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Top 30 Worst Colleges in America (2024)

As students across the United States prepare for higher education, deciding which college or university to attend is essential. Unfortunately, not all institutions are created equal; some have a less-than-stellar reputation. In this article, we’ll be taking a closer look at the 30 worst colleges in America.

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We’ve compiled this list based on several factors, including graduation rates, student loan debt, acceptance rate, and post-graduation employment rates. 

These colleges have consistently underperformed in these areas over the past few years and received negative reviews from current and former students.

It’s important to note that this list is not meant to discourage students from pursuing higher education but rather to inform them of potentially problematic institutions so they can make an informed decision about where to apply. 

By being aware of these schools’ shortcomings, prospective students can save time and money on a less-than-satisfactory college experience.

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Factors that Determine a Good College in America

There are several crucial elements to consider while assessing institutions and choosing the best higher education alternatives. The following are some essential criteria prospective students should consider:

Academic Ranking

Consider the college’s reputation in academic circles, including its rankings, accreditation, faculty credentials, and the caliber of its programs. 

Rates of Graduation

To determine the proportion of students who successfully finish their degree programs within an acceptable time, look at the college’s graduation rates.

Students to Faculty Ratio

Consider the student-to-faculty ratio since it can affect the standard of instruction and the amount of customized attention you get. 

Options for Financial Aid

Take into account the college’s financial assistance and scholarship options. Look into the several sorts of help offered, including loans, work-study opportunities, grants, and scholarships. 

Colleges You Should Avoid Attending in the United States 

Here are the worst colleges in America:

1. DeVry University State

DeVry University State is first on our list of the worst colleges in America. This university, located in Naperville, Illinois, was established in 1931 as DeForest Training School. 

The school has 18,195 students and an undergraduate enrollment of 14,163. This school is one of the worst in America because students graduate with a loan debt of approximately $43,000. 

Also, the school has a low graduation rate of 29%, which is very low compared to its students’ enrollment. 

2. Western International University State: Arizona 

Next on our list of worst American colleges is Western International University. 

Western International University State has recently gained notoriety as one of the worst colleges in America. The university has been criticized for its poor academic standards, high dropout rates, and low graduation rates, leaving students with large amounts of debt and no degree to show for it.

Western International University State has a low graduation rate of 12% and an average graduation student loan debt of $21,228, which could be better. 

This is significantly lower than the national average of 60%. In addition, the university’s retention rate is just 27%, meaning that nearly three-quarters of students drop out before completing their degree.

Despite these alarming figures, Western International University State continues to attract new enrolments due to its aggressive marketing tactics. 

Many students are lured in by promises of a quick and easy degree program that can be completed online.

3. Philander Smith College State: Arkansas

Philander Smith College State: Arkansas has recently been ranked as one of the worst colleges in America. The ranking was based on graduation rates, student retention rates, and post-graduation earnings. 

Despite being a historically black college with a rich history and legacy, Philander Smith College State: Arkansas has struggled to maintain its academic standards.

According to the data collected by the U.S. Department of Education, only 39% of Philander Smith College State: Arkansas students graduate within six years. This is significantly lower than the national average of 60%. 

Additionally, only 52% of students return for their sophomore year, indicating a high dropout rate. Furthermore, Philander Smith College State: Arkansas graduates have an average salary of $28,000 per year, much lower than other similar institutions nationwide.

4. The Art Institute of Atlanta State: Georgia 

In 1949, the Art Institute of Atlanta was established in Dunwoody, Georgia. It is a for-profit art school with a 16% graduation rate and less than 1 1,246 undergraduate students, just 11% of whom finish on time. 

While the average cost of attending this college is $21,000, each student has an average loan debt of $31,656. The alums’ typical beginning wage is predicted to be $35,300 10 years after graduation, which adds to the school’s 18.8% default rate on student loans.

5. Waldorf University State

Various publications named Waldorf University State one of the worst colleges in America. 

This private university, established in 1903 in Forest City, Iowa, has received criticism for its high tuition and low graduation rates. 

According to College Factual, only 29% of Waldorf students graduate within six years, significantly lower than the national average.

In addition to low graduation rates, Waldorf University State has been criticized for its lack of diversity on campus. 

The student body is predominantly white, with very few students from other ethnic backgrounds. This lack of diversity can make it difficult for some students to feel included and may contribute to a less-than-ideal learning environment. 

