Choosing which universities to apply to can be a long list that’s difficult to narrow down. Many schools have much more to offer than meets the eye, and may not get to show off some of their most compelling amenities during a short college tour. It is just as important to be intrigued by a campus and its benefits as it is to be excited about the academia that a certain institution may offer. Discovering these delightful hidden secrets on a school campus can be hard when you’re not physically exploring the grounds. This list of 50 hidden treasures on U.S. college campuses is meant to introduce curious students to what gives a college its character, rather than just academic prowess. Many of these attributes are not readily available or obvious on the particular school’s website and may be disappointingly overlooked during the application process.
The primary criteria for this list were based on the visibility and availability of information concerning the specific topics. Treasures vary from places to clubs and sports, to programs and classes. Each quality is specific to the school and contributes to the institution’s uniqueness.
San Juan College
In the small town of Farmington, New Mexico, stands one of the largest indoor climbing walls in the western United States. It has open opportunities for beginner and veteran climbers, with a full-time staff of professionals. With over 6,000 square feet of available climbing wall, the gym is open to students and community members, giving climbers the perfect opportunity to network with others who are passionate about the sport. The college offers workshops, classes, and belay certification courses, as well as a chance to compete in annual competitions. There is also reservation space for parties! Not only is there a spacious climbing wall, but there is also a 600 foot bouldering cave, a running crack, 2 roofs, 17 lead rope stations, and 12 lead climbing lines.
University of Chicago
The Yerkes Observatory was established in 1897 and is the center of the astronomy and astrophysics departments at the University of Chicago in Illinois. It is known as the “the birthplace of modern astrophysics,” and has been the research facility for several prominent astrologists, including Edwin Hubble. It houses a 40 in. refracting telescope (the largest in the world) and over 170,000 photographic plates, spanning back from over a century ago when the telescope was constructed. At one time, the observatory contained the entire astronomy and astrophysics departments of UC, but now the departments are located on the main campus. The observatory is an available research and educational space for scientists, researchers, graduate and undergraduate students, and community members. There is a prominent outreach program connected to the observatory, giving students, faculty, and staff chances to bring the wonders of outer space to the community.
Largest college campus in the United States might not make Berry College a “hidden” treasure, but the outing and academic programs make the 26,400-acre campus, located in luscious Rome, Georgia, a veritable box-full of treasures. Designated trails include over 15 miles of horseback riding and over 40 miles of mountain biking and hiking. The cross country team makes fantastic use of the large campus with 5K, 6K, 8K, and 2-mile courses maps. Berry’s equestrian center is 164 delineated acres, home to about 60 horses and contains 64 stalls, 5 buildings, and outdoor and indoor arenas. For hunters, several times a year there are scheduled archery and firearm deer hunts to cull the overpopulation of white-tailed deer. Classes in environmental and animal sciences, biology, chemistry, and geology conduct many current and on-going research projects across the heavily forested grounds with studies written regularly by students of the university. Only about 2,100 undergraduate students are enrolled at Berry per year, making it a close-knit community with an abundance of recreational, educational, and breathing space.
University of Arizona
The University of Arizona in Tucson has three museums on its campus, one of which is perhaps the most expansive and beautiful college museum, the University of Arizona Museum of Art. All three buildings are located within walking distance of each other on campus, the other two being the Arizona State Museum and the Center for Creative Photography. Since its construction in 1924, UAMA has accrued over 6,000 exhibits from different artists and collectors, including the Samuel H. Kress collection – paintings and sculptures ranging from the 14th to the 19th century. The Arizona State Museum has a collection of over 25,000 hand-woven, southwest Native American baskets, and is affiliated with the Arizona Archaeological and Historical Society, a forum for those interested in Southwest American art. The Center for Creative Photography contains archives from the famous environmental photographer, Ansel Adams, and its construction and establishment was inspired by the artist during one of his exhibits in 1974; it is considered one of the finest academic art museums in the country.
To some, study abroad programs may be an important experience during their college career. It also may be stress-inducing and nerve-wracking. At Goucher College in Towson, Maryland, a study abroad experience is mandatory to a student’s college experience, education, and graduation! Every student is required to study abroad either for a semester, a full year or in one of the intensive courses abroad: a three week, comprehensive class, taking place during winter and summer breaks. The process is streamlined to ensure an easy transition into each chosen program. Attending preparation sessions is required, as is meeting with a study abroad advisor before embarking on the adventure. There are over 60 programs available to choose from as well as 32 countries to visit.
