On a more pleasant note: A most beautiful college campus list

I’m at UVA right now and it really shouldn’t even be on this list…it’s not all that beautiful and certainly not what I would call rural!

P.S. But if we’re going to say that UVA is rural, then I think Scripps College should count too - probably the most gorgeous campus I’ve ever seen.

I am from Virginia and I don’t consider UVA (or William and Mary) to be rural. Some on the list clearly are like Kenyon, Sweet Briar, Sewanee, but not those two, which are in smaller cities. While I’ve just argued they shouldn’t be on the list, I think William and Mary is definitely a prettier campus overall than UVA.

Two of my sons refused to get out of the car when we arrived to visit Stony Brook, my H’s alma mater, because it was “butt ugly” according to the younger one.

When we went through Albany on Amtrak on the way to visit my D at her upstate SUNY, the same two boys pronounced it the ugliest city they had ever seen (note, they are not particularly well traveled, unfortunately, but still, they seem to be on the right track).

One of S17’s top choices is Purchase and he didn’t think the campus was that bad. I sent him to visit with my D, so I have not yet seen the campus.

I am not one to care about landscaping or architecture and I certainly wouldn’t want to pay more money just because a campus is prettier. Clean, well maintained dorms, good food and a safe environment are things I would pay for but not a nice lawn.

University of British Columbia is absolutely stunning. five minute walk to the beach, you can see the ships rolling in everyday, the North Shore mountains, it’s inside a beautiful forest, and of course, the skyline of Vancouver is lovely.

Interesting that Bennington College is on both the [beautiful list](http://www.greatvaluecolleges.net/40-most-beautiful-college-campuses-in-rural-areas/) and on the [ugly list](http://www.complex.com/style/2013/09/ugly-college-campuses/bennington-college)!

D loved the U Pitt Campus but it is urban and doesn’t fit the picturesque campus a lot of people have in their minds when they think of college.

Miami U (Ohio) was definitely gorgeous–green and pretty buildings. I liked the campus itself a LOT but D said it creeped her out because all the buildings looked the same and they all looked so perfect.

To each his own!

There’s gorgeous architecture at Pitt for an urban campus. Here is an online tour from a sports website (starts with sports facilities, but then moves to campus and surrounding area):


D and I loved the Pitt campus. Beautiful urban campus. If you don’t like urban campuses, you wouldn’t like it though.

This list was obviously focused on traditional architecture and woodland nature - that’s the only excuse for not including Pepperdine!

Yes Pepperdine and Stanford should be on the list. It appears the vast majority of these schools are east of the Mississippi. Traditional architecture is certainly main criteria. Most of those schools all look alike.


Central part of the UVa grounds, designed by Thomas Jefferson.

Some colleges are mainly beautiful because of their architecture. However, some people get obsessed with uniformity of architecture, which is not always good. Many other campuses are well know for a beautiful setting (such as lakes and mountains or ocean views), but their individual buildings are nothing special. Other campuses are mainly known for their great canopy of mature trees.

I don’t think any university has anything to compare classroom wise to those special rooms in Pitts Tower of Learning. Really amazing.

Also the video posted above confirms my memory that we didn’t find UVA to be all that pretty. It seemed barren and muddy. To each his own as the poster above said.

@techmom99 SUNY Purchase is a beauty in a modern art sense. Neuberger Museum’s large scale installations suit the aesthetics of the whole campus.

Beauty is definitely in the eye of the beholder. I do not recognize the UW-Madison building in that second link- there are several much more iconic buildings on campus. Plus an overview of the views from some hills of buildings and the lake make the campus, not some reviewers view of an obscure building.

Those lists are horrendous. One building does not make a beautiful campus, it is the entire campus. Plus, some of us think most of those iconic buildings are ugly, could be anywhere, etc. Old architecture- so many of the buildings are interchangeable. So many flat, boring campuses make the list. I see very little architecture that fits the surroundings. I also see many depressing buildings that were built to impress but not my style.

They need to look at overall campuses, not have a most beautiful building to make the list. When you look at the photos they are just a bunch of period architecture that is usually fairly boring or ugly.

It’s interesting how they chose rural campuses- they are more likely to have more beauty due to the proximity of nature. There are some more urban campuses that are more beautiful- sometimes an oasis in the midst of a city, or like UW, an oasis in a city lucky to have good natural topography.

Just goes to show how subjective things are. Kudos to those who go for the people part of a campus, not external appearances. Most of those old buildings lack the creature comforts that make for a more pleasant experience- think heating and air conditioning for one.

This is a pretty good list as these lists go, though not all what I would call rural. Often they repeat the same college, but this has some new ones.

The most beautiful we visited was Boston College, but DD ended up on a stunning campus at UC Berkeley (adjective does not apply when leaving campus to the south). The bay views are glorious.

I’m afraid after visiting Durham University last week in England no u.s. college’s ever going to match a castle built a thousand years ago.

UW building was Soil Science aka Hiram Smith Hall


I think one building does make the USAFA beautiful - the chapel building (although it is much more than a chapel). It is modern like the Air Force, spiky like the mountains, and sets off all the flat buildings of the campus.

U of Colorado is not known for its old buildings but for all the modern ones built of the same stone and roofs. My daughter really likes it because it is uniform. She liked the USAFA. She wasn’t crazy about Florida Southern because some of the buildings are Frank Lloyd Wright and some are old southern buildings with columns. Messy.

Here are the top ones based (of the ones I’ve seen) based on how I feel today and not necessarily in rank order (but generally in rank order):

Larger (to midsize) schools: Cambridge (UK), Oxford (UK), Princeton, Yale, William and Mary, Colorado, West Point, Indiana University, Chicago, Berkeley, Stanford, UVA, Dartmouth, Duke.

Smaller schools: Richmond, Swarthmore, Washington and Lee, Sewanee, Vassar, Kenyon, Mount Holyoke, Sweet Briar, Colgate, Union, Bryn Mawr (I haven’t seen some that get noted such as Bucknell, Furman, etc.)

I like to visit campuses, but it is difficult to evaluate them when the weather, time of year, and time elapsed since the visit may play a factor. I broke it into larger and smaller schools since it is tough to compare them. Larger schools often some more impressive buildings and spaces, but sometimes have areas that are not nearly as nice (e.g. medical centers, etc.)