Furthermore, the university’s location in rural Iowa may limit opportunities for internships or networking with professionals outside the immediate area. 

Despite having a typical beginning wage of $37,800, university graduates have a debt payback default rate of roughly 9.7%. Note the college has an undergraduate student enrollment of 2,600.

6. University of the Southwest State: New Mexico

The University of the South West was founded as a private Christian university in 1962 in Hobbs, New Mexico. About 441 undergraduates have enrolled, and the total number of students is slightly over 1000.

This is not surprising as the school only accepts a few students. It has an acceptance rate of 45%. Attendance costs $27,626, and the graduation rate is 20%. 

Students usually leave the school with an average loan debt of $23,112 and end up earning $36,200 as a salary after six years of graduation. About 8.6% defer on repaying their loans. 

7. Mayville State University State

Among the colleges students should avoid is Mayville State University. Mayville State University is an American college established in 1889 in North Dakota. It has a low % graduation rate of 31% and 1184 undergraduate student enrollment. 

The average cost of attending this college is $19,164 and $22,061 for in-state and out-of-state students.

The good thing about the school is that graduate students get employed after two years of graduation with an average starting salary of $39,300 after six years. 

8. New England College State: New Hampshire 

New England College State is a private liberal arts college established in 1946 in Henniker, New Hampshire. The school has a total undergraduate student enrollment of 2,800 students. 

According to a recent survey, New Hampshire’s New England College State has been ranked as the worst college in America.

The survey, which considered graduation rate, student debt, and post-graduation employment rates, showed that New England College State performed poorly across the board.

With a graduation rate of just 38% and an average student debt of $49,000, it’s no surprise that New England College State was ranked at the bottom of the list.

Additionally, only 38% of graduates from this college can find jobs within six months of graduating. These statistics paint a worrying picture for students considering attending this institution.

While it is important to note that every college has its strengths and weaknesses, these rankings should serve as a warning to prospective students. It is crucial to research colleges thoroughly before deciding where to attend.

9. Alabama State University State

Next on our list of worst colleges in America to attend is Alabama State University State. This college is a historically black university founded in 1867 in Montgomery, Alabama. The school has an undergraduate enrollment of 5,116, a 98% acceptance rate, and a low % graduation rate of 21%. 

We ranked this college as one of the worst American Colleges because its students graduate with an average student loan of $32,637, while the median starting income after six years of graduation is $27,700.

10. The University of Maine at Augusta State

The University of Maine at Augusta (UMA) is a public university established in 1965 in Augusta, Maine. It is part of the University of Maine System. It offers a range of undergraduate and graduate programs in various fields of study, including business, education, liberal arts, social sciences, and more.

UMA focuses on providing accessible education for both traditional and non-traditional students, offering online and on-campus courses.

The school has a total student enrollment of 6,000 and a 30% graduation rate, which is low compared to other universities. 

The university costs $20,968 and $32,138 for in-state and out-of-state students, respectively. This school is among the worst in America because students graduate with an average loan debt of $23,896. The only exciting thing about the University of Maine is that 80% of graduates get employed after two years.

11. Coppin State University State

Coppin State University State is one of the worst colleges in America students should avoid. The university is a historically black school founded in 1900 in Baltimore, Maryland.

It had a low graduation rate of 20%, acceptance rate of 38%, and undergraduate student enrollment of 2,383.  

The university costs $23,805 and $30,202 for in-state and out-of-state students, respectively. 

12. South Carolina University in Aiken

Another public institution is located here, with an admittance rate of more than 50% and a graduation rate of 40%.

There are 3,280 students enrolled at the public University of South Carolina in Aiken. This public university is a component of the University of South Carolina System in Aiken, South Carolina.

The University of South Carolina’s graduation rate is 40%. Graduates at USC Aiken earn $41,000 on average in their first year, with an annual cost of $18,500.

University of South Carolina at Aiken students bemoan the community’s lack of activity. They also lament the lack of employment opportunities in the town, primarily made up of retirees, when they graduate.

13. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

The graduation rate at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute is 86%. The school has strict rules that restrict free expression.

On campus at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, flyer distribution is not permitted by students. Before handing out buttons or brochures on the campus walkways, they must obtain permission from the school.

Students at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute are notorious for being disciplined for speaking to the media about its harsh standards. This institution is among the worst to attend, so don’t be persuaded by its graduation rate.

