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The point system we used in our ranking works as follows:
-Awards and Recognition: International accolade (2 points), national accolade (1 point), appearance on the National Register of Historic Places (1 point)
-Other Recognition: Inclusion on other noteworthy “most beautiful college campuses” list articles (1 point per list)
-Notable Features: Features, such as significant architecture, famous buildings, outdoor activity centers, farms, botanical gardens, arboretums, historical relevance, etc. (1 point each, or 2 points if there are several types of one feature, such as gardens)
-Location: If the location is of certain significance, such as part of a national park or forest, on a hilltop or mountain, forest, etc. (1 point)
-Student Enjoyment: Full-time student retention rates, as reported by College Navigator, above 75% (1 point) and 90% and above (2 points)
In cases where two or more schools have the same number of points, their rank order is determined by the schools’ affordability. The schools with lower net costs, as reported by the College Navigator Database, received the better ranking (lower net cost = lower number).
To create this piece, nominations were selected based on 1.) inclusion in dozens of comparable “most beautiful college campuses” list articles, and 2.) an informal survey of friends and colleagues both in and out of academia.
Picturesque natural features such as green spaces, bodies of water and arboretums were the key criteria, as was elegant architecture – and specific buildings and areas were then singled out for their outstanding looks. The ordering was selected simply on the basis of which, as a whole, seemed to be the most beautiful.