Most Beautiful College Campuses

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You never get a second chance to make a first impression, and that applies to college campuses as well as people. While academics, athletics, and extracurricular activities play a big part in deciding where to attend college, a beautiful and functional campus can sometimes be the deciding factor in making the choice. Students will spend the better part of four years of their lives on their college campus, so this aspect is important, but often overlooked. Students should look for campuses that fit their needs and provides all the comforts of home.

The ranking below shows our list of the most beautiful campuses in the United States, taking into account things like style and learning environments.

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Rank Name Description

University of Minnesota - Twin Cities

A quick shuttle bus ride connects the Minneapolis and St. Paul campuses of the University of Minnesota. In Minneapolis, the campus overlooks the Mississippi River with the skyscrapers of the city just off in the distance. In St. Paul, explore each of the buildings that are nestled in beautiful, rolling green hills. The Twin Cities area is one of the main attractions, boasting the second highest participation in art events and theater productions in the country.


Wake Forest University

The manicured landscape of the Wake Forest University campus sets off the beautiful buildings of the campus in Winston-Salem, a part of the Piedmont Triad in North Carolina. The campus itself is one of the most beautiful in the nation, and the gorgeous surrounding area is only a short car ride away. From the beaches of North or South Carolina to the Blue Ridge Mountains, take in the notorious scenery of the entire state as well as the university.


Elon University

The Elon University Forest, 56-acres of preserved land, is part of the 620-acres of this university and adds to the natural beauty of the campus. The campus itself is a botanical garden. With flowers in bloom surrounding the majestic green of the forest, Elon University’s campus reflects its grand history of community and culture. The welcoming physical environment also reflects the welcoming nature of the faculty, staff, and students of this North Carolina institution.


Kenyon College

In the city of Gambier, just 45 minutes outside of Columbus, Ohio's capital city, the campus of Kenyon College reflects its Midwestern heritage in the architecture of the homes and buildings, surrounded by waves of green landscape and tall, green trees. The true appeal of the campus is its place as a part of the representation of the history of the region. To add to the beauty of the Midwestern landscape, a 380 acre nature preserve sits within the 1,000 acres of the entire campus.


Sewanee - University of the South

Visitors, students, faculty, and staff of the Sewanee-University of the South campus are greeted to a glimpse of the style and architecture of Oxford University’s middle campus in England. The Episcopalian university replicates the wonder of Oxford, set in the midst of some of the most beautiful scenery to be found in Tennessee all year round, from the stunning snow-capped mountains in the winter months to the unparalleled colors of the fall leaves.


Pepperdine University

Pepperdine University has one of the most distinct campuses in the country for both its architectural style and its scenic view. Built into the sides of hills overlooking the Pacific Ocean, the campus is located near Malibu in Los Angeles County, and from almost anywhere on campus the view of the ocean can be enjoyed. The Mediterranean architecture of the campus buildings includes walls of white stucco, windows that are lightly tinted, and roofs of red tile to create a modern, Californian ambiance.


Lewis & Clark College

Located in Portland Oregon, the campus of Lewis and Clark College is reminiscent of a lovely park with its majestic trees and creeks. Sitting on top of Palatine Hill, the density of the forest on the 137-acre campus adjoins to an additional 645 acres of natural wonder, the Tryon Creek State Natural Area. The quietness of both the neighborhood and preserved land setting create the tranquil appeal of Lewis and Clark College. The natural environment represents the college well, as Lewis and Clark continues to grow its reputation as a green institution with 100 percent of its electricity being sustained through wind power.


Emory University

With the attractions of the country's ninth largest metropolitan area, Atlanta, Georgia, only a 15 minute drive away, the campus of Emory University already has significant appeal. Add to that the classic, Georgian architecture of the campus buildings, situated among tall trees and impeccably manicured lawns, and visitors to the suburban campus feel as if they have stepped into a painting of the regal South. The marble buildings and lovely flowers add to the feel of the campus, and visitors are not disappointed in the southern allure of Emory University.


Loyola Marymount University

One of the bragging rights of the West Coast is the view of the amazing Pacific Ocean, and one university in California boasts an exceptional glimpse. In West Los Angeles, in the Del Rey Hills of Westchester, Loyola Marymount University has unforgettable views of the impressive Los Angeles skyline and the Pacific Ocean. The 150-acres of the private Catholic institution span across a high bluff, creating the platform for the breathtaking views of Marina Del Rey and Playa Del Ray that lay just below the campus.


Connecticut College

Founded in 1911 in New London, Connecticut, Connecticut College's 750 acre campus looks over Long Island Sound, creating a one of a kind experience for visitors. In addition to the remarkable view, the campus' location is one of its most appealing features. Located almost in the middle of the drive from Boston to New York, Connecticut College is situated as the Eastern United States' most well-positioned liberal arts college for access to two of the most appealing metropolitan areas.


Pacific Union College

Access to Pacific Union College’s campus is made easier by Angwin-Parrett field, the public airport located on its campus as part of the bachelor’s of science in aviation curriculum. The campus sits just above Napa Valley on Howell Mountain and adds to the local reputation for beauty. The college has over 1,900 acres of property, with about 30 miles of the property dedicated to trails for biking or hiking throughout the campuses wooded scenery.


Abilene Christian University

Abilene Christian University is set in Abilene Texas, about 150 miles to the west of the Dallas/Fort Worth area. The friendly atmosphere created by the students and staff of the university represents true Texas hospitality, mirroring the gorgeous Texas weather and creating an environment that makes people comfortable anywhere on campus. In spite of the city’s small size, the diversity of the campus has created a community of incredible opportunities for entertainment, support services, and cultural activities.


