It is a university’s responsibility to keep students happy, interested and occupied, both inside and outside of the classroom. Young men and women across the country work hard, stressful hours in their college careers, and deserve all of the benefits and extras that a college campus can offer. It is crucial for students to be comfortable and excited at the prospect of living at a school that will be their home for 4 years or more. Without plenty of activities, places to visit and eat, and programs to take advantage of, it might not seem worth all the work if students aren’t having fun. This list of 30 colleges with the best extras offers a group of schools with exciting events, festivals, programs, organizations, facilities, and amenities provided on their campuses. It is meant to introduce students to schools that allocate proper funds and resources to campus and student life.
The primary criteria for the list was based on the availability of student programs, impressive on-campus facilities, and events offered on each school’s campus, all of which clearly show commitment to the dynamics of the college experience.
Kennesaw State University
Kennesaw State University in Georgia has the largest LEED-Gold certified dining hall in the nation, The Commons, at 54,000 square feet, is a dining hall that contains nine separate eating locations where hungry students can browse through selections of fresh, sustainably produced, farm-to-table menu items. The space feeds an average of 30,000 guests per week—faculty, students, staff, and community members—who come for the over 130 different delicious selections served every single day. 40% of the produce is obtained locally, 20% is grown on KSU farms, KSU chickens produce more than 300 eggs per week, and there is a 2,500 square foot on-site herb and mushroom garden. All pork, chicken, and specialty meats are locally raised. Vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free diet plans designed by in-house dietitians are readily available, and The Commons offers courses concerning the importance of a healthy diet and cooking techniques. If the nine locations in The Commons are just not enough, there are seven other eateries on campus such as the KSU sports bar, The Hoot, Jazzman’s Café and Bakery, Chick-Fil-A Express, Burrito Bowl, Delancey New York Deli, Freshëns, and Hissho Sushi—a delicious collection of KSU dining opportunities.
University of Maryland
There are 800 student clubs to choose from at the University of Maryland in College Park. Whether students are interested in bolstering their academic expertise, playing outside, or connecting with others of the same religion, U of M has a club to suit anyone. There are over 60 club sports including fencing, mixed martial arts, hockey, ultimate frisbee, and shotgun shooting, and there are 164 different academic based clubs, many of which are pointed toward community service. Students have plenty of opportunities to connect with like minds in organizations centered around concepts such as feminism, religion, art and graphic design, leadership, and construction. The Mighty Sound of Maryland, a marching band that is over 250 strong, representing students of all different majors, music and non-music alike, is perhaps the most impressive student organization on campus. Students who audition for this group have the opportunity to play at every home game, in a stadium with a capacity of 50,000 people, and to travel to at least one away game per year. There are also free workshops and programs, concerts, and exhibits on U of M campus. U of M also has fabulous housing amenities, on and off campus. Students living in University View, for example, an off-campus housing complex, have some extravagant features to make use of, including multiple study rooms with high-speed, wireless internet access, a game room with an Xbox 360, a Wii, multiple plasma screen TVs, shuffleboard, and billiards tables. The fitness complex has dozens of pieces of work out equipment as well as tanning facilities. There is also a shuttle service that busses students to and from campus that runs until 3 AM.
Seton Hall University
This small Roman Catholic university in South Orange, New Jersey, takes good care of students with its Mobile Technology Program. Once incoming students arrive for orientation at Seton Hall University, each are given the latest and most technologically advanced Microsoft PC available on the market, with dozens of state-of-the-art programs and wireless connectivity installed on the hard drive. This program was instituted in 1998 in an effort to broaden students’ academic careers and connection with other students and professors in the university, and across the globe. For the class of 2016, students in science or honors programs will receive a free Samsung Slate PC, a tablet that allows for yet even more academic and technological convenience, and they will also receive a Nokia Lumia 900 with a pre-installed data, voice, and text plan. A walk-in tech support system is available to help students with any and all of their problems and questions, and the Teaching Learning Technology Center provides classes for those interested in learning more about their laptops, tablets, and phones, as well as maintenance for their devices. SHU has special partnerships with Microsoft, AT&T and Nokia that allow for such technological accessibility.
Musicians looking for fabulous music-driven amenities should look to the Oberlin College Conservatory of Music in Ohio, one of the best, oldest, and most well-funded music programs in the country. A collection of over 1,500, state-of-the-art instruments are available for students who enrolled in the Conservatory to use, including over 200 Steinway pianos, 12 organs, and dozens of orchestral and baroque instruments. Most of the Conservatory of Music facilities are located in three adjoining buildings: Bibbins Hall, Robertson Hall, and the Central Unit, designed by renowned architect, Minoru Yamasaki, who also designed the World Trade Center. It contains 5 concert halls, an impressive music library, numerous classrooms, 150 practice rooms (with windows!), each outfitted with its own Steinway grand. There is a huge amount of strange and impressive collections housed in the Conservatory, such as the Ethnomusicology Collection, containing hundreds of different exotic instruments from around the world; the Selch Collection of American Music History includes over 700 instruments, 9,000 volumes (most of which are rare first editions), as well as a plethora of other precious, historical, musical objects; In 2010, the Conservatory opened the Bertram and Judith Kohl Building, home to the new Jazz Studies Program and the Jim and Susan Neumann Jazz Collection, which is one of the largest jazz archives in the nation, containing over 100,000 recordings, posters, and program notes. Also, because of this huge collection of programs and facilities, there are dozens of concerts and recitals planned throughout the weeks at Oberlin College.
