Nebraska joined the Union in 1867 as its 37th state. Just two years prior, the state's Episcopalian Church had established the Mount Vernon College. Shortly after Nebraska gained statehood, the school turned its focus toward the education of prospective teachers. Today, after at least four name changes, the school remains in operation under the name Peru State College.
The oldest and largest of the state's public institutions would be established two years after the achievement of statehood. In 1869, the University of Nebraska opened its doors in the capital city of Lincoln. Today the school is home to 25,000 students but this flagship school is affiliated with approximately 45,000 acre of campus across the state. Lincoln itself is home to two campuses, roughly two miles apart.
In addition to its broad array of academic and recreational opportunities, including 150 undergraduate majors and more than 400 student organizations, the University of Nebraska holds several distinctions in the athletics arena. In a region where football is very much a way of life, the school's cornhuskers have attended 27 consecutive bowl games and recorded 27 consecutive winning seasons. They may owe at least part of this success to their unparalleled facilities. Indeed, the University of Nebraska is home to the single largest weightlifting room in the country, at three-fourths of an acre. But the University of Nebraska doesn't just breed great athletes. It also breeds smart ones. The Cornhuskers football team has produced more Academic All-Americans than any other Division I school in history.
The University of Nebraska is the oldest and largest of 15 public colleges or universities in the state. There are an additional 19 private non-profit universities in Nebraska. Founded in 1887 by the Methodist Church, Nebraska Wesleyan University is among the best examples of the state's thriving private, liberal arts sectors. Also located in Lincoln, Wesleyan's 1600 enrollees enjoy an average class size of 19 students. Wesleyan's excellence is aided by the school's four-year graduation guarantee, which finds counselors and educators working closely with students to guide them toward on-time graduation.
Though the state of Nebraska falls exactly in line with the 56% national average rate of six-year graduation, the state is an exceptionally high-performer when it comes to job-placement. Nebraska has experienced a great deal of industrial transformation in recent years as the state works to reduce its dependency on agriculture and meat production. This means that universities and firms have worked closely to create and staff technology and business jobs for graduates just entering the market.