Location Location Location
Top 10 Schools Whose Locales are the Envy of Family and Friends
Many factors can sway your college decision, but location might just be the most important. We’re not just talking about the weather, either. A school’s location is the inherent culture surrounding the campus, and what that environment can offer its students. Don’t worry though, if you are looking for great weather, we have that too! The perfect vista, town, or climate where you’ll be truly happy is out there waiting for you. Here are ten of our favorites.
Ye Olde Boston has plenty to offer, as the city is your playground. Like many of the schools on our list, the city is the campus. “The best thing about BU is that it is Boston.” You can go to Boston’s excellent Italian neighborhood in the North End, says one student, “often, friends and I would go around the city to eat in ‘little Italy' up in the North End, catch a Red Sox game further south, or stay close and go to a local bar and shoot pool.” Another student packed a vacation’s worth of activity into one weekend, “last weekend I was in a dinner theater performance of Anything Goes. We are lucky to live in Boston; there are a thousand things to do off campus. If you have a two hour break between classes you can have a great time walking around on Newbury Street.” There are plenty of adventures, and you’re not limited because there are “good theaters, dancing, and infatuating music,” plus, there are “lots of available musical organizations to choose from.” BU’s most famous club would have to be the “Programming Council because it’s the biggest club on campus; definitely join if you get the chance! That's where students meet some cool kids that are progressive and open minded!” We agree with one student in particular who simply said “Boston is not a college town, it’s a city.” A city you would be proud to call your home away from home.
University of California-Berkeley
The Berkeley campus is a 25 minute train ride from San Francisco and a 10 minute drive to Oakland. Its central location provides countless opportunities to explore, according to one student, “there are plenty of student organizations and activities both on campus and nearby in the Bay Area. Being in a university with tens of thousands of students as well as next to a liberal metropolitan area gives you more options than you can probably explore in 4 years, let alone one quarter!” You want more? Students can “hit up downtown Berkeley, where there are numerous theaters, even ones that show indie movies, with excellent restaurants, and so much more.” A typical Saturday night “could be spent doing something in San Francisco, seeing a movie, going to a concert, going out to dinner, hanging out at home in your pajamas (and watching a $1 movie rental from Elephant Pharmacy), or going to the one and only Yogurt Park.” That’s still not all. The campus itself is large and nestled amongst beautiful hills and verdurous common areas. “Berkeley is big. Pretty much anything you want is here. This also means anything you don't want is also here, but the beauty of the campus (which happens to include the beautiful scenery) is that it's so big and diverse, avoiding tools and angling your way towards the people that are actually cool is not too difficult an affair.” Berkeley is tough to beat with northern California's most populated areas as your playground, letting you enjoy the sites and culture of the northwest coast.
University of California-San Diego
OK, here it is; the school to attend if you want to spend 25 hours a day on the beach. It might have San Diego in the name, but the school itself is actually located in the wealthy seaside town of La Jolla, where the residential sprawl houses around 40,000 sand-dwelling residents. Undoubtedly, it’s the beach that makes UCSD a must. “The best thing about UCSD is that it’s right next to the beach!” Other students agree, “The beach is huge. Warm spring afternoons mean everyone's carrying their surfboard down to Black's beach, whether it's a weekday or not.” It’s not just the waves that beckon, though, the SUN GOD Festival is the social event of the year, “SUN GOD is probably the best annual event at UCSD, an entire day devoted to partying and ending in a huge concert with big name artists (Ludacris, T.I., My Chemical Romance, Damian Marley, etc.).” One student laughs at the memories of the party “UCSD also has SUN GOD, so much fun stuff, activities are endless!” The SUN GOD festival is as big as you’ll find, with almost every student attending it, but you’re also close to the debauchery that is, Mexico, “Everyone in California comes to UCSD for our SUN GOD festival in May, but Mexico is only 40 minutes from campus and is another popular destination for people who want a wild night…if you know what I mean.” There is also even more promise of other pursuits in this beach haven, “there are some fun clubs downtown and great restaurants in Hilcrest, shopping in Mission Valley, or hitting the scene in Pacific Beach.” When it comes down to it though, the beach is the deciding factor, so, if you’re someone that enjoys the sand and the view of the Pacific, this is your school.
