In 1812, Louisiana became the 18th state to join the U.S. However, by the time of its accession, the territory had already witnessed a history of remarkable diversity and multiculturalism. From its varying occupations by Spanish and French settlers, to its dense Native American populations, to the influx of African and Caribbean slaves during its earliest days, Louisiana has long been the site of tremendous cultural fertility. It was in this context that, during the 18th century, Louisiana was home to any number of now long-defunct religious institutions of higher learning.
In fact though, its first public university did not come to be until more than a decade after the achievement of statehood. In 1825, the College of Louisiana received its charter to open in Jackson. After 20 year years in operation, the school lost state funding and merged with the Centenary College. Now a private institution located just outside of Shreveport, the Centenary College of Louisiana is in fact the oldest chartered liberal arts college west of the Mississippi River. With just under 800 students studying in both its undergraduate and graduate programs, Centenary offers enrollees a chance for a highly personalized course of study and access to a close-knit community of like-minded learners.
Centenary is one of 14 non-profit private schools in the state. Much like Centenary, Tulane University began its life as a public school before transforming into the private institution that stands in the heart of New Orleans today. Beginning as a public medical college in 1834, generalizing its academic offerings in 1847, and becoming a private institution in 1884, Tulane is home to 13,000 students today. In addition to placing its students at the center of one of America's most culturally exciting and artistically dynamic cities, Tulane rates #51 overall on U.S. News & World Report's ranking of American universities.
Of course, there are plenty of universities in Louisiana that remain public; 34 to be exact. Largest among them is the Baton Rouge-based Louisiana State University, which began in 1853 as the Louisiana State Seminary of Learning & Military Academy. Today, LSU can claim more than 28,000 enrollees and can count NBA all-time great Shaquille O'Neal among its alumni.
Also, if you're looking for a bargain on your education, it doesn't get too much better than Louisiana, especially if you're coming from within the state. At $5,817, the average in-state tuition per annum at a four-year college in Louisiana is substantially lower than the national average of $8,070.