University of Nebraska—Lincoln
Athletes and researchers at the University of Nebraska—Lincoln have the most colossal sports science and wellness facilities in the country. The Nebraska Athletic Performance Lab in Memorial Stadium takes up multiple floors—over 23,000 square feet of space, offering unmatched capabilities and advancements in sports science. The Performance Lab is associated with the various varsity and club sports offered at UNL, which extend from basketball and football to bowling and riflery, as well as academic departments that conduct and apply findings from the research of “everything from the biomechanics of elite athletes to athletic and nutrition supplements to biomarkers that measure saliva and recovery time to cardiovascular research to athletic equipment issues such as helmet and footwear design.” The Sports Nutrition Department educates athletes on proper diet, nutrition, and “fueling” during workouts and competitions. UNL is one of six universities in the country to employ two full-time nutritionists that are available to guide students and athletes through proper nutrition and diet techniques. The Training Table offers individualized meal plans that are unique to each student, giving them a prescribed diet. The UNL Athletic Medicine Center is one of the most technologically advanced medical and rehab facilities in the country. There are pools with underwater cameras to more properly track and assess injuries, there are cold tanks, on-site emergency medical equipment, a licensed pharmacy, and private areas for X-rays and physical exams. The Dick and Peg Herman Family Student Life Complex, which opened in 2010, is a $10.5 million expansion that tripled the size of the UNL’s academic facilities and contains numerous computer labs, study areas, and classrooms. This edition furthers the connection between athletics and academia on campus, making UNL a hub among university athletic programs.
University of Michigan
Students with a passion for multicultural affairs have luxurious living arrangements at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. In 2010, the University opened this $175 million investment, the North Quadrangle Residential and Academic Complex, known simply as “the North Quad” by U of M students. This academic building/dormitory hybrid is housing designed for students in international and intercultural programs and is meant to increase multicultural awareness across campus. The dorm houses 450 students, sophomores and above, in single, double, and triple occupancy rooms with lounges, couches, and private and semi-private bathrooms. There are classrooms with video teleconferencing capabilities and Smart Boards, and there are study rooms with flat-screen TVs. A dining hall is located within the complex that was awarded dining gold status by the National Association of College and University Food Services in 2011. The menu includes items such as salmon filet, lamb steaks, and sometimes, even delicacies such as shark. Academic amenities within the complex include a television production studio with a support services for any students or faculty with troubleshooting needs, a Community Learning Center, study halls, collaborative workspaces, lounges on each floor, as well as offices for the School of Information, Communication Studies, Screen Arts and Cultures, the Language Resource Center, and the Sweetland Writing Center. Multicultural events and festivals are also scheduled at the North Quad. In other words, some U of M don’t even have to leave their dorm for a rich college experience.
University of Texas at Austin
At the University of Texas at Austin the museums, galleries, theaters, and libraries are the “gems of the university.” The Blanton Museum of Art has a standing collection of 17,000 pieces of artwork from American, Latin, and European artists. The Blanton complex is two adjoined buildings, The Edgar A. Smith Building and the Mary and James A. Michener Gallery Building, that has a café, gift shop, an auditorium for guest speakers, as well as several rooms available for fancy events. The Dolph Briscoe Center for American History has many collections representing a broad spectrum of U.S. history, for example in the American South exhibit, which has been built upon since its creation in 1883 is considered the most impressive array of Southern American history on a college campus. The Briscoe Center recently received a massive amount of music and concert paraphernalia from country music icon, Willie Nelson, which is available for students to peruse. Students looking for peaceful outdoors time check out the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, created in 1982 to preserve the nation’s beautiful flowers. Events, parties, gardening days, and photo contests are scheduled at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower center throughout the year, such as Nature Nights, Luminations, and National Wildflower Week. The Department of Theater and Dance and the Texas Performing Arts host concerts, dances, and plays, with discounted tickets available for students. Music events range from professional artists to student bands, and there are many such venues to visit across campus—the Union Underground (which also has a 12-lane bowling alley and billiards tables) is a great place to relax and see some music; the Visual Arts Center shows strange and fascinating student and professional exhibits; the Black Box Theater is good to take in a play, and the Bass Concert Hall in the Performing Arts Center has more professional music events. The Texas Memorial Museum was built on campus in 1932 after Texas politicians realized that there was no Texas state museum! The TMM is thus very well-funded and has a vast collection of ancient plant and animal fossils, and full dinosaur skeletal structures, such as the Quetzalcoatalus northropi, which has a wingspan of over 40 feet, the largest flying creature ever found. If these glorious concert halls, theaters, and museums are not keeping students’ minds occupied outside of class and schoolwork, there are also hundreds of thousands of books, musical scores, CDs DVDs to choose from at the Fine Arts Library.
University of California, Santa Cruz
It might be hard to get work done at the University of California, Santa Cruz, simply because the campus is so magnificently beautiful, environmentally wild, and filled with exciting events and outdoor adventures that keep students healthy, happy, and thriving. The Outdoors Program has an abundance of workshops and classes available for interested students, as well as rafting, kayaking, surfing, survival skills and wilderness orientation programs, and trips that students can plan and customize themselves with funding from the university. There are hiking and backpacking trips, as well as day trips to the aquarium and the Sky High Trampoline Center. UCSC is committed to keeping its student population healthy and motivated by improving leadership and team building skills, and there are open opportunities to practice these skills with friends and professors in the Experiential Learning Program. The Holistic Health Program is unique, in that it is focused on the health of body, mind, spirit, and the environment at UC Berkeley and plans and organizes events around this mission. There are also large events on campus such as the Annual Santa Cruz Chocolate Festival. The Marine Discovery Center allows students a glimpse into the lives of marine biologists as well as the marine life that exists so close to campus. Here, students can pet friendly sharks, learn fun facts about the ocean and its creatures, and participate in workshops and lectures.
