Entering the United States in 1816, Indiana would become the very first state to mandate the establishment of both a public school system and a public university within its founding constitution. This resolution would give way to the 1820 establishment of the Indiana Seminary in Bloomington. This would be the seedling for Indiana University, the largest university in the state and, with more than 570,000 living graduates worldwide, owner of the third largest alumni base in the United States. In addition to an excellent academic reputation, which includes the #2 overall ranked graduate program in the country (School of Public and Environmental Affairs), Indiana University’s Hoosiers have combined for no fewer than 24 NCAA national championships.
1869 saw the establishment of what is arguably Indian’s very best post-secondary school, when Purdue University instated its main campus in West Lafayette. Today, the sprawling 2,606-acre grounds are home to almost 40,000 students, a far cry from the 39 students that filled its classes during the inaugural 1874 school year.
With an offering of more than 200 undergraduate majors and 900 student organizations, Purdue is quite the draw to out-of-state attendees. In fact, Purdue boasts the fourth largest international student population in the United States. The attraction is no doubt strengthened by Purdue’s top-flight engineering program, one in which no fewer than 21% of its enrollees take part. Purdue’s Boilermakers also have a healthy and long-standing state rivalry with the Hoosiers, their football squadrons battling it out each year for a claim to the storied ‘oaken bucket’ trophy.
Of course, not all of Indiana’s colleges are so massive. With just 872 students on its roster, the all-men’s Wabash College was founded in Crawfordsville in 1832. One of the more academically challenging postsecondary experiences in the state of Indiana, Wabash is at once highly selective and uniquely rigorous. One of only three all-men’s colleges remaining in the United States, Wabash is part of a private college landscape that includes 40 non-profit private universities. Many others that fall into this category are sanctioned by religious organizations, such as the Top 20-ranked University of Notre Dame and Valparaiso University, the latter of which is distinguished as having been one of the first coeducational schools in the nation upon its 1858 founding.
Public universities in Indiana total 16 and the state’s Ivy Tech Community College system bears the distinction of being the nation’s largest singly credited statewide community college system, with roughly 200,000 students enrolling annually.
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