If you're looking for a solid mix of quality education and recreational down-time for your college experience, South Dakota should be on your short list. Sprawling across the Great Plains and the Missouri River, South Dakota draws millions to its rich natural parks and waterways, including Mount Rushmore, the Badlands, and the Black Hills. Sioux Falls, the state's largest city, hosts an annual Jazz Fest, a two-day music celebration free to all visitors. The second-largest metropolitan area, Rapid City is the gateway to Mount Rushmore and the Black Hills.
While the state is rich in history, South Dakota has come a long way since its first schoolhouse--a simple sod building erected in 1860--especially in terms of higher education. Today, South Dakota is home to more than 25 public and private universities and colleges. The University of South Dakota, located downstate in Vermillion, is the state's largest active college. The campus of the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology is located in Rapid City.