University of Chicago
Not only are the library facilities at the University of Chicago in Illinois architecturally magnificent, but the features and volumes within the libraries themselves are also far-reaching. There is a total of 6 libraries on campus: the Joseph Regenstein Library, the John Crerar Library, the D’Angelo Law Library, the Eckhart Library, the Mansueto Library, and the School of Social Services Administration Library. According to the Association of Research Libraries, as of 2014 the UC library is the 9th largest in the nation, and the number one best college library in the nation according to the Princeton Review. The UC libraries contain over 12.6 million volumes in print and electronic form, some of which are quite rare and valuable. The Harper Library, which has been reformed into an elaborate reading room and study space, is the most impressive building on UC campus. Built in 1912, it houses several large study spaces, such as the beautiful Arley D. Cathey Learning Center, which has exquisite windows and is adorned with ancient coats of arms. It is intended for quiet study and research, but it is also equipped with The Common Knowledge Café, which serves coffee to hard-working students every weekday from 9-12 AM. The Al Weisman Corner carries over 80 magazine subscriptions for students to stay up to date on current events. The Harper Library also has a suite of classrooms, and the North Reading Room hosts the College Core Tutoring Program, a free, drop-in service for students struggling in math and science courses. The libraries have been active, gathering and accommodating research texts, and assisting graduate, undergraduate, and unaffiliated scientists and researchers for over 120 years. There are scores of computers available, as well as a guide on the library’s website to show students which computer stations are occupied on campus. After all the work is done, students attend events hosted by the UC Arts Department, which has a consistently booked schedule of exciting, interesting (and free) exhibits, plays, and musical events. In 2001, the university took the initiative to reinvigorate its arts program and built a number of new buildings and renovated the old, such as the Washington Park Arts Incubator. There are dozens of galleries, music venues, and theaters in the art facilities on UC campus, and the Arts Program is also affiliated with numerous professional theaters and companies throughout the city.
University of California, San Diego
At the University of California, San Diego in La Jolla, with unlimited access to the beach, there are dozens of water sports clubs, including dragon boating, sailing, surfing, and water polo. If the Pacific is not enough ocean to satisfy an adventurous spirit, students are offered discounted admission to the Birch Aquarium—home to over 60 aquatic animal habitats, and the center for the famous Scripps Institution of Oceanography, one of the largest, oldest, and most exemplary programs for the advancement of ocean, earth, and atmospheric science research in the world. At Birch, students can learn more about the imposing ocean life that surrounds them, as well meet and pet some friendly aquatic creatures. For marine biology and oceanography majors, this institution owns four sea-faring vessels for the observation and further analysis of oceanographic behaviors. Outback Adventures, UCSD’s outdoor recreation program, provides bountiful resources for those looking for a new experience. Students can start a trip at the Rental Shop which has everything from horseshoes to surfboards to tents and sleeping bags, and continue their journey with Outback Adventures’ sponsored wilderness orientation trips to locations such as the Sierra Nevada’s, as well as day trips to the beach for snorkeling, sea kayaking, and tall ship sailing. When students are tired after all of the endless opportunities available on UCSD campus, the dorms are equipped with high speed Internet access and HBO. Many of the dormitories have incredible ocean views and have indoor activities available and scheduled for much needed study breaks. After all of the studying and adventuring is done for the day, students retreat to The Loft for snacks and free concerts from popular artists.
California Institute of Technology
Access to proper research resources is pivotal to a well-rounded academic career. Students at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena have the opportunity to utilize research programs specifically designed and implemented in on-campus advanced analytic labs and supercomputers invented by Caltech researchers, scientists, and engineers. The university owns and operates satellites and observatories stationed throughout North and South America as well as Antarctica, “giving astronomers, physicists, and engineers from across the globe an unparalleled view of the universe.” The Jet Propulsion Laboratory is famous for its premier work on the advancement of rockets and rocket science. It pre-dates NASA, back to the first design and implementation of rockets, and helped to send the first American satellite, Explorer 1, into space in 1957. Today the JPL is affiliated with NASA researchers and scientists and continues the ever-expanding knowledge of rockets and space travel (and it contains millions of dollars worth of cutting-edge, scientific machinery). Many other research facilities include the Joint Center for Artificial Photosynthesis, which is the nation’s leading program on the development of artificial solar fuel, the shock and wind tunnels for fluid mechanics and aircraft simulation, gene sequencing facilities, numerous specialized research labs, as well as GPS and seismic networks for studying earthquakes around the globe. The research capabilities at Caltech have singularly increased the knowledge of astronomy, physics, and engineering.
Georgia Institute of Technology
The Aquatic Facility at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta is, essentially, an indoor water park for adults. There is a 184 foot, curly water slide that winds down into the Vernon D. and Helen D. Crawford Pool, which is comprised of a lazy river, a shallow play area, six 25 yard lanes, a diving well, a hot tub, and a 16-person spa with an outdoor patio. Adjacent to the Crawford Pool is the competition pool, which was originally built for the 1996 Olympic Games. It is the home of the Georgia Tech Swimming and Diving Team, one of the fastest in the world, and is also a space for recreational swimming and exercise. There are youth and adult swimming classes, offered in group, private, and semi-private lessons, lifeguard certification courses, group swims, and races offered at the Aquatic Facility. It is a great place to blow off some steam after a long day of classes and studying, and there is also reservation space for parties. Students interested in recreational swimming have the option to join the Swim Club, Water Polo Club, Canoe and Kayak Club, Triathlon Club, or Scuba Diving Club. Scuba Divers can rent expensive, quality, university equipment, rather than buying their own, and take a yearly diving trip to island countries such as Bonaire in the Caribbean. The Campus Recreation Center offers some striking features of its own—the H20 Café overlooks the Crawford Pool and serves Freshëns smoothies, snacks, and Starbucks coffee; the game room at the CRC hosts ping pong tournaments, and other games and equipment can be checked out from the front desk.
