You could fit all of New England inside of Idaho. In spite of its size though, this Rocky Mountain state is the 39th most populous in the nation. Admitted as the 43rd state in 1890, Idaho’s gorgeous vistas and wide open spaces are host to eight public universities and seven non-profit private institutions.
The first of these to be established was the Bannock State Academy, forged by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Rexburg in 1888. Thereafter, as Ricks College, it would serve as the largest two-year school in the nation. As of the year 2000, Bannock is one of three Brigham Young University campuses, along with the school’s Hawaii campus and its flagship Provo, Utah location. Though this is the oldest private university in the state, it would quickly be joined on the landscape by the state’s first public institution, the University of Idaho.
Founded in 1889, the University would help to usher Idaho toward statehood from its perch in the rural and mountainous community of Moscow. With roughly 12,000 students enrolled and access to more than 200 student groups, 1600 acres and its very own golf course, the University of Idaho is as stimulating as it is picturesque. Falling in the Top 100 among public universities, the University of Idaho is typically regarded as one of the best values for your money, running in-state residents a bit over $6,000 per year and charging out-of-state students a competitive $19,000 annual tuition.
The University of Idaho is not the largest of the state’s schools. That honor belongs to Boise State University, which it bears noting is also the only college in the nation that offers a Master of Science in Raptor Biology, if you’re into that sort of thing. Speaking of Boise, the nearby suburb of Caldwell is notable as the site of the College of Idaho’s 50-acre spread. Founded in 1891, this liberal arts college of just over 1000 students is known for its intimate class sizes, its stellar skiing program and the fact that its students have the chance to study three minors at once.
In spite of its sparseness, Idaho can lay claim to one of the fastest growing student populations in the nation. In fact, between 2008 and 2013, the state saw the single largest percentage of increase of college enrollment in the U.S. with a robust 31.5% rate of growth.