Washington University in St. Louis
A good dining experience and a healthy diet are both important in getting the most out of a healthy college experience. Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, has an award-winning dining hall that exemplifies excellent sustainability practices, and might just be the place for those that cherish culinary quality, variety, and atmosphere. Partnered with Bon Appétit Management Company, a nationally ranked college dining service, WUSTL is committed to serving nutritious, ethically grown food. The college dining service received the National Association of College & University Food Services award in 2014, as well as recognition from the EPA, for its waste management practices, having converted 23,000 gallons of kitchen waste oil into biodiesel fuel for campus delivery trucks.
Deep Springs College
Deep Springs College in Big Pine, California, is located on a working alfalfa farm and ranch and operates under an educational plan instituted by its founder in 1917 of labor, academics, and self-governance. The school accepts only 25 to 30 students a year, making it the epitome of a small college experience. The farm provides students with the opportunity, not only to work independently, but also to learn about the land and animals, such as pigs, sheep, cows, and horses. The program instills in each student the drive and necessary skills to accomplish intensive manual labor while working and cooperating with others. In the midst of Deep Springs Valley and the Inyo-White mountain ranges, the college is intimate and quiet. Students rise early to milk livestock, attend classes during mid-morning, and, from lunch to dinner, are sent out on the farm with their own, personal projects.
Sewanee: The University of the South
In the DuPont Library at The University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee hides a world-class listening library. The William Ralston Listening Library contains over 10,000 records and about 10,000 compact disks, along with rare scores and volumes available for reference. Ultra High-End, an audio and home theater review website, called the listening room “unique to the United States and perhaps the world.” The speakers are Alexandria IIs: 73-inch-tall, 605-pound, state-of-the-art loudspeakers, found in very few places in the world. Delivering unparalleled sound, the system gives the listener concert-level quality. The room seats 15 and is open for students to schedule a listening of whatever music they please. A headphone listening area is connected to the listening library, with turntables, CD players, and digital music storage, giving students the ultimate opportunity to listen to music on high-quality equipment that most professionals never get a chance to use.
University of Maryland
On the south campus dining hall on the University of Maryland campus in College Park, grows a rooftop garden. A project started by a UM horticulture and crop production education major, the Rooftop Community Garden Club, and Dining Services, the garden provides food for the dining hall and an educational space for classes. There is a greenhouse, gardening space available for students and community members, and it is maintained by both students and university staff. Students also participate in group yoga sessions some mornings and host garden parties. Visible from the ground, the garden will only grow taller and more luscious above UM campus.
This private women’s college in Wellesley, Massachusetts, has a special series of botanic gardens and greenhouses which support over 1,500 plant species from 150 different plant families. The Margaret C. Ferguson Greenhouses are 16 interconnected structures, each sustaining its own climate specific plant species. For example, The Desert House grows cacti and flowers found in arid environments and The Tropic House is tall enough for trees to grow, simulating a tropical forest. The gardens, such as the Edible Ecosystem Teaching Garden, supply food for the small college community and provide hands-on learning and special project opportunities. The rich greenery of Wellesley campus supports the work of science majors and gardening enthusiasts, naturalists and hungry students, and also provides a beautiful, tranquil academic environment.
Students at Middlebury, Vermont, developed a “muggle friendly” version of the sports quidditch from the popular book series Harry Potter, and, today, the Middlebury quidditch team is nationally ranked. During each school year, different teams are formed on Middlebury campus and compete to qualify for the national and international championships. Adapted and developed for the real world, two students formed the first quidditch club in 2005 and now over 300 colleges and high schools in North America, Australia, and Europe play “muggle quidditch” and participate in international competitions. Middlebury has published seven versions of a quidditch rulebook and the International Quidditch Association, the group responsible for competition scheduling and rule keeping, was founded in 2010 on Middlebury campus. Although the school might not be known for its quidditch team specifically and for the annual competitions held on the campus, but it is a highly celebrated attribute of the university and sparked the creation of a new type of sports culture.
Physics and chemistry majors at Reed College in Portland, Oregon, are in luck – they get to conduct experiments using their very own nuclear reactor. Reed is the only school in the country that offers usage of a nuclear reactor to undergraduate students. Established in 1968, it is mostly used for scientific education and research for college and local high schools students, but it has also been used by outside entities in Oregon, such as electronics and manufacturing industries. It has facilitated many hands-on opportunities for students and community members to learn about nuclear fission during the tours offered of the reactor and research facility. There are currently 40 students on staff with a license from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to operate the machine and many of them occupy supervisory positions.