University of California, Los Angeles
When it comes to art and design amenities, the University of California, Los Angeles’ vast Design Media Arts Program and its array of resources and facilities will fulfill any student artist’s wildest dreams. Located in The Broad Art Center on campus, a beautiful, newly renovated space that contains both the DMA Department and the Art Department, this program gives students access to the most up-to-date design equipment in the country. Students can begin a project by constructing pieces in the Fabrication Lab, which contains power tools, table saws, routers, sanders, as well as all of the wood, metal, or plastic needed to complete a project. Adjacent to the Fabrication Lab, students can create electronic and computing components in the Electronics Lab, a facility that strives to break from standard monitor and laptop computing and, instead, manipulate the raw computing elements themselves. Soldering equipment, power supplies, multimeters, oscilloscopes, basic computing components, and microcontrollers are available in the Electronics Lab, putting the computing ingredients, unconfined by monitors or keyboards, directly into the hands of the student artist. The Print Lab is equipped with high-quality, laser printers, standard and poster-sized, as well as video and photo equipment rental and instructional booklets for the complex machinery. Perhaps the most exciting room in The Broad Art Building, The Game Lab, is available for students interested in the design and engineering of computer games. This lab is highly focused on the aesthetics, context, and genre of each computer game that is developed under its roof and is constantly seeking further advancement of gaming platforms and interfaces. For students outside of the art departments, there are galleries showing the elaborate art pieces constructed by their peers, an Arts Library, and group research spaces within The Broad Art Building. While artists should be excited about these tremendous resources, the entire student body has over 1,000 clubs and organizations to choose from, such as recreational art clubs where non-art majors can utilize impressive resources. The university also sponsors campus events during the year, such as Brain Bruin, a weekend-long concert that has hosted headlining artists such as, Jay-Z, T.I., and LMFAO.
Middlebury College in Vermont has a collection of fun, strange, and delightful traditions that are dearly cherished by the student body. During the first weekend of school, Midd College starts the year off with Fall Frenzy, a weekend of free concerts, outdoor activities and games, and picnics serving delicious food from the professional chefs of the university dining service. Midnight Breakfast is offered at the three, unique campus dining halls during the busy, stressful, (and appetite provoking) final exam periods. J-term is a unique experience in which students stop their normal schedules and enroll in only one class, taught by one instructor, for an entire month. These classes are conducted on and off campus and give students the opportunity to immerse themselves in quirky, fascinating subjects, such as Lego robot construction and dance workshops, which are then put on display in exhibitions and recitals. During J-term, The Hunt takes place—an epic, three-day scavenger hunt, devilishly designed by the Hunt Masters. This search demands cunning, creative, historical, mathematical, and theoretical thinking. Students form groups to tackle the intricate clues and puzzles and the winners receive $1,000 in “Midd Money” which can be used at many local venues around campus and town. The Winter Carnival is the oldest tradition on campus; for the past 90 years at Middlebury, students and community members have participated in this February weekend of celebration and revelry—bonfires, fireworks, local food, concerts, snow sculptures, ice shows, the Midd Panther ski races, and the Winter Carnival Ball.
In Providence, Rhode Island, Brown University has a calendar of events that, on any given day during the academic year, is absolutely full of on-campus opportunities. The 400+ student organizations on campus add greatly to the fully booked calendar, as do the prominent speakers and professional musicians visiting campus. The electronic calendar on the BU website is incredibly detailed and organized, keeping the student body well-informed of all of the different events happening on campus. It is classified into separate pages, such as Arts and Entertainment, for exhibits and concerts, Biology and Medicine, for pertinent lectures, and Clubs and Organizations, which shows all of the events put on by student groups and clubs. The Art Department’s events, facilities, and galleries are particularly impressive. Located just over the hill from the Rhode Island School of Design and the RISD Museum, the two educational institutions often coordinate events and classes. At Brown, there are multiple multimedia labs with filmmaking, 3D animation, and large multi-computer teaching facilities; dark rooms for photograph development and large computer labs with first-rate printing capabilities, and multiple venues for presentations and lectures. The club sports available offer a broad spectrum of activities as well, including polo, ice hockey, skiing, and taekwondo, all of which have regularly scheduled competitions. Perhaps the most famous event on Brown campus is Spring Weekend, a tradition which began in 1950, and since then has brought famous, professional musicians to campus every year for an all-weekend music festival. While this party included acts from artists like Jefferson Airplane and Janis Joplin in the 1960s, today it features headliners such as Chance the Rapper and Diplo, silent raves, good food, and athletic events.