14. Florida Memorial University

In Live Oak, Florida, Florida Memorial University was founded in 1879 as the Florida Baptist Institute. Currently, the historically black private institution is situated in Miami, Florida.

There are 1,800 students enrolled at the university, and its graduation rate is 32%. The average cost of attendance at this university is over $22,000 a year, and the average student loan debt after graduation is over $30,000.

15. Grambling State University

One of the worst universities in the country is Grambling State University. The university, a public institution in Grambling, Louisiana, was founded in 1901.

The University in Louisiana has approximately 5,000 enrolled students and a 37% graduation rate. The tuition at Grambling State University is $17,489 per year.

The typical debt of Grambling State University graduates is above $25,000. After graduating, university students who found employment had an average beginning salary of $43,000.

16. Columbia College Hollywood

Columbia College Hollywood is the next school on our list of the worst colleges in America. The private college Columbia College Hollywood was founded in 1952 in Los Angeles, California.

The film school Columbia College Hollywood is not Grambling State University. After graduating from Columbia College Hollywood, students have substantial debt. At Columbia College Hollywood, the loan default rate is greater, and it might be challenging for graduates to find work.

17. Montevallo University

The institution of Montevallo is a public institution in Montevallo, Alabama that was founded in 1896.

There are 2,600 students enrolled at the University of Montevallo at the moment. The institution is a member of the Council of public liberal arts colleges and the only public liberal arts college in the state.

The University of Montevallo’s graduation rate is 49%, while 61% of applicants are accepted. This indicates that less than 50% of students graduate from the university, while more than half of applicants get taken.

The average debt of this university’s graduates is above $25,000, while their beginning salaries are $38300 on average. The annual fee for students living in the state is $22,000, while it is $35,000 for those who do not.

18. District of Columbia University

The institution of the District of Columbia is a public historically black institution in Washington, D.C., established in 1851.

Over 3,700 students are enrolled at the University of the District of Columbia as of the 2018 fall semester. The University of the District of Columbia has an unknown admission rate, although it has a 10% graduation rate.

In-state students must pay $23,000, and out-of-state students must pay $29,000 to attend this university. Over $22,000 in debt is typical for University of the District of Columbia graduates.

19. Shaw College

One of the worst universities in the country is Shaw University. The university is a private, historically black Baptist institution in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Only 15% of students graduate from Shaw University. Shaw University graduates may expect to start with an annual salary of $36,900. Shaw University’s tuition is more than $24,000, and students leave with an average debt of $28,000.

20. California State University

One of the worst universities in the country is California State University, Los Angeles.

Recent news stories have focused on this institution’s free speech policies. According to the allegation, the administration levies a tax on contentious speech.

21. Black Hills State University

Due to its negative return on investment of $24,000, Black Hills State University was ranked as the 12th worst university in the country.

The price to attend Black Hills State University is relatively high. At Black Hills State University, a bachelor’s degree costs $72,400 to complete. Black Hills State University graduates often have over $25,000 in student debts.

22. Nazarene Bible College

The private Nazarene Bible College in Colorado Springs was established in 1964 and granted its charter in 1967.

Over 1,300 students are enrolled at the school, a Nazarene bible college. Nazarene Bible College has a graduation rate of 14%, and as of the time this article was written, it was unknown what percentage of applicants were accepted.

If earning a Philosophy degree interests you, Nazarene Bible College is your ideal institution. However, Nazarene Bible College alums have trouble finding employment as philosophy professors at colleges.

23. Mount Sierra University

The following school on our list of the worst in America is Mt. Sierra College. The facility was situated in the California city of Monrovia. Mt. Sierra College shut down on June 24, 2019; hence “Was” is used.

The institution has been around for 29 years, and as of 2019, it enrolled between 200 and 500 students.

24. California State University

Another California State University is included in our ranking of the worst universities in the country.

Among the 23 institutions that make up the California State University System, California State University, Long Beach has the second-largest campus. The university is on our list because it forbids racial speech in the classroom.

California State University, Long Beach students cannot speak out against racial injustice. As a result, California State University, Long Beach, is listed on our list of universities that don’t allow free expression.

25. Georgetown University

A private research university founded in 1789, Georgetown University is situated in the Georgetown neighborhood of Washington, D.C.

The university is on our list of the worst colleges and is one of the most selective in the country.

One of the best private universities in the U.S. is Georgetown University. Georgetown University boasts a 94% graduation rate and provides the top legal and medical courses.

