, this fact fosters a great sense of community, and close-knit campuses cultivate a personalized college experience.

The cost of tuition fluctuates between the three institutions, with Grinnell costing the most at around $73k per year. On the other hand, Iowa State University costs only $7k. Grinnell offers all-inclusive pricing, including campus accommodations and board. Others allow for flexibility on accommodation and board options, which could dramatically lower your costs.


Just for the record, Kansas was cool before Taylor Swift, OK? The rest of the country is just catching up. Kansas is home to three fantastic universities: Kansas State, University of Kansas, and Wichita State University.

These three establishments should be at the top of your list if you’re looking for an excellent university at a reasonable cost. Each university has an annual tuition fee that falls around $10-11k.

Kansas has enormous potential for internship opportunities alongside a robust post-graduate job market, which is another excellent perk.

As you would imagine, all the campuses are stunning, and you can enjoy the full four seasons of Kansas life.

Once you graduate, you just might become a lifelong Kansas sports fan, as the city lives for sporting events and tailgates.


Who wouldn’t want to attend university in the Land of 1000 Lakes? As you would expect, Minnesota is perfect for those who enjoy outdoor recreational activities. However, Minnesota’s winter season is famous for its freezing temperatures, so this choice might not be for the faint of heart. Winter sports are definitely a thing, though, so locals embrace the chill and still get outside, no matter the weather!

There are three top university choices in Minnesota: University of Minnesota, Carleton College, and St Olaf College. These three options range between public and private, so annual tuition costs fluctuate between $10k to $60k.

There are strong internship opportunities, too, as Minnesota is home to Target, 3M, General Mills, and the Mayo Clinic.


If you are considering the best regional college education in Missouri, you should consider Washington University in St Louis, the University of Missouri, and Saint Louis University. These are a mix of public and private institutions, and their tuition ranges between $11k and $48k. The state costs are very much in line with other state universities, but the private institutions come in slightly cheaper than other private colleges, which makes it a cost-competitive option.

The campuses for these locations are spread across the state, so a factor that you have to consider is urban vs. small town, as your experience will differ significantly depending on which you choose.


When you think of Nebraska, you might think about wheatfields and cattle; however, you should be thinking of the three top-notch universities in the state: the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Creighton University, and Nebraska Wesleyan University.

Nebraska colleges rank slightly lower in cost than some of their counterparts, with in-state starting at $9k and going up to $44k. For both public and private options, the price is very competitive.

With such an expansive and rural state, all of the campuses are sprawling and stunning.

North Dakota

North Dakota is home to many excellent regional universities: the University of North Dakota, North Dakota State University, and Minot State University. Comparatively, the cost of higher education in North Dakota is substantially cheaper than in other Midwest states, so if budget is an issue, this option is worth carefully considering.

North Dakota is known for its stunning beauty. If hiking and outdoor activities are your passion, put this option at the top of your list!

South Dakota

South Dakota is known for Mount Rushmore, the stunning Badlands, and being a hunting and fishing haven. Choosing a university in a more rural location is great for students who perhaps don’t enjoy an urban environment and would prefer a closer-to-nature education experience.

South Dakota is home to three excellent educational institutions: the University of South Dakota, South Dakota State University, and Augustana University. Like other universities in more rural areas, the tuition rate is significantly lower than other options. With this comes a cheaper cost of living, too, which is a huge benefit for cost-conscious students in the current economic climate.


Wisconsin is well known for its stunning natural beauty, lakes, hunting, comfort food, and football fanatics! It is also home to three excellent educational establishments: the University of Wisconsin Madison, Marquette University, and Beloit College.

The universities range from around $10k to $45k for state and private options. However, each of the campuses is sprawling and beautiful.

Like any Midwest location, Wisconsin can get pretty cold in the winter, which is also compounded by the lake effect, so ensure you are well prepared for the seasonal swings.

Why Should You Attend College in the Midwest?

As you can see, there are many reasons you should consider the Midwest for university options, whether you’re looking for a place to get your undergrad degree or attend graduate school. From smaller and intimate class sizes, exemplary teaching practices, beautiful and scenic campuses, and post-graduate job opportunities to lower living costs.


  • Chris Kane

    Chris Kane is a military veteran and former business owner currently living in the Des Moines, Iowa, metro. Chris is an inveterate entrepreneur and avid web developer who is not shy about sharing his opinions.

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