Texas Tech University
Texas Tech University in Lubbock built an $8.4 million outdoor leisure pool—the largest and most elaborate in the country. Completed in 2009, the Student Leisure Pool is the pinnacle of the Recreational Sports Department at TTU. It features a 645-foot lazy river, an 8-lane lap pool, a 25-person hot tub, a diving well with a diving board and drop slide, a snack bar, water basketball, volleyball courts, as well as numerous wading pools and fountains. Many students profess that it is a great place to relax after work or class or spend some quality time in the sun with friends and other students. There is ample space for suntanning, high-speed wireless access, and an abundance of inner tubes, rafts, and other water toys to play with, too. TTU also has an impressive indoor aquatic facility as well, that is “covered by one of the largest air-supported structures in the world,” which is used for varsity sports and water aerobics and swimming classes. The Fitness and Wellness program is available for students in further need of relaxation, offering massage therapy, group and private exercise training, and individualized wellness programs. For easy and relaxing transportation from the leisure pool, to dorm, to class (as well as weekend trips), the university has a free bike rental program with a bike shop open for all maintenance issues. The Recreational Sports Department has many other sports facilities on campus: 7 basketball courts, a climbing wall with over 4,000 square feet of wall, a 6,500 square foot free-weight room, a 5,300 square foot workout space with 180 pieces of equipment, 8 tennis courts, and a gazebo for picnics. Indeed, Texas Tech is in no short supply of relaxation facilities for its students.
University of Missouri
The University of Missouri, or Mizzou, in Columbia, brought the beach to a landlocked state. The Mizzou Aquatic Center has an indoor and an outdoor beach club that will satisfy any student’s need for a beach day. In 2005, UM completed The Tiger Grotto, a $38.9 million project with a zero-depth pool with a high-powered vortex, a lazy river, a waterfall, palm trees, rope bridges, lawn chairs, as well as pool-side waiters serving wraps, smoothies and protein shakes, which help complete the indoor beach club theme. Students often hit the beach club after long days in class, or after working out in one of the 5 exercise complexes on campus, representing hundreds of pieces of workout machinery. Water sports programs like Aqua Zumba and swimming lessons are offered in the Tiger Grotto, and around mid-April, once the spring-time sun is out, and the weather is clear, Truman’s Pond opens to students, UM’s outdoor version of the beach club. Here students will find floating lawn chairs, music, hot tubs and soaking pools, the perfect outlet for a fun day in the sun. UM also has a 50-meter swimming pool and a diving well for athletes who are less interested in tanning, and more interested in enhancing their athletic abilities. In any case, once the beach-need is satisfied, students can venture through the many parks and outdoor complexes located on campus.
West Virginia University
When it comes to finding something to do at West Virginia University in Morgantown, students look to the Mountainlair. Here they find games, food, study halls, and free campus events. The Mountainlair hosts concerts, such as the annual Battle of the Bands contest, where students and local musicians have a chance to take the stage. WVU also hosts the Campus MovieFest, “the world’s largest student film festival,” where student filmmaking groups construct five minute movies and have a chance to win cash prizes. Dancing with our Mountaineer Stars is a yearly event where students get to show off their skills and compete against one another. DWOMS is a charitable event, held in tandem with the Dancing with our Mountaineer Stars Blood drive, hosted by the Public Relations Student Society of America. While students are waiting and preparing for these campus events, and more, there is also a vast amount of other things to do in at the Mountainlair, such as bowling at the 16-lane bowling alley which hosts competitions and events, or playing on one of the 11 competition sized billiards tables. Students can shop and eat at 6 different locations in this elaborate student union, and there is plenty of space available for private events. WVUp All Night is an award winning late night program that started in 1998 in an effort to bring more life to the campus. There are free, late-night snacks, midnight breakfast, movies, games, and activities, as well as a comedy club featuring nationally touring comedians.
University of North Florida
In 2009, the University of North Florida opened a $86 million student housing investment called, Osprey Fountains, that has been likened to a resort. There is a pool with a lazy river, a putting green, a game room with pool, ping-pong, and air hockey tables, and all of the five floors have laundry facilities. The multiplex in Osprey Fountains has meeting rooms and study areas, with big comfy chairs and couches for students looking to get some group and solo projects done in a quiet workspace. There is an outdoor running track, as well as lighted volleyball, tennis, and basketball courts. With all of these glorious attributes, the most exciting part of Osprey Fountains is its six themed lounges: The Spotlight is used as an event space and hosts karaoke, comedy, and open-mic nights. The Upper-Deck is a sports lounge for those big game days that is set up with large plasma screen TVs. The Morgue is a 24-hour library and, while carrying a rather morbid moniker, is a great place for serious studiers. The B.L.O.C. is available for more relaxed study sessions. The Galaxy is an outlet for the gamers, with huge TVs and desk ports, students can set up multiple gaming stations and host UNF video game championships. Once students get hungry they can visit Joe’s Diner, a ‘50s themed restaurant. There is a shuttle service to take students to class, or they can take the wooden access bridge to campus (representing $1.5 million of the total amount spent). Osprey Fountains is a wonderful place to live, to be sure, but it is also a wonderful place to spend time with others, whether relaxing, playing, or getting some school work done. UNF also has magnificent outdoor opportunities away from Osprey Fountains—the golf complex is a 32-acre, 4-hole practice facility located in the south-east corner of campus, and is always open to students (the men’s and women’s golf teams have their own, private practice space). UNF campus is one of the only schools in the country with a Skate Park, which is open for use to students at their own risk and has multiple elements for different skill levels. The Challenge Course includes a zip-line complex and hosts several zip-line nights throughout the year.