University of Colorado-Boulder
The town of Boulder, Colorado is home to around 100,000 residents and the school houses more than a quarter of them. You’d be hard pressed to find another city with more than 100,000 residents where college students make up almost one out of every four people. Just off the base of the Rocky Mountains, the campus offers some majestic views of the sprawling ranges, and students have no shortage of outdoor activities in all seasons. “You can climb the flat irons, go skiing or snowboarding, mountain biking, hiking, backpacking, camping; even long boarders have many challenging hills to bomb here.” In fact, if you like sitting inside all day, Boulder might not be a good fit for you. “Boulder has outdoor stuff out the wazoo! Flagstaff is 5 minutes outside of town, and that's where I do my rock climbing. There's some real world class bouldering at Flagstaff, and endless amounts of rock to climb within an hour of Boulder. If you are an outdoorsy person, Boulder is the perfect place for you.” That’s not all there is to do either, as those in the know stay current by reading “the buff bulletin and mass circulated flyers that keep students up to date on campus and city wide events.” The allure of the campus is a large reason many visiting students choose to go here, “the best thing about Boulder is the beautiful campus. It is truly one of the most beautiful campuses in the country.” The reactions of UC-Boulder student peers adds a special emphasis on its prime location and the joy of the students’ experience, “I love that people always seem impressed and intrigued when I tell them where I go to school: their faces light up, their eyes get wide and they start to smile. It might be partly because I can't help smiling when I tell someone where I go to school.”
University of Georgia
About an hour and a half northeast of Atlanta, the Athens community is driven around the University of Georgia, and it doesn’t fail to impress. “The best thing about UGA is the college town feel. It's an amazing place where the locals are so welcoming to the students (usually), and it's no surprise that people never want to leave.” It’s not just the town, though, “there are many opportunities to get involved with philanthropies and other things to help out the community. There are concerts and artsy things going on around campus every day.” While there are tons of activities, music seems to be a consistent highlight. “Athens has one of the top college towns in the country (as rated by the Rolling Stone magazine practically every year) and the music scene is incredible. There is always something going on from fairs to bicycle races and shows.” It’s no joke, music is definitely huge, just take a look at one of their more famous alumni: “awesome music scene (hello R.E.M. anyone?).” If you want to try something different you can “see a film at Cine or sing karaoke at one of the sushi joints. When you get here, you’ll sit next to a new person every time you show up for a meal at Bolton and your social circle will expand so fast you'll forget you ever left home.” Their theater scene is strong too, “being a liberal arts school there was a good variety of musical and theater choices students could attend.” One student sums it all up, “the beautiful campus, the friendly people, the near proximity to the mountains, there are so many things. It's a big campus and I wouldn't change any of it.”
New York University
New York University’s campus is New York City; to many, it’s the cultural hub of the world. The students tend to agree. One student packed more into their weekend than most students do in a semester: “last weekend I went rock climbing in Central Park, went dancing with some friends in the East Village, did homework at the beautiful public library, wrote emails from Gregory’s coffee shop, went to see my boyfriend in the Bronx, worked at the dance studio… and went out for drinks on Sunday night near Times Square.” For many students, school functions take a back seat to the city itself, “a good portion of NYU-ers pretty much ignore any school activities in order to take advantage of NYC itself. It's hard to compare a school play with a Broadway show (although with the quality of students that our programs attract, it's not unusual to see an NYU student in a Broadway show, or a major movie, for that matter).” It’s a place where anything and everything can happen: “We're in New York City, a place with endless opportunities to keep ourselves busy. Depending on the weather, the park scene is rockin’ from the east to the west side. Museums, from the MoMa to the Whitney to Madame Tussauds, are always a good call. As an added bonus, NYU's student discount helps quite a bit. There are poetry clubs and comedy shows, sports games and street performances...like I said endless possibilities.” It doesn’t stop as there are plenty of other activities to sign up for, evidenced by the eclectic nature of this student's classes: “I've taken ballet classes, photography classes, sat on student council, played intramural sports, worked three different work-study positions and volunteered for the NYC branch of the ASPCA.” If you’re looking for excitement and non-stop movement through the most crowded city in America, NYU is definitely for you.
Pepperdine University in sunny California is almost too good to be true with access to the beach and urban scenery. The campus is “located in the beautiful town of Malibu and there’s a great beach right across the street. Also it's only 15 minutes from LA, so on weekends you can have a wild fun time and on weekdays you’re back in a relaxed, calm environment where you can concentrate on your studies.” Another hot spot close to campus is “Malibu Yogurt, which is a two minute drive from campus, and is a really popular place to hang out with friends or go on a date.” It’s not just the beautiful Pacific Ocean that gets this school on the list either; they have “shopping centers in both Santa Monica and through the canyon. On campus, there are different activities throughout the year and they hold events like the ‘Spring Fling’ where you can stay up all night for free Disneyland tickets.” What it really boils down to is location near the beach and city. Many students agree, “Pepperdine is the most beautiful campus I have ever seen…LA isn’t far if that’s what you’re looking for and the beach is just a minute away.” Sounds like the perfect SoCal location.