The Memorial Gymnasium at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, is unique in its court design and has been known among opposing teams as the Hoops House of Horrors. Benches meet right at the baseline, making it so that coaches must shout down the court, instead of across, which is exceedingly difficult for most (unless you’re the coach of the Vanderbilt Commodores). The building’s acoustics design and recently updated sound system make for raucous basketball games, as does its capacity of 15,311. The space has been renovated three times since its construction in 1952 (at first it could only seat 6,983!). What really makes Memorial Gym so different is its stage-like court, which rises to meet the onlooker and was originally used for both concerts and basketball games. This difference gives spectators a new viewing experience and gives a particular advantage to the Commodores during home games.
University of Georgia
The Georgia Bulldogs might be well-known, but not many have heard of the Georgia Master Beekeepers. Located in Athens, the University of Georgia offers a Master Beekeeper Program within its College of Agriculture & Environmental Science. The four-step process, that starts with the basics of beekeeping and ends with a Craftsman Beekeeper certification, prepares students for commercial level bee production and management. Similar to a graduate program at most universities, the certification course prepares its students to learn everything about bee anatomy, business aspects of beekeeping, and the knowledge to assist other community members in their own beekeeping projects—home, commercial or otherwise. In 2013, 419 students participated in the program and 319 completed all four steps in becoming a Master Craftsman Beekeeper. As a vastly agricultural state, the certification of beekeepers is pivotal to Georgia’s $80,000,000 industry.
University of Michigan
Squirrel Duke, Jason Colman, of the Squirrel Club at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, founded this strange club with Jason Hyatt in 2002, and since then its numbers have skyrocketed. At first, there were only 10 members at the first meeting of the Squirrel Club, but today there are over 400 student participants, each following the mission to stay “dedicated to the feeding and welfare of squirrels on campus.” The squirrels of UM have grown quite friendly (and plump) from the loving devotion of club members, and video evidence on their website shows students hand-feeding treats to their furry friends all across campus. No requirements, dues, or responsibilities, the club offers group opportunities to stroll through campus with a handful of peanuts and experience the pleasure of hand-feeding a small, skittish animal.
College of the Holy Cross
This small Roman Catholic, liberal arts college in Worcester, Massachusetts is home to the dreaded story of the Fenwick Exorcism. On the fourth floor tower of Fenwick Hall on Holy Cross campus, a staircase, known eerily as “the staircase to nowhere,” leads quite abruptly into a wall, and behind this wall, a door opens to the Fenwick Exorcism Room. Legend holds that, in the late 1800s, two Jesuit priests performed a 48-hour long exorcism on a possessed woman in this room. When the door was unlocked and opened on the third day, the priests had vanished, as had the demon-infested woman. In 1988, students reported seeing a sign in the windows reading “HELP,” but, once again, the note mysteriously vanished. Presently, the room is used for storage and the story has mostly become a myth, which is mainly used to spook incoming students. But the mystery is still very much alive on campus at the College of the Holy Cross.
University of Montana
The University of Montana in Missoula offers a Wilderness and Civilization Program that allows students to receive a minor in Wilderness Studies in just under two semesters. UM is surrounded by millions of acres of grasslands, forests, and mountain ranges which support a plethora of different plant and animal species. The Wilderness Studies minor is perfectly suited for environmental science, forestry, and geology majors, as well as anyone with an interest in survival techniques and wilderness preparedness. The program utilizes many outlets to communicate wilderness studies—ecology, literature, policy, art, and Native American studies. The program offers opportunities to work closely within the community with a small group, small classes with dedicated professors, and teaches invaluable lessons about land ethics and survival.
Berklee College of Music
Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts, has what is possibly the largest collection of recording studios on a U.S. college campus—16 separate recording studios, each complete with professional grade equipment, with multi-track digital and analog recording capabilities, as well as audio and video mixing, editing, and processing potential. Music production and engineering majors, as well as other students with a passion for digital music, have the opportunity to learn production techniques with the best equipment from companies like Lexicon, Sony, Solid State Logic, and many others. Several of the rooms are designed as recording studio-classrooms, giving students a well-defined educational experience with recording equipment. The Berklee Performance Center is set up with live recording capabilities as well, giving students the chance to learn every aspect of recording and music production.
Oregon State University
Bikers everywhere will admire Oregon State University campus in Corvallis, as it is one of the most bike-friendly cities in the country, where 97% of the roads have bike lanes. In a town considered to be populated by the most bike commuters in the country, 40% of the faculty and staff at OSU take the bus, walk, or ride their bikes, and over 30% of the students bike to class. There are chances to purchase, swap, and rent bicycles and bike parts, there is a cycling club where beginners and experts can learn more about the sport and bicycle maintenance, and there are over 600 parking spaces for cyclists around campus. The Student Sustainability Initiative is partnered with the OSU Sustainability Office and the Recreational Sports Department in creating even more opportunities for campus cyclers.