Stanford University in California has an ever-expanding collection of campus opportunities. Stanford Live, an online, faculty-led organization that is committed to making new experiences available, is constantly promoting musical and multimedia events. There are four venues on campus that host concerts, plays, and dances throughout the year. The Bing Concert Hall is luxurious and beautiful and contains practice rooms, classrooms, study spaces, and most significantly, a vineyard style concert hall with 842 seats. There is a wide variety of shows scheduled at the Bing Concert Hall, such as the Stanford Symphony Orchestra, and more professional artists such as the 9 Grammy award-winning group, the Emerson String Quartet, another 4 Grammy award-winning artist, Dianne Reeves, who sings R&B, and the Ukrainian folk-punk group, DakhaBrakha. The Memorial Church seats 1,200 and shows events such as string quartets and professional dance companies. The Frost Amphitheater, an outdoor venue, serves refreshments and has available space for picnics and large groups, but the largest performance hall on Stanford campus is the Memorial Auditorium, which seats 1,705, and hosts the biggest events—plays, dances, and concerts—and is the home of the Department of Theater and Performing Arts. All student tickets are discounted. If these glorious opportunities do not speak to some students, there are also outdoor activities and trips to take part in. The Outreach Program is particularly impressive, as it assists high school students in outdoor education activities such as hiking, camping, and dining in the outdoors. The group takes weekend trips to beautiful locations close to campus, giving college and high school students the opportunity to visit the California wilderness and build friendships. For those interested in private trips, each year the university leases a cabin in Tahoe to students, where they can spend weekend getaways.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology takes students’ livelihoods and welfare into great consideration in the design of its numerous spectacular dormitories. Baker House is designed by renowned Finnish architect Alvar Aalto, who called the dorm’s design “a cross between a ski lodge and a ship.” Every room has a view of the Charles River and copious study areas, lounges, as well as its own dining hall. Burton Connor is a nine-story dorm where each of the rooms has its own unique design and theme. There is a house-gym and scheduled study breaks with activities like crafting, gardening, exercising, and dining with other occupants and housemasters. Burton Connor also participates in the house dining meal plan, in which students can more finely sculpt their culinary tastes and desires through the meals prepared in-house and served in the common spaces. The most impressive dorm on MIT campus is Simmons Hall, which has a student-run house-government. This governing body convenes bi-weekly to discuss any concerns and events that they would like to take place in their dorm. There are dozens of study areas, a two-story screen in the movie theater, movie rental opportunities at the front desk, a dining hall, and a ball pit! When students are ready to get off campus and explore the outdoors for a weekend, the MIT Outing Club owns two cabins in New Hampshire that they call, Camelot and Intervale III, which are both available for rent for a weekend visit. The Outing Club also has numerous hiking, camping, climbing (and ice climbing!), boating, and mountaineering opportunities as well as a gear rental service.
University of Central Florida
At the University of Central Florida in Orlando, the Outdoor Adventure Program is one of the finest in the nation. Being located so near to the coast, the university has a top-notch scuba diving program that is affiliated with Ranger Rick’s Scuba Adventure, a professional scuba outfitter in Orlando. The three-level scuba certification course offers UCF students all the knowledge and gear needed to perform a dive. Hiking, biking, and canoeing day trips are regularly scheduled, as well as longer trips to locations such as the Bahamas and the Grand Staircase in Utah. The Challenge Course is operated by professional facilitators who design unique programs for each participating group. There are high and low elements on an elaborate section of the course known as The Odyssey III. The Challenge Course was designed to enhance team building and leadership skills through a series of complex puzzles that can be done in under 2 hours or can take up to 7 hours to complete. Backpacking, camping, climbing, and water sports equipment such as kayaks, canoes, rowboats, paddle boats, surfboards, and scuba gear can be rented at the Outdoor Adventure Center, or at the boathouse on Lake Claire, free of charge. For 50 days from November to January, the university hosts the Light Up UCF festival outside the CFE Arena on campus, a holiday celebration with games, food, a Ferris wheel, an ice skating rink, a holiday film festival, and a light show. The Recreation and Wellness Center is the home location for all of the outdoor activities UCF has to offer, as well as two pools and a highly advanced gym.
University of Colorado Boulder
The Outdoor Program at the University of Colorado Boulder has opportunities that many universities do not offer. Surrounded by the lush and mountainous Colorado landscape, students can get a better view of the campus at the Challenge Course, which offers 42 foot high elements. Groups participating in these activities have a 2, 4, 6, or 8 hour program custom made for them, starting off with fun activities and games, and moving on to more complex puzzles and goals. During the winter, students have the chance to get to know the landscape better in a unique college program called, the Avalanche Awareness Course, which teaches the dynamics of an avalanche, proper maneuvering techniques through the harsh and snowy landscape, rescue methods, and forming snowpack structures. Another course and club at UC Boulder that is somewhat unique to a university campus, is the Fly Fishing Club. This club is welcoming to both beginner and expert fisherman who taking fishing trips regularly. Beginners are provided with all of the gear necessary for their first catch. Yet another exciting attribute of UC Boulder campus is the Ice Rink, “the only ice rink in Boulder”, which is available, with permission from the Rec Center, for group skates, hockey, and broomball. Students looking to learn more about their favorite hobbies, or find a new favorite hobby, attend the Wednesday Workshops, where they learn anything from snowboarding and skiing techniques and equipment tuning/maintenance to fly-tying for fishing to winter survival methods, such as structure building and edible wild plant identification. The Wilderness Medicine program certifies students in outdoor survival in a professional, three-day course. Students can utilize these new techniques on the many available ice and rock climbing and hiking trips. Every year there is an extended break trip to locations such as the Florida Keys, where students have the chance to spend a school break doing something new, fun, and relaxing away from campus. Of course, with the wonderful terrain available to them, there are an abundance of climbers at UC Boulder, and any student is welcome to try out the 7,000+ square foot wall in the campus Climbing Gym. Here, climbers can become certified in ropes and belay courses, there are classes for beginners, or those looking to enhance their skills, and gear is available for rent.
