There’s something about the Fall that makes me long to be back in college. I still have fond memories of the late-night pizza-fests, the all-nighters studying for exams with friends, and hanging out in the middle of campus on lazy Sundays. Let me qualify my statements by noting I do not miss the exams or 20-page papers, but rather I miss the collegiate atmosphere, where making new friends, having fun, and learning new things are one’s primary responsibilities. And, let’s not forget ….college also meant a newfound freedom to do whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted.
All colleges and universities have their own unique qualities. Some are known for a specific academic area like Engineering or Business, while others are known for their great alumni networks, their location, or for simply being a very social school (aka party school). We see these unique qualities celebrated and ranked year after year in published reports including the Best Colleges in the U.S. and the Most Beautiful College Campuses, etc. I’ve visited several of these colleges – including Harvard, UC Berkeley, UC Boulder, and more – and can honestly say that they are incredible places to visit.
However, when you look past the rankings and the pomp and circumstance, it’s comforting to know that you can still find many of the classic college features at any school you visit.
7 Classic College Campus Features That Will Make You Want to Visit
- Feeling of Academia – From a chemistry lab, to a residence hall, to a sports stadium, no matter where you go on campus, there is a clear sense that you are in the middle of academia and something much larger than yourself. As you roam around the campus, it’s hard not to feel impressed by the buildings, activities and school offerings, and loads of smart looking students with Fjallraven or Herschel backpacks holding laptops, iPads and the occasional notebook. This is one of the very few places you can go where you just feel smarter by being in the middle of it.
- The Quads – A quad is a central courtyard on campus anchored by one or more major university buildings. These typically grassy areas are where highly caffeinated students gather or pass through to get from one class to the next and they usually have benches, picnic tables or other seats to relax. Given that these are high traffic areas with an unmistakable energy, they are excellent places for people watching or just a nice place to sit and read a book.
- Academic Buildings and Architecture – Every campus has at least one key academic or administrative building that is essentially eye candy for visitors. More often than not, these buildings have such notable architecture that they are the focal point on university landing pages, digital imagery, graduation photos, etc. Very old universities (ie. Ivy League schools), will have no shortage of these eye-catching buildings on campus, but even newer schools will have their own interesting styles of architecture to keep you engaged on your campus visit.
- Fraternity and Sorority Houses – Greek organizations are a staple of most colleges and universities. And in most cases, wherever you find a strong Greek System, you’ll also find an array of Fraternity and Sorority houses. Depending on the college campus, these houses can range from modest bungalows, to apartment-like structures, to large, ornate, multi-story mansions. No matter the campus, just walking by these beautiful houses (at least they are beauties on the outside!) decorated with their respective Greek letters and colors, will make you appreciate – and miss – college life even more.
- Cozy Cafes and Coffee Shops – Whether they are on campus or off, coffee shops and cafes are student favorites. Even if the food is “mid” and the coffee overpriced, these are the places where co-eds gather for lunch or a quick cappuccino to chat with friends, perhaps to discuss advanced theories or just the upcoming party. Grab a table, your iPad and a steamy beverage and you’ll fit right in.
- Quaint Towns – Many colleges and universities are adjacent to small, charming cities that offer interesting restaurants, shops and activities of their own. Because most of these neighboring cities are somewhat dependent on business brought in from the college, they often cater to the local students and are very welcoming to visitors. Even schools in major cities like Chicago and Boston create this same type of smaller town feeling by cultivating student-friendly neighborhoods just off campus.
- Game Day – There’s nothing like visiting a college or university on the day of a football game – nothing! Even if you don’t attend the game or even a tailgating event, the energy, excitement and general craziness you see and feel is incredible. It’s also highly contagious, and I don’t mean in a COVID type of way. I challenge anyone visiting on game day to not get caught up in the frenzy by singing a fight song, wearing school colors, or checking the score on your phone.
No matter where you attended college, pride and love for your alma mater will always make your school and your college experience the best, giving you many memories to ponder and share for years to come.
And…if you’re looking for a little fun or simply a nostalgic trip for this Fall, why not visit a college campus? Whether small or large, or near or far, these institutions – and the history and memories they hold – never disappoint.
Oh, and one more thing….Go Chips and Cyclones!