For most students, the college experience is not limited to their time in the classroom. Much of what a school has to offer can be found on its campus — from great libraries to standout career services to, simply, beautiful surroundings.
We looked at 11 campus-related categories from The Princeton Review’s 2014 college rankings to determine which colleges offer the best campus experiences.
There was no discernible connection between the colleges that came out on top, as they represented everything from Ivy League universities to small liberal arts colleges to technical schools. Perhaps more telling of the list’s diversity is that each one of our top five schools came from a different area of the country.
Our list does include half of the Ivy League schools and three of the five Claremont Colleges, including our top ranked school — Claremont McKenna College. Although Claremont McKenna didn’t rank as #1 or #2 in any category, it placed high in several, including Best Quality of Life, Best Career Services, and Great Financial Aid.
Pomona's 140-acre campus also recalls the Mission Revival Style that designates much California architecture.
The Claremont Colleges member got recognition for its dorms, the largest of which has a sundeck for students to take advantage of their SoCal surroundings.
Kansas State is the number one employer in its hometown of Manhattan, Kansas, which may explain its number two spot on the Town-Gown Relations are Great list.
The city also hosts an area known as 'Aggieville,' which is filled with college bars and stores.
Sweet Briar, Virginia
Sweet Briar's 3,250-acre Virginia campus may seem a bit large for its just over 700 students, but the women's college is well known for its architectural beauty.
Its Italian Ville style Sweet Briar House is home to the school's president and is on the National Register of Historic Places, as are 21 of the school's 30 academic buildings.
West Point, New York
Aside from training the future leaders of America's armed forces, the United States Military Academy -- better known as West Point -- also takes good care of its cadets, and was ranked number two on Best Health Services.
The school's library, also highly ranked by Princeton Review, boasts strong military archives, as well as collections relating to West Point history, including the iconic class rings.
Hanover, New Hampshire
Dartmouth's 270-acre campus in Hanover, New Hampshire is both easy to get around and gives students a great quality of life, according to the Princeton Review.
The school's main library, Baker, is modelled after Independence Hall in Philadelphia, and boasts a fresco from Mexican artist José Clemente Orozco.
SMU got a high ranking in the Princeton Review's list of college cities. Although physically distant from the Ivy League schools of the Northeast, SMU's colours of Harvard Crimson and Yale Blue tie the Texas school to a tradition of academic excellence.
The campus notably houses the recently opened George W. Bush Presidential Center.
New York, New York
Located in New York City, Columbia's location is one of its greatest selling points.
The university's neo-classical campus occupies six city blocks in Manhattan, taking up a little over 30 acres and offering a respite from the hustle and bustle outside its gates. Columbia was ranked at the top of the Best College Library list, and currently hosts more than 10 million volumes.
University Park, Pennsylvania
Penn State's career services office -- which regularly holds fairs for post-graduate jobs and schools -- was ranked number one by the Princeton Review.
The University Park campus holds one of the largest student bodies in America, and takes up around 5,500 acres.
Olin College may have been established less than 20 years ago, but it has already made its mark, topping the Princeton Review's list of Easiest Campus to Get Around.
The school holds just over 300 students, all of whom live in one of the two residence halls on campus.
Virginia Tech's campus has the exclusive use of Hokie Stone, a combination of different coloured limestone, which adorn most of its buildings and other campus features, including a memorial to the 2007 massacre at the school.
Blacksburg, Virginia, where the campus is located, is the largest town in Virginia and boasts close relations with the university.
Topping the Princeton Review's Best Quality of Life list, Rice is known for its residential college system, in which students are sorted into one of 11 different colleges.
The Houston, Texas university was also included on the list of strong town-gown relations and its on-campus coffehouse and pub are often frequented by members of the broader city community.
Walla Walla, Washington
Whitman's Walla Walla, Washington campus doubles as an outdoor art museum, with over 20 sculptures located around the school.
The school is centered around a main quad, and was included on the Princeton Review list of Easiest Campus to Get Around.
Bowdoin got extraordinarily high rankings in several Princeton Review categories that have immediate impacts on students, including the number one spot on the best food list, and high spots on Best Quality of Life and Best College Dorms.
The school kicks off each new school year with a 'Welcome Back' lobster bake for all students.
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