Oklahoma State University
Students enrolled at Oklahoma State University get to play on the best collegiate 18-hole golf course in the country, Karsten Creek. It is one of ten courses in the country to receive a 5-star ranking from Golf Digest and has helped the OSU Cowboys to rake in multiple awards and championship trophies throughout the decades. The Karsten Creek Clubhouse was completed in 2001 and represents a $4.5 million investment on behalf of the university and Karsten Solheim, to whom the course is dedicated. OSU has hosted the NCAA Golf Championships many times, which is a further testament to the beauty, accessibility, and challenging nature of the course. OSU also has an indoor golf training facility with highly advanced video recording equipment to analyze and enhance golf strokes that are reserved solely for team members. The Colvin Recreation Center, re-opened in 2004 after a $23 million renovation that expanded the space to 250,000 square feet, and was acknowledged as an Outstanding Sports Facility by the National Intramural-Recreational Sports Association in 2005. The renovation introduced new elements including 10 basketball courts, 2 cardio theater rooms, an indoor and an outdoor pool, a rock climbing wall, a putting green, and 2 golf simulators. The Colvin Recreation Center Annex recently went through a $5 million renovation and features 4 basketball courts with beautiful natural lighting and a unique architectural design. Workshops and classes are held in this versatile space as well. The Seretean has a full teaching kitchen to instruct students in healthy cooking and proper nutrition courses, and there is a massage therapy room. Teams, groups of students, and faculty undergoing leadership and training workshops, often travel the short distance to OSU’s Camp Redland, located 10.5 miles off campus, which features 12 cabins, a lodge, a pavilion, a lake with a swimming dock, picnic areas with fire pits, and a ropes course. It is the perfect retreat for team and leadership and icebreakers.
Michigan Technological University
The Outdoor Adventure Program at Michigan Technological University in Houghton has facilities that most resorts do not have. Day and week-long hiking, backpacking, kayaking, and climbing trips are regularly planned, as are clinics and seminars, such as the Survival Series, which educates students on the importance and practice of wilderness safety and rescue methods. There is a campus challenge course that has a series of high and low elements, as well as a 250-foot zip line to exit the course, that can accommodate up to 40 people in a group at one time! There are several outdoor traditions at MTU, such as the GNAR—Great Northern Adventure Race. On this day for seven years running, students, faculty, and community members have come together in groups of three or more, and competed in a 4-6 hour race that includes orienteering, running, biking, swimming, canoeing, and other “mystery challenges” along the way. Another famous event on MTU campus is the Winter Carnival, which has been a tradition every February since 1922, and “has grown to become one of the largest winter festivals in the nation.” This celebration includes huge and impressive snow sculptures, for example, one year the Audio Engineering Society built a snow sculpture holding an elaborate, not to mention incredibly loud, speaker system for the party. This night brings together students, faculty, and community members for fun in the snow, good food, music, comedy shows, sleigh rides, a snow queen coronation, the Bigfoot Snowshoe Event, where guests can traverse beautiful 2K, 4K, or 6K trails with the chance to win prizes, and many other events. The most impressive attribute of MTU campus is Mont Ripley, the university ski resort, that is only one mile away from campus. Whether students are beginners or experts, Mont Ripley welcomes all skiers. There are group, semi-private, and private skiing and snowboarding lessons taught by staff and MTU students that take place on the grounds 24 trails, the 440 foot vertical drop, 112 acres for cross country skiing, six glade runs, night skiing accessibility, jumps, slides, racing and casual terrain, everything that a skier would want.
At Princeton University in New Jersey, students have many campus traditions to look forward to every year. The Princeton Athletic Department and Clubs are responsible for the historical Cane Spree Day, which has been a tradition since 1865. It is a day when faculty and student athletes set up more than 20 stations for students to participate in a kind of college field day. There is a DJ, inflatables, free tee shirts, and the scores between the freshman and sophomore classes are tallied on the jumbotron in the stadium. This tradition is a representation of the school’s uniqueness, diversity of programs, and dedicated campus life department. The Athletics Department’s facilities are also an outstanding attribute of Princeton campus—several baseball diamonds and gymnasiums, the Hobey Baker Ice Rink, the DeNunzio Pool which is regarded as “one of the fastest in the nation,” and the Springdale Golf Club, an 18-hole golf course. Communiversity is a large event planned and organized by the PU and the Arts Council of Princeton. In 2014 it hosted over 40,000 people who came to see student plays, a cappella performances, concerts, participate in workshops, browse through local vendors’ and artists’ booths, fight in the annual tug-o-war competition, and team up in the pie toss. Princeton’s Month of Service is a unique college community service experience, allowing the opportunity to have an entry-point participation in long term campus service projects. In 2012 the Month of Service logged over 1,700 hours or work towards a stronger, healthier community. The Lawn Parties are a well known, semi-annual event, and when they take place, they are raucous, exciting, and host famous musicians and rap artists such as Schoolboy Q and Angel Haze.