University of Texas at Austin
The city of Austin is a variegated and exciting place that you’ll likely never be able to see all of, even with four years at your disposal! “Austin is chock full of entertainment options for students to explore, and it might very well take 4+ years to get to know the city. 6th Street, SoCo, SoLa, and Barton Springs are just some of the fantastic locales and neighbors to the eclectic city of Austin.” Downtown is where it all goes down, “I love going downtown, eating at all of the restaurants in Austin, and taking advantage of the outdoors. I love going to see the Texas Revue every year, as well as 40 Acres Fest and Party on the Plaza.” It gets even better once you can legally drink, “the school is huge but everyone seems to like it. Austin is definitely a college town and 6th street is very popular once you turn 21.” It’s not only about the downtown scene, though, “there are hundreds of organizations to join at UT! Texas has one of the largest Greek communities in the nation, with over 50 sororities and fraternities, tons of cultural clubs, academic clubs and social organizations. Getting involved in something is a great way to meet new people and a good way to find your niche in such a large community.” A lot of the groups still place an emphasis on cutting loose and partying, “there's a wide selection of clubs to join. Drinking is a mainstay of social life; even seemingly innocent clubs will host at least two keg/club parties a semester. Apparently, the administration gives them funds to buy alcohol, which is AWESOME, or ridiculous, depending on how you look at it.” As UT remains ever popular, it’s clear that many students arrive and graduate every year with one goal: get a job in Austin and never leave.
The Big Easy is the primary reason Tulane made our list. Obviously, there’s a lot going on that students can participate in, even with the shroud of Katrina still sometimes masking the jovial campus. “There is so much good music, food, and festivals you won’t find anywhere else (Jazzfest is probably one of the greatest jazz festivals in the world). Mardi Gras is precisely as you envision it, but the entire school (professors especially) embraces it.” Many other students agree, “the best thing about Tulane is definitely being in New Orleans and the nightlife you find. There is always something going on!” Foodies and music heads will love it here with the Cajun cooking and jazz. "There is a lot of great music in New Orleans and a lot of really yummy places to eat. Off campus I go to any of the delicious bars and restaurants within walking distance. Go to Audobon Park which is across the street from campus, Magazine Street which has a bunch of cute shops, and down to the quarter for beignets and hand grenades.” If you’re too full for food or drinks, the theater program is a perfect break for your tummy. “The theater program puts on some excellent productions and it is always worth a Friday or Saturday night to go watch one of their performances. The plays are different and sometimes student written, but there’s tons of talent among the theater students.” Basically, you’ll be the envy of your high school peers, “between all of my friends from high school who go to similarly ranked colleges like Vanderbilt, Emory, William and Mary, Washington University, and others, Tulane's social life is by far the best. We have the opportunity to partake in the events offered by the city of New Orleans, which really is absolutely unique and cannot be copied.” We agree completely.
University of Vermont
The town of Burlington, Vermont has a population of around 40,000 and is still the largest city in the state. Many consider it the ideal college town because it affords all the stimuli of a cultured city without the bustle of the larger metropolitan areas in the Northeast. Burlington also offers some of the most beautiful vistas east of the Mississippi. “The town of Burlington is probably the best part of the college. The scenery is awesome. There's nothing better than getting to see the mountains in the distance while you're on the way to class.” Students have plenty more to do than enjoying the views. “Each week UVM sends out a calendar filled with guest speakers, films, concerts, and events.” Music is a large part of the culture as well, “there is a concert hall down the road called Higher Ground, which attracts some really good bands like State Radio and the Disco Biscuits.” The main thing to remember is how many different options you have as a student, “there are a ton of clubs, Greek life, activities both within dorms and the student center that students can get involved in.” You don’t have to drink to enjoy the Burlington location either, “you can go out drinking or you can have just as a good of a time watching a movie posted up on a big screen outside. There is a lot of partying, but that is not what UVM is all about. If you want to party you can, but if you don't want to, you won't be pressured.” In a nutshell, “Burlington is really laid back, and the people who live there all year around really embrace the fact that a bunch of college kids live there for part of the year.”