University of Oregon
Young men with the desire to sing with others in perfect cadence and harmony have a glorious opportunity to do so at the University of Oregon in Eugene. The a-cappella group, On the Rocks, was founded in 1999 by U of O students with a passion for singing, but no outlet to exercise their talent. Over the years, the group has made five albums produced by the university and have appeared on several collaborative a cappella CDs. One On the Rocks fan recorded the group singing a rendition of Lady GaGa’s “Bad Romance,” and the video went viral, receiving more than 8,000,000 views. After such online recognition, the group was invited to appear on the NBC show “The Sing Off” and performed “Bad Romance” on public television! Today the group continues to live up to the name they have made for themselves, and students interested in contributing to the glory will be welcomed by the University of Oregon’s one and only, all-male a cappella group, On the Rocks.
This small work college located at the end of the Southern Appalachian mountains in Berea, Kentucky, built an Ecovillage—an educational living space designed to reduce energy and water consumption and instruct residents in proper methods of sustainable living. It has passive solar heating and photovoltaic plates that contribute to the 75% energy reduction as compared to other living spaces across the Berea campus. There are 50 apartments that are intended mostly for married couples and families. About 100 people live in the village at one time, and there is a high functioning daycare facility available for students, faculty, and staff with children called, the Child Development Laboratory. The Ecovillage is primarily for environmental education purposes. Facilitating this mission is a group of four lead students who live in the Sustainability and Environmental Science (SENS) House, implement green living habits, and organize educational sessions for the residents. The SENS Aquaponics garden, featuring a hybrid version of aquaculture and hydroponics, provides fish and vegetables for the village residents and its water supply comes from a rooftop rainwater gutter system. The Berea College Ecovillage is most definitely a hidden gem of sustainability.
University of Buffalo
The University of Buffalo in New York has a quarter-mile long array of solar panels which students call, the Solar Strand. A project started by the New York Power Authority and UB, the Strand is comprised of 3,200 panels and supplies a ceiling of 750 KW—a hugely significant amount of power directed to the university dormitories. (It has also saved approximately 184,000 gallons of gasoline). Walter Hood, a renowned landscape architect, designed the Solar Strand, and it is well-known for its artistic relevance and tendency to inspire wonderment, making it, not only a massive power supply but a kind of sculpture garden as well. It provides adequate space for outdoor classrooms when students and teachers sit beneath the shade of the many wide panels. Because of its accessibility to the public, it has provided a notable amount of educational opportunities for elementary, high school, and college students who get to closely interact with sustainable technology.
Michigan Technological University
Some schools may have an awesome climbing facility or basketball court, but students in the skiing and snowboarding clubs at Michigan Tech in Houghton get to use their own ski resort. Mont Ripley is one mile from campus and gives athletes bountiful possibilities, offering 112 acres of skiing, 24 trails, a 440 foot vertical drop, and hills for both beginners and experts. In November and December the resort is only operational on weekends, but from January to March, it is open 7 days a week. Students in the Nordic Ski Club have an even greater opportunity with the option to use 58 different pairs skis owned by the university. Those who have never been skiing or snowboarding before need not worry, for experienced athletes at Michigan Tech and the Mont Ripley Snow School give lessons, carefully guiding students over the snowy landscape until they get their ski legs. Michigan Tech students can fulfill physical fitness requirements at the resort, while also learning how to ski and snowboard on some of the best terrains on any U.S. college campus.
University of Idaho
The University of Idaho in Moscow has what is considered the most elaborate and expansive archive of jazz music in the world. It began with the 1992 establishment of a collection containing papers, music, and photographs concerning one of the most significant jazz musicians of the 21st century, Lionel Hampton. This collection represented just the beginning of the International Jazz Collection which, because of its extensive contents, was merged with the Special Collections & Archives division of the UI Library. Today, it contains collections from musicians such as Dizzy Gillespie, Joe Williams, Conte Candoli, and many others. There are over 500 scores, 10,000 recordings, a slew of fliers, posters, and papers, all gathered to preserve the history of one of the world’s most complex and influential music genres.
California Technical Institute
Looking for a nice place to stop and smell the flowers? On the California Technical Institute campus in Pasadena, genetics students developed their own special, Caltech iris variant, which grows in the garden behind the Annenberg Auditorium. This small garden is a beautifully hidden space for picnics, small parties, outside study sessions, naps, or walks to clear one’s head between classes. Meetings and parties are scheduled in the iris garden where invited guests to the University may have cheese, wine, and beer. Not too many schools can boast a garden growing their own special variety of school irises, but this university has a space devoted to their own Caltech flowers.
