Delaware was the first state to ratify the United States Constitution. One of the original 13 colonies, it is at once the sixth least populous and sixth most densely populated state in the U.S. The second smallest state, but one in close proximity to several major American Metropoli, Delaware's system of higher education is likewise small in scale but large in stature. A total of ten accredited universities claim residence in the state, five public and five private.
In spite of its modest size, Delaware offers its students access to the full spectrum of educational opportunities. Indeed, one could likely fit all 211 students at the Delaware College of Art and Design into a single lecture hall at the Newark-based University of Delaware. The latter is both the largest and oldest school in Delaware, tracing its roots back to the 1743 founding of a small private school in New London, Pa.
Moving south in 1765 and gaining its charter as the Academy of Newark in 1769, the four year quasi-public university (privately chartered but publicly supported) is attended by nearly 22,000 students today. In addition to quadrupling its enrollment across the last 70 years, the University of Delaware credits itself as the birthplace of studying abroad, having dispatched its first class of world travelers to Paris in 1923. The school remains, to date, a top destination for students who anticipate studying abroad.
For those who prefer the comfort of a smaller campus community, Wesley College is a top choice. Located in the state capital of Dover, the 50-acre campus is home to the oldest purely private college in Delaware. Founded in 1873 and offering its 2100 students the full gamut of liberal arts opportunities, Wesley stands out for its excellent record on financial aid.
On the whole, Delaware stands out for its performance in higher education. As of 2010, Delaware boasts a tremendous 70.8% rate of graduation within six years. this is nearly 15 points higher than the national average! This may also explain why Delaware is home to the highest percentage of science and engineering Ph. D.'s per population of any state in the U.S.