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 2015 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.
Whereas last year’s ranking included half of the Ivy League, this year only two members cracked the top 20. Several schools made the list for the first time, and Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering, ranked no. 6 last year, earned this year’s top spot. Although Olin College didn’t rank no. 1 in any individual category, its high placement in several categories — including Best Quality of Life, Best Career Services, and Best Dorms — earned it the outright top spot.
Northeastern took home the top spot in the career services ranking because of its unique co-op program. The program allows students to work in real world, professional settings during the semester for credit as an undergraduate.
Located in the heart of downtown Boston, the school also fared well in the City Gets High Marks list.
Poughkeepsie, New York
The liberal arts college has a student body under 2,500 total students, but still managed to rank in the top ten of Princeton Review's best college library ranking.
Founded in 1861 as an all-women's college, Vassar began admitting male students in 1969. Today, approximately 56% of the student body is female.
New Orleans, Louisiana
Located in the heart of New Orleans, Tulane ranked second in Princeton Review's City Gets High Marks ranking and sixth on the Quality of Life ranking.
The 110-acre campus sits along the oldest streetcar line in the country, and the historic St. Charles streetcar makes the four mile trip into the downtown and French quarters of New Orleans easily accessible.
This small, all-male liberal arts college took home the top spot in Princeton Review's Easiest Colleges To Get Around ranking. All of the college's academic buildings are built around a grassy field, called the 'mall,' giving the campus an intimate feel. Wabash also ranked no. 7 in career services.
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 five 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.
New Haven, Connecticut
Yale's 260 acre campus in urban New Haven, Connecticut is famous for its Gothic Revival architecture, although the school is peppered with contrasting modernist buildings.
The Ivy League institution was highly ranked for its library, and its Rare Book and Manuscript Library has a Gutenberg Bible on permanent display.
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.
Clemson, South Carolina
Perhaps best known for its football program, Clemson ranks first in Princeton Review's Town-Gown Relationships Are Great. It also has an excellent career services program, ranking fifth overall.
The campus borders Hartwell Lake's 900-plus miles of shoreline, where students enjoy swimming and boating. Clemson's also a top research university, and students have access to over 100,00 ebooks.
The women's college of the Claremont system, the school's 30-acre campus is on the National Register of Historic Places. The school is known for its Spanish Colonial inspired dorms, all of which have courtyards and fountains.
There's a student tended rose garden on campus, and orange trees line the paths near the residences.
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 fifth on the Best College Library list, and currently hosts more than 10 million volumes.
Kansas State is the number one employer in its hometown of Manhattan, Kansas, which may explain its high ranking the Town-Gown Relations are Great list.
The city also hosts an area known as 'Aggieville,' which is filled with college bars and stores. Overall, Kansas State ranked third in Quality of Life.
University Park, Pennsylvania
Penn State's career services office -- which regularly holds fairs for post-graduate jobs and schools -- was ranked number two by the Princeton Review. It also took home the top spot in the Health Services ranking.
The University Park campus holds one of the largest student bodies in America, and takes up around 5,500 acres.
Bowdoin got extraordinarily high rankings in several Princeton Review categories that have immediate impacts on students, including the number one spot on the Best Quality of Life, and high spots on the best food and best dorms lists.
The school kicks off each new school year with a 'Welcome Back' lobster bake for all students.
Source: The Princeton Review. To
SMU got a high ranking in the Princeton Review's lists of college cities and overall quality of life. 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.
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 and Best Library.
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. V.T. also took home the top spot in campus food.
Wash U is well known for its residential life facilities, and took the top spot in Princeton Review's list of best dorms. Many students live on a 40-acre part of campus known as the South 40, which includes residential colleges for upperclassmen students.
The university also fared well in several other categories, including best food, career services, and overall quality of life.
Our top college campus this year was established less than 20 years ago and although it didn't rank first in any individual category, it fared extremely well in nearly every category we factored.
With a little more than 300 total students, Olin ranked high in Easiest Campuses to Get Around and best dorms; the entire student body lives on campus in one of the two residence halls. Also one of the top engineering schools in the country, Olin earned a spot in best career services, too.
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