University of California, Santa Barbara
It is very difficult to be bored at the University of California, Santa Barbara, when there are so many events and activities available for students. The Art, Design, & Architecture Museum is internationally recognized for its exhibits from the Morgenroth Collection of Renaissance Medals & Plaquettes to the Ken Trevey Collection of American Realist prints to the notable Architecture and Design Collection. The UCSB Arts & Lectures Program claims to be the “most influential art and lectures program between Los Angeles and San Francisco,” and organizes over 200 campus events each year, including theater, dance, concerts, and lectures concerning arts, science, politics, and industry. Hundreds of films, some of which are presented in a special series, are shown at the Isla Vista Theater. Discounted tickets are available for purchase online or at the ticket office at Campbell Hall, one of the many event spaces on campus. The Associated Students Program Board teaches students proper organization and booking methods and gives them the opportunity to bring large scale events to campus. The ASPB are responsible for organizing open mic nights, concerts, free film screenings of first run movies, cultural events, and festivals, all of which are either free or at a nominal fee to students. One of the ASPB’s finest annual events is the UCSB Extravaganza, a day-long concert and art festival with games, vendors, food, featured attractions, and dancing, held every spring quarter on campus. This humongous event has hosted headlining artists such as Kendrick Lamar, Snoop Dogg, Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeroes, and many others. There are also plenty of food festivals on campus, for example, the Jewish Festival, the French Festival, and the Chinese Festival, each celebrating the ethnic diversity of the student population. The UCSB Theater, Music, and Dance Departments are always organizing new, exciting, and interactive events as is the Athletic Department which hosts over 150 yearly events.
High Point University
This private liberal arts college in High Point, North Carolina, which is perhaps the most extravagant college campus in the U.S., High Point University, recently spent $700 million renovating its campus. There is now an ice cream truck serving free ice cream, a movie theater with complimentary snacks, and a fine dining restaurant where students can enjoy a three-course meal using their dining plan. There are nineteen dorms and townhouse complexes, and even the dormitories that are more traditional and basic—two students per room—include gyms, bistros, pool and air hockey tables, movie theaters, study halls, and swimming pools. For example, Centennial Square is a townhouse complex that houses 348 students; each house contains three floors, six bedrooms, and laundry facilities. Perhaps the grandest of all the residence halls on HPU campus is Aldridge Village which has it’s own “mini campus.” It includes a swimming pool, basketball and volleyball courts, study halls, a dining hall, and a rotating shuttle service. Wandering around campus, students will find fountains and pools, sculptures, and beautifully modern architecture. High Point Campus is a veritable wonderland.
University of Arkansas
Located in Fayetteville, the University of Arkansas has separate, designated, faculty and student-run committees responsible for hosting notable events on campus. The Headliner Concerts Committee, which is mostly student based, decides which musical artists to bring to campus and has hosted some impressive names, such as John Mayer, Foo Fighters, Kid Cudi, Snoop Dogg, and T.I, and many others. Tickets are free to students. The Distinguished Lectures Committee brings significant speakers to campus and has hosted President George H.W. Bush, NBA legend Magic Johnson, CNN news anchor Anderson Cooper, and His Holiness, the Dalai Lama. Friday Night Live is a late-night program facilitated by students to bring even more activities and events to campus. FNL is more focused on community building, and often partners up with other committees to achieve its goals. University Programs is a student-run organization within the Office of Student Affairs that is separated into its own committees, that is responsible for scheduling events for students, by students. The UP Concert Committee has free concerts and has brought artists such as Spoon and Guster U of A. Every year the UP Concert Committee teams up with Friday Night Live to put on FNL Hulapalooza, a concert festival including a Battle of the Bands. The Daytime Committee plans food and the art festivals such as Groovin’ in the Grass, which starts the school year with music and revelry, Brain Dead Day, which helps relieve the stress of the final exam period, and the Spring Carnival. Other groups include the Cultures and Concepts Committee which hosts events like the LGBTQ movie series and the International Day of Peace, the Comedy Committee plans free comedy events, and the Coffeehouse Committee plans poetry slams and acoustic musical events.
University of California, Berkeley
The University of California, Berkeley has a wide variety of amenities, facilities, and daily student activities available to keep students occupied, particularly the artists, poets, and philosophers. The university funds over 1,200 clubs and organizations that will satisfy the spirit of any student. These clubs, such as AFX Dance, a hip-hop dance group, often host events and activities at venues like The Greek Theater, which is one of the most impressive and beautiful stages on a college campus. Built in the style of ancient Greek outdoor theaters, it seats 8,500 and has been the stage for artists such as Elvis Costello, Lorde, Dave Matthews Band, The Avett Brothers, and Erykah Badu, as well as large university events such as Baccalaureate, plays, and symphonies. The Department of Music has opportunities available for every musician and has concerts from student bands, such as those in the New Music and Audio Technologies department, who work to harness the capabilities of electronic music, the University Symphony Orchestra and Choruses, and the African Drumming & Gospel Society. The Students Union Program, Entertainment, and Recreation Board is a student-run, non-profit branch of the university, responsible for providing games, activities, concerts, and comedy shows throughout the weeks, such as the Annual San Fransisco Comedy Competition, which is in its 38th year running! They also have trivia nights, Super Smash Bros. competitions, and poker games. Lunch Poems is a monthly poetry reading and socializing at the Free Speech Movement Café where students can drink and eat and discuss current social and political issues. The Recreational Sports Facility has classes and facilities perfect for finding some much needed relaxation time, in a tai chi class or a massage. For the dedicated researchers and bookworms, the Bancroft Library and the Doe Library have millions upon millions of texts, volumes, photographs, lithographs, paintings, drawings, and manuscripts. Bancroft and Doe are beautifully decorated with paintings and murals and provide peaceful study spaces. All those with tech-savvy will find a home in Cory Hall, which “houses ongoing displays of state-of-the-art electronic micro-fabrication, integrated circuitry, lasers, and robotics,” open to the public on weekends. A student could walk through UC Berkeley campus and have something new to do every day from orientation to graduation.