Ferris State University
This public school in Big Rapids, Michigan, has one of the largest and most impressive ropes courses available on a college campus, and it is probably the only ropes course founded on Platonic and Aristotelian philosophies. FSU believes in cultivating the mind in academia, as well as in risk-taking and physical demand, in order to develop courage and quick thinking, in accordance with Greek philosophy. The ropes course offers a series of high and low features. The high elements are a sequence of cables and poles creating catwalks, tight rope walks, and balancing poles, reaching up to 30 feet off the ground. The low elements include more team focused exercises, each as challenging as the high elements, but without as much of a risk factor. The facility was designed for solo and team workshops and is run by professionals who oversee the routes and guide students through a cycle of puzzles, each more physically and mentally demanding than the last.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Relaxation should be the most important attribute of any college dormitory. Simmons Hall at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, located in Cambridge, does not lack in this type of amenities. 5,538 windows line Simmons Hall, where 340 MIT students live during the school year. Looking for a place to study? Try one of the dozens of lounges scattered throughout the dorm, and when students need to blow off some steam, they hop in the ball pit! Adorned with chalkboards and outfitted with study halls and labs, it is a perfect place to get homework done and afterward, grab some food in the dormitory dining hall. Simmons Hall hosts parties and plays movies on a two-story movie theater screen. Or, feel free to check out a movie from the front desk. Simmons is truly a gem among college dorms, and will only establish more special qualities that make it a fantastic place for any college student.
University of Texas at Dallas
Come bolster those chess playing skills on the UT Dallas outdoor chessboard. Founded in 2001 by a college professor of American literature, the UTD chess team is now internationally ranked. In recognition of their achievements, the university had a life-sized chess board installed into the architecture of the campus. Chess Plaza is located on the south end of the university mall and overlooks a massive fountain, giving students a beautiful view of the campus while they partake in an intellectual and worthwhile pastime that is highly encouraged and reinforced by the university. Some courses at UT Dallas involve playing chess games in the classroom and the university regularly hosts chess conferences which are attended by people from across the nation. The Chess Society welcomes players at all levels and sponsors an annual “Chessfest:” a solid week of chess playing and chess-related events.
Student research of the final frontier is well underway at the Auburn University in Alabama. Auburn students have been progressing the knowledge of CubeSat technology since the foundation of the space program in 2002. CubeSat makes satellite science, research, and technology, more approachable and applicable at a student level and has contributed to the ever-expanding knowledge of outer space. Auburn participated in NASA’s Educational Launch of Satellites program in 2013 and launched AubieSat-1 into space. The college satellite was developed to test two types of solar panel encapsulation and degradation. Upon its launch, Aubiesat-1 began transmitting the Auburn song, “War Eagle,” in Morse code, back to earth and through the university website. It is still possible to track the Auburn satellite’s location over Earth (and hear the song!). CubeSat research is ever-growing at Auburn, and space exploration is at students’ fingertips.
In 1999, Johan Kugelberg, a music industry executive, formed a collection of hip hop music and artifacts, chronicling the music movement in America. In 2007, Kugelberg donated his collection, which he called “Born in the Bronx,” consisting of over 400 event posters and hundreds of vinyl records to Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. This donation spurred the creation of the Cornell Hip Hop Collection (CHHC) which is made up of the archives from many different, and thorough, collectors. Today, the collection houses over 15,000 pieces of rare hip hop paraphernalia: records, CDs, flyers, posters, films, and photographs. Interested listeners can find digital copies of the music in the archives as well, instead of using the original recordings, in order to keep from damaging them. The CHHC was established to preserve the knowledge and appreciation for hip hop. It is open to any and all of those who are inspired by the music and are interested in researching it in intricate detail.
West Virginia University
Adventure WV began as an outdoor-based orientation program for first-year students at West Virginia University in Morgantown. Today, the university has incorporated programs for students of all levels. Most recently, Adventure WV partnered with the Division of Forestry and Natural Resources Department to design and build a zip line canopy tour in the forest just off WVU main campus. Perhaps the first most elaborate zip line course on any U.S. college campus, canopy tours are open to groups of students, classes, and the public. There are four lines throughout the course that send riders at speeds over 30 miles per hour! Six stations connect the lines, giving riders ample opportunities to take in the beautiful forest surrounding WVU. A 36-foot rappel drop delivers riders to the end of the course and a nature trail leads them back to the beginning. The course is great for beginners and children, with a station at the beginning of the course to prep riders for their canopy journey.
