Riley Heruska
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If your child is a junior or senior in high school, you’re probably spending a great deal of time discussing higher education. There are 176 different colleges in Texas, which can make the application process overwhelming if you don't already have a school in mind.

You’ve heard the big names in Texas universities like UT and Texas A&M, but don’t forget to consider some of the smaller schools with amazing reputations. Here are five colleges that you might not know much about, but are definitely worth considering.

Austin College - Sherman, TX

Okay, I should probably admit that this is my alma mater. Go Roos! However, my praise for this school goes beyond my own personal experience. 

Austin College is a small liberal arts college that values real-world experience and education above everything. Seven out of 10 AC students study abroad in some capacity, and AC encourages every student to pursue a life of commitment and personal growth. Surprisingly, 97 percent of their 2018 graduates completed their degree in just four years. 

Ranked in the top 100 liberal arts schools in the nation, this is one school that academically-inclined, driven students should not overlook.

Southwestern University - Georgetown, TX

Also in the top 100 liberal art schools, Southwestern University is an excellent choice for high school graduates seeking a beautiful campus with a rich culture. Southwestern offers small class sizes, plenty of student engagement opportunities, and challenging academics. More than half of the students travel abroad at some point, and everyone can pick from more than 40 different majors.

An added bonus: The Southwestern University campus is within driving distance of the entertainment in Austin, but it’s removed enough to offer peace and quiet for long nights of studying.

McMurry University - Abilene, TX

When most people list schools in Abilene, they think Abilene Christian University (ACU). However, that’s not the only school in the city.

McMurry University offers a liberal arts education to students of all faiths and backgrounds. With a low student-faculty ratio and many popular majors, including Business and Psychology, this school offers a great deal of opportunity to dedicated students. Maybe that’s why it’s ranked 12 in the 2018 of Best Colleges in Regional Colleges West.

Howard Payne University - Brownwood, TX

With just over 1,000 students enrolled in 2018, Howard Payne University is one of the smallest schools on this list. However, most view its small size as a huge benefit. The school prides itself on offering personalized instruction and opportunities for every student. The pre-law program is one of the best in the state, competing with much larger schools. Their teaching, social work, and business programs are also impressive.

Howard Payne is ranked 13 in Regional Colleges West and is increasingly recognized for academic excellence. If you’ve never thought of visiting Brownwood before, now might be the time.

St. Edward’s University - Austin, TX

This school is a wonderful option for students who love the hip atmosphere in Austin but who don’t want to attend an enormous university like the University of Texas. St. Edward’s is a private institution with around 4,000 students enrolled. The lovely campus offers a beautiful view of Austin, and the academics are highly-ranked.

St. Edward’s University is number 15 in Regional Universities West, and its students continuously distinguish it as a place of learning and growth. The school places great emphasis on service projects and internships, which have direct impacts on students' futures.

Did you attend any of these awesome schools? Let us know in the comments!

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