Most beautiful college campuses enhance student success

Jefferson Rotunda at University of Virginia

Jefferson Rotunda at University of Virginia

The view from your college dorms may not be the most important criteria for choosing a college, but many colleges and universities promote themselves as having one of the most beautiful or picturesque campuses. College life in a relaxing and beautiful setting has been known to contribute to student success. After you’ve considered curriculum, price and admissions policy, the beauty around you can certainly be on your list when deciding where to spend four years of your campus life.

What makes a campus beautiful?

“The most important thing to realize is that how landscaping and buildings interconnect,” explained Boston-based architect Mark deShong in “America’s Most Beautiful College Campuses,” posted by Ratha Tep on HuffingtonPost.com, November 5, 2011.

TheBestColleges.org said that “students who graduate from beautiful campuses typically report higher overall satisfaction with their college experience,” in “The 50 Most Amazing College Campuses for 2013,” posted by Janet Kerris September 30, 2013. The site polled recent college graduates who said that campus setting played a vital role in how they perceived their four years of education.

The following list is not definitive, because hey, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. But many people agree, these ten campuses, in no particular order, are pretty gorgeous.

1. Florida Southern College, Lakeland, FL – Perched on a hill, this school boasts the world’s largest collection of Frank Lloyd Wright buildings, one of which is the geometric Annie Pfeiffer Chapel with glass and a wrought-iron tower. Wright also designed a water dome and esplanades.

2. University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA – This World Heritage Site features the famous Rotunda designed by Thomas Jefferson at the heart of what he called the “academical village.” The Rotunda was inspired by the Pantheon in Rome. Architect David Neuman said, “A beautiful campus is defined by a sense of order, though this doesn’t necessarily mean right angles,” posted in “America’s Most Beautiful College Campuses” on Forbes.com. The American Institute of Architects recognized the college for its rolling landscape and gorgeous buildings.

3. Lewis and Clark College, Portland, OR – With 137 acres of parkland and forest, pathways, stonewalls and a view of Mount Hood, this school blends historic architecture with environmentally sustainable buildings that are LEED certified. The 35-room, Tudor-style Frank Manor House contains admissions. For the outdoors enthusiast, the college abuts Tyron Creek State Natural Area.

4. Princeton University, Princeton, NJ – Built in 1754, and known for its ivy-covered gray stone buildings, Princeton is threaded with footpaths, greens and courtyards. Lake Carnegie graces one side of the campus, and the chapel is the third largest college chapel in the world.

5. Stanford University, Stanford, CA – With 8,000 acres on the San Francisco Peninsula, Stanford has a mile-long, palm-tree lined main drive, Spanish colonial Mission Revival architecture sporting red tile roofs and sandstone masonry, and the Memorial Church with its mosaic façade.

6. University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, IN – With Renaissance touches, this 150-year-old Catholic university sports a neo-Gothic Basilica of the Sacred Heart, Golden Dome atop the main building, the nation’s largest college library and the Grotto, built in 1896 based on the original in Lourdes, France.

7. University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH – With a $1 billion renovation project spanning two decades, the university enlisted architects Michael Graves, Charles Gwathmey, Frank Gehry and Peter Eisenman to give new campus buildings a post- modern identity and to highlight the school’s architecture program. Of note are the Steger Student Life Center, Tangeman University Center and the clock tower atop a 90-foot atrium.

8. University of Washington, Seattle, WA – Integrated into its urban setting, this school offers views of Mount Rainier and the Cascade Range. In spring, the cherry trees bloom on the campus quad. The oldest building on campus is the French-inspired Denny Hall built in 1895.

9. Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH – In beautiful New England, this 270-acre school founded in 1769 features the Baker-Berry Library modeled after Independence Hall in Philadelphia, the Hopkins Center for the Arts, as well as walking and hiking trails along the Connecticut River.

10. Kenyon College, Gambier, OH – The school features Ascension Hall and Old Kenyon Hall, built in 1827, one of the oldest Gothic Revival buildings in America. The 10-foot-wide trail called the Middle Path serves as a central artery for the campus. 

Was a beautiful campus important to you when choosing a college? Are there any other beautiful college campuses that were not included in the list? Let us know in the comments!

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