Sonoma State University
In Rohnert Park, California, just 10 miles outside of Santa Rosa, in the center of California wine country, lies Sonoma State University. This school is partnered with the Viticulture and Enology Science and Technology Alliance to offer a state-of-the-art wine business program. For all those with a passion for the subtle complexities of winemaking, Sonoma State provides experiences with local and renowned winemakers around California. SSU is the first school in the U.S. to offer a wine business program and gives students the opportunity to work with winery operators and grape growers. The program is sponsored by local farms and wineries like the Kokomo Winery and Timber Crest Farms, allowing students the chance to create their own varieties of Sonoma student wine. For those with an interest in the beverage but who are not set on a wine career, the Wine Sense Club is a responsible, educational group that teaches its members the ins and outs of winemaking, quality, and tasting.
Bowling enthusiasts ought to seek a career at Vincennes University in Indiana, the only school in the country to offer a bowling industry and technology management program. Students in this field learn all the techniques concerning operating a bowling business. In their very own 18-lane bowling alley, bowling majors learn pinsetter mechanics, bowling ball design and construction, and have opportunities to work with the biggest bowling industries in the country, such as Brunswick Bowling & Billiards and Bowlmor AMF. Students also accrue public speaking and business acumen in this area of study, preparing them for a wide range of business management under the instruction of Gary Sparks, who holds a place in the NJCAA Coaches Hall of Fame.
University of Akron
Comic book, science fiction, and cosplay fans at the University of Akron in Ohio don’t have to travel all the way to California for comic book conventions, because they have their own Akron Comic-Con. During the first-ever convention on Akron campus in November 2013, 37 comic book creators were in attendance, as well as vendors with rows upon rows of tables stacked high with comic books, sci-fi novels, action figures, board games, classic TV-shows, and movies. Only in its second year running, if attendance remains strong, it will become a fabulous tradition. For those who feel at home dressed in steampunk gear or a life-sized Chewbacca outfit, the University of Akron hosts this weekend-long event with discount tickets for students. Anime and fan artists have work on display and are ready and willing to network with interested graphic designers, fellow artists, and fans of Doctor Who, Naruto, and Fullmetal Alchemist, as well as give tips about life as an artist in the comic convention world.
Robert Morris University
This Chicago university recognizes the vast American video game culture and is the first school ever to offer an athletic based scholarship for players of the multiplayer online battle arena, League of Legends (specifically referred to as an “e-sport”). The concept was devised and implemented by the associate athletic director, Kurt Melcher, at Robert Morris, a video game fan himself, who recognized the need for an outlet through which students could exercise their love of strategy based, multiplayer video games. Fully endorsed by the university president and administration, this scholarship identifies the fast-growing popularity of gaming, and the social atmosphere it has created for its players online to connect with one another, build relationships, and share ideas and strategies. The school provides competitive opportunities for players to challenge each other and build rapport as an official League of Legends school team.
University of Alaska Fairbanks
For those with a drive for icy adventures and scaling snowy mountain peaks, the University of Alaska Fairbanks’ department of recreation, adventure, and wellness will satisfy anyone’s love for cold sports. The department offers credits in mountaineering, wilderness leadership, and ice climbing. Hiking, camping, and climbing trips are regularly scheduled throughout the year and gear is available for rent, giving beginner and experienced outdoorsmen the chance to develop the necessary survival skills and techniques for executing a treacherously chilly adventure. The campus has over 1,000 skiable acres, as well as areas to snowboard and is, of course, surrounded by massive expanses of Alaskan mountain ranges. Natural and marine science majors have particularly applicable opportunities to enhance their outdoor skills in tandem with their study of the earth.
Beautiful study spaces can change everything about a college campus, and at Boston University, students can find solace in the school atriums. Views from the Student Village, popularly referred to as “StuVi,” overlook the Charles River and the city of Boston. The residence hall is a special place, available only to juniors and seniors, although, a “student village phase II” project is in effect—a new space will be constructed for freshman and sophomore students to have the same amenities as upperclassmen. In the school of law, at the very center of BU campus, in the Summer M. Redstone building, students can find comfort in the Butler Atrium which has study spaces, lockers, and couches on the first floor, with its own special view of the Charles River, and dining facilities on the second floor, creating a perfect space for those long group study sessions.