Georgetown University likewise forbade students from exercising their right to free expression, as is California State University Long Beach. The institution blocked students who intended to campaign for American Senator Bernie Sanders.

Georgetown University asserted that because the students were free from paying taxes, they had to stop them.

26. Stratford University

Next on our list of worst universities in America is Stratford University. Private Stratford University was founded in 1976 and closes in September.

The university’s graduation rate was 29%, and tuition was typically $25,000 yearly. Stratford University provided students with a part-time curriculum until it closed.

27. Fayetteville State University

Another historically black public university may be found in Fayetteville, North Carolina. This university was founded in 1867 and had 6,000 students enrolled as of the fall 2017 semester.

At Fayetteville State University, the graduation rate is now 51%, and the typical starting salary for graduates is $38,000. This university is one of the bad universities in America students should avoid.

28. Lindsey Wilson University

Private Lindsey Wilson College was founded in 1903 in Columbia, Kentucky. The average college attendance cost is approximately $34,000, and the graduation rate is 37%.

This college’s graduates had an average beginning income of $38,000 and average student debt of $21,000.

29. Saint Augustine’s University 

Saint Augustine’s University is another college that made it to our list of worst colleges in America. This private, historically black college was established in 1867 in North Carolina. 

The school has a total student enrollment of 974, a low graduation rate of 26%, and an average student loan debt of $22,500. This is bad because graduates from colleges who get employed earn a median starting salary of $21,500 when they have a deficit of $22,500 to pay. 

Regarding the cost of studying, attending this college is $7,692, and $17,890 for in-state students is $7,692 and out-of-state students, respectively. 

30. Morris College

Morris College is another historically black Baptist college on our list. The college has a 30% graduation rate in Sumter, South Carolina.

Morris College has a yearly tuition rate of around $20,000; its graduates leave with an average debt of $26,000.

Read Also: 20 Oldest Universities In The World – Shoreloop USA

How Do I Avoid Choosing Any of the Worst American Colleges?

To avoid choosing the worst college, consider the following strategies:

Thoroughly Researching College Options:

Conduct comprehensive research on potential colleges. Look into their academic programs, faculty qualifications, accreditation, graduation rates, and student satisfaction. Utilize college websites, official publications, and reputable resources to gather information and compare different institutions.

Visiting Campuses and Attending Open Houses:

Plan campus visits to get a firsthand experience of the college environment. Attend open houses, information sessions, and campus tours to interact with faculty, staff, and current students. This will allow you to assess the campus culture, facilities, resources, and academic support available.

Reviewing College Rankings and Reviews:

Refer to reputable college rankings and reviews from trusted sources. These evaluations consider academic quality, student satisfaction, financial aid, and career outcomes.

However, it’s essential to critically evaluate rankings and consider multiple sources to gain a comprehensive understanding.

Considering Accreditation:

Ensure that recognized accrediting bodies accredit the colleges you are considering. Accreditation ensures that the institution meets specific educational standards, enhancing the credibility and quality of the education provided.

FAQs

What are the worst colleges in America?

1. DeVry University State
2. Western International University State: Arizona 
3. Philander Smith College State: Arkansas
4. The Art Institute of Atlanta State: Georgia 
5. Waldorf University State
6. University of the Southwest State: New Mexico
7. Mayville State University State
8. New England College State: New Hampshire 
9. Alabama State University State
10. The University of Maine at Augusta State
11. Coppin State University State
12. South Carolina University in Aiken
13. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
14. Florida Memorial University
15. Grambling State University
16. Columbia College Hollywood
17. Montevallo University
18. District of Columbia University
19. Shaw College
20. California State University
21. Black Hills State University
22. Nazarene Bible College
23. Mount Sierra University
24. California State University
25. Georgetown University
26. Stratford University
27. Fayetteville State University
28. Lindsey Wilson University
29. Saint Augustine’s University 

What factors determine a good college?

Factors that Determine a Good College in America
Academic Ranking
Rates of Graduation
Students to Faculty Ratio

In conclusion

The list of the 30 worst colleges in America as of 2023 should be taken seriously by prospective students and parents alike. These institutions have been identified based on graduation rates, student loan default rates, and affordability. 

It is important to do thorough research before deciding where to attend college to ensure you receive a quality education and are not burdened by excessive debt.

While these schools may seem attractive due to their location or marketing tactics, it is best to avoid them altogether. Remember that your future success is dependent on the choices you make today. Choose wisely.

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