20 US Colleges to Avoid

There are many colleges in the United States, but they are not all at the same level. While some are very well known, others are to be avoided at all costs!


Higher education has always been an admirable aspiration and parents are proud to see their children enrolled, but not all offers are worth accepting. Some colleges have a reputation so bad you might think twice about including any achievements on your resume. For a number of reasons, these 20 colleges are failing their students and are rated the worst in the US. Let’s take a look at why, in the hopes of helping you make the right choice.

19. California State University Los Angeles


As an institution that performs poorly on free speech, California State University Los Angeles has gone as far as to try and tax any examples of students speaking their minds. This might sound bizarre but the college remains stuck in its ways, claiming to host debating panels that consist of vetted individuals who ascribe to their world vision, even moving the extra expense of doing so onto their students. It looks like they have their priorities as an institution of education in the wrong place.

18. Philander Smith College

Heritage Health Magazine

Philander Smith College is a cost-effective option but one with limited success. The average $26,616 debt that students build up here appears excessive alongside median earnings of $24,400. Plus, only 39 percent of students do graduate, which means that the quality of learning and inspiration students find here is as lacking as their future bank balances.

17. University of the District of Columbia


This urban Washington, DC university is a recent addition to the state, being founded in 1976 but is yet to excel in educational attainment. Students recommend it as a last choice only, though some 3,859 remain enrolled at the University of the District of Columbia and there are a variety of careers to pursue in the area if they can stick at it.

16. The University of Montevallo

The University of Montevallo

Founded in 1896, this Alabama public university has a graduation rate that is less than half of its enrolled students. Not a great selling point when 53 percent of students decide not to complete their education, although poor finances might be as much to blame as the quality of education. Students who do graduate leave with an average $25,484 of debt, which makes for a poor return on investment when compared to a median starting income of $38,300.

15. Alabama State University

Business Insider

Moving on to the even worst graduation rate of 26 percent, the 5,000-plus students hoping to move on from Alabama State University to better things don’t have it so easy. More than half a decade after graduation and their former students are still earning far below the national average, bringing in an average $27,700. Around one-fifth of this university’s students also default on their loans within three years.

14. Florida Memorial University


Situated in urban Miami, there would seem little reason for this university dating back to 1879 to perform so poorly. Only 1,669 undergraduates are enrolled here, with 63% being female students, but reviews suggest that the focus on learning and aspiration is falling short. Students have complained that teachers look down upon them and dislike seeing them succeed, so think twice before enrolling here.

13. Fayetteville State University

Fayetteville State University

North Carolina’s Fayetteville State University dates back to 1867—it has a significant heritage—but, unfortunately, some of the pride for what it stands for seems to have become lost along the way. Students have reviewed the school very poorly, especially its staff. Plus, Fayetteville itself, which has an awful crime rate, seems to be dragging the university down and having an impact on the outlook of anyone who enrolls there.

12. University of Alaska Anchorage

Anchorage Daily News

While options can be restricted in the last frontier of Alaska, the majority of higher education institutions are quality. This Anchorage university, however, needs a thorough makeover, seeing only 31 percent of its students graduate despite charging similar prices to other colleges in the state. At least those who do persevere manage to pursue median starting incomes of $46,000, but there’s no reason to underperform so severely with more than two-thirds of your students.

11. Grambling State University

NBC News

This 1901 university is located in scenic and rural surroundings, so it may not look too unpleasant a stay, but its performance leaves a lot to be desired. Dissatisfied students have been scathing over their experience here, not only criticizing the learning potential at their disposal but also the issue of non-students hanging around on campus for nefarious purposes. The college appears to be targeted by illegal drug sellers, and guns are often seen here too.

10. The University of South Carolina at Aiken

College Consensus

The University of South Carolina in Aiken is more of a modern facility, being founded in 1961, but it seems to have quickly lost its way. Of the 3,400 enrolled here, less than half will graduate to pursue median incomes of $41,000 to repay annual fees of $18,500. Often looking at life around a college can reveal its shortcomings, and Aiken is a prime example of this, being based in a very closed and inactive community of retirees who don’t really care for the recreational pursuits students like to enjoy. Upon graduating, there are very few prospects to pursue in Aiken, leaving many forced into expensive and risky relocations.

9. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Eastern New York


Most colleges make this list because they educate poorly but there are other ways for educational institutions to lose their way. In the case of Rensselaer Polytechnic, their chief problem relates to free speech and, therefore, how they respect their students’ democratic rights. The institute is litigious to say the least, wielding their regulations to limit students’ opinions and political motivations, including the banning of flyers on-site, which is achieved by abusing a legal technicality over property rights. There is little context for their using such legalities in this manner other than the fact that control freaks are running the place. Indeed, there have been repercussions for students who have spoken about their experience to journalists.

8. Lindsey Wilson College

VBN Architects

Founded in association with the United Methodist Church, in 1903, this Kentucky college welcomes 2,585 students – 61 percent of whom are female – to an institution with a mixed performance. According to students who have enrolled here, its teaching outlook has something of an overbearing religious aspect that people with a more relaxed approach to faith find difficult to adjust to.

7. Black Hills State University

Wikimedia Commons

This South Dakota university welcomes 4,000 students but has so far failed to return their investment with robust career paths. Graduates are finding it difficult to pay off their average loans of $25,400, with few institutions in the entire country returning such a poor investment figure of -$24,000.

6. Morris College


Founded in 1908, in association with the Baptist Church, this South Carolina college has a rural Sumter location and welcomes 1,200 students. As much as we don’t wish to adhere to stereotypes of folks who have never been to the city, reviews of Morris College strongly suggest this place is behind with the times. New technology does not seem to have been embraced here, affecting its students’ chances of moving on to sync with the modern world.

5. St. Augustine’s University


A very poor graduation rate of 28 percent should warn you off applying for St. Augustine’s University, located in Raleigh, North Carolina. Furthermore, those who do graduate appear to have poor prospects, with a very high default rate on student loans highlighting that careers are difficult to pursue even for those who have persevered with the curriculum.

4. California College San Diego


At California College San Diego you can expect to compete against serious odds in terms of pursuing a career that pays off your student debt of $31,884. Only 36 percent of students walking through their doors end up graduating and $39,800 has been calculated as the average income of those who graduated six years ago.

3. Columbia College Hollywood

Columbia College Hollywood

This Los Angeles private school performs very poorly with the College Scoreboard, which regards Columbia College Hollywood as among the worst the entire US has to offer, despite existing as a film school and being located in the best place in the world for a student to go on and pursue a career in the film industry. Only 35 percent of those who enroll here go on to graduate, while the debt accrued here is higher than most colleges, as is the default rate. The likelihood is that the glamour of Hollywood is allowing this college to admit more students than the film industry can employ, although the college is disputing the current figures on its worth and performance.

2. Nazarene Bible College

Colorado Springs Gazette

Not the most cost-effective choice to make when your debt is likely to be around $42,000 as a result, compared to an average income of $29,700 from subsequent employment. However, it isn’t cost alone that should hold you back from Nazarene Bible College. A staggeringly low 16.4 percent see their education here through, which makes the expense look laughable.

1. Western International University


Another small university that somehow manages to fail in what should be a positive and specialist learning environment. Indeed, the graduation rate here is staggeringly low, standing at 3 percent. There should be little motivation for going into student debt on account of Western International University. This is why the university closed this year.