All colleges are not created equal. In fact, some colleges try to stand out, sometimes in very strange ways. Here are just 10 of those colleges.
1. Reed College
Reed College pretty much sets the standard for quirky colleges. Past traditions of Renn Fayre, a three-day celebration on campus after the last class of spring semester, sum up the loose atmosphere: bug-eating contests, fireworks, a naked Slip ‘n Slide and much more.
But don’t think this Portland, Ore., liberal arts school doesn’t take academics seriously. The school is consistently ranked highly. Reed College just does it differently with lengthy evaluations, a de-emphasized grading system and small, discussion-filled classes.
2. University of California – Santa Cruz
Any school with a banana slug as the mascot deserves quirky props. But that’s not all that sets UC-Santa Cruz apart.
Besides a majority of classes with under 30 students and the death of a beloved goat as the reason dogs aren’t allowed on campus, UC-Santa Cruz houses the Grateful Dead archives. Keep Santa Cruz weird!
3. Oberlin College
Oberlin College, in Ohio, has always been progressive. But odd, too? That’s right.
Here are just a few unique things about Oberlin College: the student-run Experimental College, where students can teach classes, the ability to rent art space at the school’s museum, the on-campus co-op and the co-ed dorms.
4. University of Nevada – Reno
It’s not so much the academics at the University of Nevada – Reno that set it apart — although a Ph.D. in Basque studies is interesting — it’s the atmosphere.
You’re going to school with many students who grew up in places where gambling machines at gas stations and legal brothels on the outskirts of town were the norm. Aggressive, food-stealing geese run around campus shamelessly. And you’re a short drive from the world-renowned Lake Tahoe.
5. Brigham Young University
Brigham Young University (BYU), in Provo, Utah, is quirky in a much different way than, say, Reed College. Yes, it’s true that almost 100% of students are Mormon and the campus has a strict no-alcohol policy. But that’s not it.
The religious culture on campus ends up motivating other behaviors, too. Most students know a second language (often learned for their big mission trips). Also, the “ring-by-spring-or-your-money-back” mentality is huge at BYU. Many students are married by the time they graduate.
6. Hampshire College
Hampshire College, in Amherst, Mass., is unique in its academic approach: no grades, just detailed evaluations.
Academics are set up in three different divisions. Students have a lot of freedom in what they study. The third division requires field work, which could be independent study but are often off-campus internships. Subjects vary, from architecture to Buddhist studies, but it’s a school known for the arts.
7. Texas A&M University
No quirky list is complete without the Aggies (what Texas A&M students are called).
Texas A&M University, in College Station, takes school spirit to a whole new level. From ceremonies remembering Aggies who passed away to bonfires representing the school’s “burning desire” to beat the University of Texas, the traditions at Texas A&M are strong. Plus, freshman initiation into the traditions is a nice gesture.
8. College of William & Mary
Another school with quirky traditions is the College of William & Mary, in Williamsburg, Va. Any school that dresses its president in a Santa Claus suit reading How the Grinch Stole Christmas deserves recognition.
Of course, College of William & Mary is also known for being one of the best public schools in America. Why not watch faculty members debate each other on a stranded island while earning a world-class education?
9. California Institute of Technology
When you’re a kid, pranks are common and shrugged off as, “Kids will be kids.” Then you become an adult, and suddenly it’s not acceptable anymore … except at Caltech.
At Caltech in Pasadena, pranks are not just an underground operation completed by students. They’re recognized on the school website, and even professors participate from time to time. Some of the best pranks include changing the Hollywood sign to read Caltech and handing out shirts on the MIT campus that read MIT on the front and Caltech on the back.
10. Wesleyan University
This high-ranked liberal arts school in Middletown, Conn., is flexible in the same way a wife is flexible for letting her husband have coffee with his ex-girlfriend.
This means Wesleyan University sponsors over 150 study abroad programs all over the country and lets students study for a semester or a year at 12 different colleges including Dartmouth and Wheaton College. Plus, Ted, Marshall and Lily from How I Met Your Mother went to this school.
Yes, college is serious business, and all of these schools offer a great educational experience. But these aren’t the only schools with a quirky vibe. If you look hard enough, you can find something unique at your chosen school as well.
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