This small college in Conway, Arkansas, requires students to create and execute projects that put their interests, skills, and education to practical use in its Odyssey Program. This program is designed to connect students with the needs and necessities of their community, using their own pursuits to create positive change within the world. Each student is required to build at least three projects from the six allotted Odyssey categories: Artistic Creativity, Global Awareness, Professional Leadership & Development, Service to the World, Undergraduate Research, and Special Projects. There are pre-approved projects within each category, or students can build their own independent project (as long as it is approved by the Odyssey staff). Each category provides Hendrix students with the opportunity to extend their academic knowledge into a new setting that allows them to network with individuals, institutions, and companies while developing new connections and skills.
University of California, Davis
There is no better university to learn the science and art of brewing beer than at the University of California, Davis. This program prepares its students for professional level brewing and is the only school in the country recognized by the Institute of Brewing and Distilling (IBD) in London for its exceptionally legitimate brewing education. It is the only school in the country to provide a university level qualification course and exam in brewing science. Seven courses introduce students to the different aspects of brewing. The Master Brewers Program is a highly competitive and intensive course that prepares students for the IBD Diploma in Brewing Exam, which is internationally recognized as the most well-founded brewer qualification. Although this program is designed for those seeking to dramatically progress their brewing knowledge, there are opportunities available for beginner and hobby brewers as well.
Northern Kentucky University
Northern Kentucky University in Highland Heights, Kentucky, is the home of what might be the most serious and fanatic Rock-Paper-Scissors Club in the nation. There is a series of competing teams on campus and a series of rules and regulations has been handed down that specifies appropriate behavior and rules while participating in a match. R-P-S and cornhole competitions are scheduled on campus, giving winners the opportunity to win raffle prizes and socialize with other rock-paper-scissors fans. This strange and intriguing “sport” on NKU campus exemplifies the school’s willingness to participate in whatever undertaking, sport, or hobby in which students may find an active interest.
Ever been at loss about what to put on those blank dormitory walls? Not into Animal House posters or the same photo of Bob Marley that everyone seems to have? At the beginning of every semester, Oberlin College in Ohio hosts an art rental program, renting out famous paintings to students for $5 a piece. The Oberlin Museum has a massive archive of priceless paintings, and so, to increase artistic appreciation and knowledge throughout the campus, as well as generate revenue for the museum, for a small fee, students have the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to have brilliant works of art hang on their very own walls. The collection includes works from artists such as Warhol, Picasso, Goya, and many others. Lines form long before the art rental program opens; students pitch tents and take sleeping bags to ensure a good spot in line the night before they choose which paintings they’ll have for the next semester.
Thrill seekers at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg have an easy source for their adrenaline fix in the Skydiving Club. Whether students are experienced or beginner skydivers, once in the club, they have the opportunity to jump out of airplanes every weekend. The group has been active since 1980 and whether members want to jump as regularly as every weekend, or once every couple of weeks, the club is there to assist whoever is looking for an easy and safe chance to mark one experience off of the proverbial bucket list. Students can jump in tandem with instructors upon every trip, or, in an 8 hour course, they can become a certified skydiver themselves and jump without the assistance of a professional. The club also participates in competitive jumping and parachuting with other groups across the country, and is involved in events such as 2 and 4 way diving, accuracy, and free flying.
University of Washington
In 1961 the University of Washington in Seattle, constructed a nuclear reactor on its campus, providing students with the opportunity for hands-on nuclear physics education. Throughout the next several decades, interest in the department steadily declined, until, in 1988, the school closed the reactor and removed the nuclear waste to the Hanford Site, a nuclear waste holding complex in Benton County, WA. Today, it is known as the More Hall Annex, and, because of the efforts of a dedicated U of W school of architecture student, the shell of the nuclear reactor remains on campus today, officially designated as a national landmark. Students can explore the unused building and look down into the old reactor. The building is an example of the popular 1950s architecture style known as Brutalism—a rough, concrete design, exposing wooden elements beneath. Current plans for the abandoned nuclear building remain in progress.
In Township, New Jersey, at the eighth oldest in the country, Rutgers University, students can take free tours of their very own campus geology museum. Founded in 1872, the collection, just like the institute itself, is one of the oldest in the nation and is primarily focused on the natural history of New Jersey. The museum offers learning opportunities concerning the geology, paleontology, and anthropology of the surrounding area. One room contains a massive mastodon fossil. Other rooms house ancient minerals available for study and examination. Students have the opportunity to volunteer or become employees at the museum. It is a choice location for events and birthday parties and frequently features new and exciting exhibits, such as the Hispanic Dance Workshop where attendants learned the history of Hispanic dance culture and then performed traditional Puerto Rican dances!