Rhodes College

A visit to Rhodes College in Memphis, Tennessee offers a step back in time with the buildings and landscape designed in the fashion of a Gothic village from England’s past. The 100 acres of the campus are vastly wooded and located in a tranquil, historic neighborhood near the magnificent Memphis Zoo, a juxtaposition to its proximity to the bustling city life of nearby Memphis.


University of Mississippi

The small, southern town of Oxford, Mississippi is home to one of the most beautiful campuses in the United States. The predominantly red brick buildings of the campus are supported and adorned with the grand white columns to create a regal look that is unparalleled from around the nation. The superbly and meticulously maintained landscape and quintessential collegiate atmosphere from student attire to friendly greetings from professors add to the magnificent campus atmosphere.


University of the Pacific

On the West Coast in Stockton, California, the scenery of the University of the Pacific pays homage to the Ivy League schools of the East, complete with brick buildings supported by distinguished columns and stunning rose gardens amid the many trees. The newest buildings on campus, a $38 million University Center, the new hub of student activity, and the $20 million center for Biological Sciences for laboratories and advanced technology classrooms exemplify the university’s commitment to education and students.


University of Chicago

The University of Chicago is a prestigious private research university just south of Chicago, Illinois. With a total of 211 acres between the north and south ends of campus, located in the Hyde Park and Woodlawn neighborhoods, this university’s campus is a pleasant combination of the Gothic and collegiate architectural styles of universities such as Oxford with modern styles becoming a part of the architectural plan in the mid-20th century. The modern styles reflect the proximity of the university to one of the most metropolitan cities in the U.S. as well as the institution’s leading reputation as a forward and innovative research institution.


Furman University

Often heralded as the standard in collegiate architecture and landscape design, Furman University is a superb example of the ideal college campus. The campus is centered around a 40-acre lake, surrounded by 710 acres of woods, manicured lawns, and Georgian style buildings. Other notable scenic inclusions of the campus are the tranquil Asian Garden, which is part of a Buddhist temple that was brought to Furman from Japan, and the James B. Duke library, expanded to 128,000 square feet and set off the picturesque water fountains its lawn.


Whitman College

The campus of Whitman College is located in Walla Walla, Washington, in the downtown district of the city. The 117 acre main campus houses numerous historic buildings, constructed in Craftsman or Victorian style, and natural scenery, including the College Creek, which winds throughout the campus. In the center of campus, the artificial pond serves as a habitat for the ducks of Whitman College, a signature part of the college’s environment. An additional 22,000 acres of property includes Johnston Wilderness Camp and farming land in both Oregon and Washington states.

Modern Style and Educational Tradition

Because students spend so much time on campus, the need for a modern campus that will be student-friendly has never been more important. Students living on campus expect dorm rooms that are modern and up-to-date, providing necessary wiring for computers and other technological gadgets. The key for many colleges with older campus buildings is to implement needed updates while maintaining the look and feel of tradition. Universities such as Yale, Duke and Northwestern are wonderful examples of schools combining today’s needs with yesterday’s traditions, creating an environment that will please their students while keeping those who love the “old-school” feel happy as well.

A beautiful college campus can have a big impact on students and their learning experiences. As environmental issues become more important to students, colleges are re-shaping their campuses to meet the needs of the environment. Many universities are updating buildings and “going green.” Schools such as Rice University are re-designing campus to create more green space for students, and buildings such as Duncan Hall and several new dorms are installing more efficient lighting and power sources. Other schools are making classrooms more student-friendly with better seating and lighting. Gone are old desks and hard chairs, replaced with tables for groups complete with padded chairs. Many colleges are limiting class sizes, enabling them to have classrooms that are less crowded in an attempt to create learning environments emphasizing personal instruction.

A Productive Learning Environment

Students who report having better learning experiences due in part to a well-kept campus say they like a combination of old and new. Campuses with lots of outdooor areas for students to congregate tend to be rated very high, as are those which have modern facilities for lab work and research. Modern research buildings that give students the best tools to work with make a big impression on students and how they view their learning experience.

However, despite all the new buildings and gadgets, it’s still location, location, location when it comes to beautiful campuses. Schools in warm-weather states like California or Florida usually top the list of favorite campuses of students. Rollins College, outside of Orlando, boasts stunning architecture coupled with sunny skies to create a favorite college campus. Students there even get a day off to enjoy their surroundings even more. Called “Fox Day,” students are encouraged to take the day off and enjoy the local community along with their campus. Others like Whitman College, located in the place so nice they named it twice, Walla Walla, Washington, is also a student favorite. The campus offers students hiking trails, streams and outdoor sculptures to enhance their learning experience, along with a nature preserve used for research projects.

Where Do You Fit In?

When prospective students are deciding which schools to visit, there are some things to keep in mind. First is giving thought to what type of environment will they be most comfortable with? Do they prefer a warm-weather climate like Florida or California, or are they okay in a northern location like Minnesota or Maine? Do they want a campus with lots of open fields or wooded areas, or do they prefer the beach to be next door to their dorm? Do they like the hustle and bustle of a big city, or would they prefer a more rural location for their studies? All of these questions come into play when deciding on a college.

When on a campus visit, spend the day walking around and getting a feel for it. Visit classrooms, labs, research facilities, athletic stadiums and other places. Look over the buildings that house classrooms of your major. This will give you an idea of how important the college views that department. If facilities are not to your liking, it may be better to look at other schools. Ivy League schools and others have done remarkable work with their campuses, updating to meet today’s needs while maintaining their historical architecture and style. If environmental issues are important to you, find out about the school’s sustainability program. Colleges such as Sonoma State University have set the standard for colleges across the country, using recycled rubber and glass to help construct campus buildings. Take your time and look around, because like people colleges don’t get a second chance to make a first impression.