The 50 Most Beautiful Colleges in America (and Guess Who is #1)

No CU-Boulder on this list? Rubbish!


Agree with the absence of Boston College. I can take or leave Wellesley, though I love the area.

Lewis and Clark appears on these “most beautiful” lists all the time and that’s one that stumps me more than any. I think Reed is significantly more attractive. When we visited, that house you speak of was the only building I liked. It’s “nature” in the sense that there are a lot of trees, but in reality it’s located up on a hill in a suburb of Portland. It’s not unattractive by any means, but there is a lot of “blah” to it IMO.

Other random thoughts/reactions: I think Smith College has a classically beautiful campus … great combination of lovely architecture and setting … and it’s hardly ever listed. I think it is significantly more attractive than Amherst, which is often listed. Amherst is very nice, tidy and clean and very well put together, and it’s set in a bucolic little town. But it has little “wow” architectural features IMO. It’s probably a school I’d choose to attend over other schools I find find more beautiful, but that campus is underwhelming to me.

Agree with some others that Yale and Princeton are missing … Princeton being a major miss IMO. And I’d never put UVa (and a bunch of other schools listed) below James Madison. Frankly, JMU would not make my top 50. IDK what that’s about. University of Washington should be much higher on the list.

Middlebury is very nice overall, as is Williams. Those two would be somewhere on my list. I also like Conn College. Cozy and pretty campus with a great Green and peekaboo view of LI Sound.

Syracuse - campus proper - is pretty nice. I wouldn’t write home about it, but it’s nice. It’s also the worst campus location I’ve been to by far. Cornell is spotty … its location and vista help it out a lot. Nobody ever seems to say this, but the “seems rundown” reaction can fairly be applied to Cornell and Ithaca proper.

RISD w/o Brown is curious. I really like the Brown campus and College Hill, and if I’m listing 50 I’m including it.

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Princeton does make an appearance - but at #50. Incredulously, several spots below NYU’s uninspiring urban architecture.


I agree that Stanford, Cornell, and UVM belong on the list.

Maybe I have spent too much time either at Harvard or in the general area. While there are plenty of things to do in the area and it might rank in the top 50 of “where you would want to spend four years”, I do not think of it as being all that beautiful. Perhaps either familiarity breeds contempt, or I was just in a bad mood after trying to find a parking spot.


I agree completely on both points. Neither Montana school is top 50 campus. Top 50 settings would make more sense. But the buildings and other campus features are not that beautiful.

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It’s hard to separate Williams, the brick-and-mortar college from Williams, the jewel in the crown of a majestic (by eastern standards) mountain range. It is said that Charles Dickens once reckoned that Williams’ location was worth at least one endowed chair. I think his valuation is especially true nowadays with all the new construction. The quadrangle it has carved out of the footprint of a bulldozed, brutalist library is clean and sleek and may someday become the center of gravity it is looking for. But alas, I wouldn’t call it beautiful.

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Lots of those traditional older buildings on this list.

Santa Clara University is stunning. I was surprised not to see it on this list.

And NYU? I don’t think so.

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I’d suggest the old saying “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” applies to this list.


Rhodes in the 10? Really? I am a native Memphian. Did they visit the campus and surrounding area?

Rhodes always rates high. I personally don’t get it but it does.

I’ve heard Sewanee is stunning. And pictures seem to support that description. Gotta like collegiate gothic though.

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