University of Wisconsin, Madison
The student union at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, Union South, is a study space and relaxation paradise. The building is based on Frank Lloyd Wright designs and is located, as the name implies, in south campus. Students with lots of work to do often visit the sun garden, which has three story windows, and when they are finished and ready to have fun, can go to the bowling alley, movie theater, or wine and coffee bar! Climbers can route around on the two-story climbing wall or bouldering wall and there are pool tables, couches, and scores of large-screen TVs. Student bands can organize concerts on the Union South stage (university hosted bands play there as well) and fans can watch the music on the ground floor or from the balcony. Visiting parents can book rooms at the Union South Hotel which has 60 available rooms and is only a short walk to the main campus.
University of Massachusetts, Boston
At the Venture Development Center (VDC) at the University of Massachusetts Boston, teams of students from many universities around the state meet to interface, gather entrepreneurial advice from professionals on staff, and eventually, create their own start-up company. The VDC is one of the most well-respected business development centers in the nation and was created in order to streamline the process of building and executing a project, or company, without having to fight to establish contacts and prestige. It has helped many student teams go on to create multi-million dollar companies. Small groups of students from universities such as MIT, Harvard, and Yale, work with companies in Boston to develop their business know-how, giving them real-world experience, rather than developing knowledge without the necessary hands-on skill. There are offices and labs available in an 18,000-square-foot, awarding-winning workspace and science labs are fully equipped and ready for use. There are cozy seats and broad tables for working and designated work pods for meetings.
University of California, Irvine
Over the years, the UC Irvine campus in California has collected donations from several sculpture artists, establishing a hauntingly beautiful campus motif. Nancy Doran donated 12 white Carrara marble statues which depict human beings crawling from between the slabs of concrete that contain them, staring down students walking the path in the Science Library Mesquite Garden Plaza. In the courtyard of Humanities Hall, Joan Krieger erected her Water Wall sculpture, which stands like Arthur C. Clark’s monolith, overlooking UCI students. Gus Hrushka built the Infinity Fountain, featuring a metal ring in the shape of a never-ending Möbius band that spouts water in the middle of a pool outside of Rowland Hall, a physics building on campus. But, perhaps the most beautiful sculptures on UCI campus are hidden in Aldridge Park. The Jao Family Sculpture garden contains marble statues of the poet Li Bai, the philosopher Lao-Zi, the politician Qu Yuan, and the Taoist goddess, Magu. These white marble statues stand surrounded by moss, stones, and plant life, and seem like specters, floating about the garden.
This small university in Berrien Springs, Michigan, has an 11-mile trail snaking throughout the northwest side of campus, known as the Andrews Trails. It is considered the best kept Andrews University secret by students, faculty, and staff. 10 miles of trail are available for mountain biking, and the entirety is open for backpacking and camping. For runners, there is a beautiful, convenient, and challenging 2-mile loop. Considered a major asset to the health and wellness of the university populous, the trail is surrounded by the beautiful Michigan hardwood forest, vineyards, and nurseries. The streams, ponds, and lakes scattered throughout the greater part of the AU campus and Berrien Springs offer wonderful fishing opportunities, as well. Andrews is a designated arboretum, so whether they are in the woods or on a trail, students are surrounded by natural beauty.
Ohio State University
On the 5th floor of the Smith Laboratory on Ohio State University campus, is a 63-seat, 30-foot digital dome planetarium theater that has hosted astronomy nights for nearly 40 years. The space features a high definition, Spitz XD digital projector capable of illuminating 1,500 stars to its viewers, as well as showing the full swing of planetary, solar, and lunar paths of motion, and the past and theoretical future history of our galaxy. Due to some structural problems because of its age, the planetarium was closed briefly in 2012 for renovations, and today, it is one of the most high-tech domes on a U.S. campus. The renovations were funded by the astronomy department and the Arts and Sciences College and included the installation of new seats and a 5.1 digital sound system, creating a state-of-the-art, outer space viewing center for OSU students.
University of Connecticut
The University of Connecticut campus in Storrs sports its own ice cream bar, where all the products are made from the milk of the University of Connecticut cows. The owner and operator of the UConn Dairy Bar, a UConn alumnus who studied agriculture and animal sciences, trains her employees on dozens of interesting and educational facts concerning their local products. The workers are required to visit the Kellogg Dairy Center, home to a herd of over 200 head of Holstein and Jersey cattle, and milk the cows, in order to fully understand the process of milk-to-ice cream production. In this way, any ice cream lover can have all of their ice cream questions answered while enjoying delicious, sustainable, locally produced treats.