Oct 17, 2014

Top 20 list of most beautiful universities in America—public or private

University of Virginia
Beauty may be in the eyes of the beholder, but for independent educational consultants (IEC’s) asked this week to name the most beautiful universities in America there were a few clear favorites.

In an opinion poll circulated to members of the Independent Educational Consultants Association (IECA) and the Higher Education Consultants Association (HECA), the University of Virginia came out on top of almost 100 university campuses nominated for the honor.

Barbara Rapaport, an IEC based In New Jersey, cast her vote for UVa “…mostly for Jefferson’s rotunda and ‘academical village,’ both for architectural beauty and historic significance.”  While Pam Pik, an educational consultant from Connecticut pointed out, “They are pouring lots of money into restoration.”

Princeton University
Tied for second place were Princeton and Stanford, two very different campuses appealing to very different tastes in architectural style.

From there, the list of beautiful universities included campuses in every corner of the country—a fair representation of the many miles traveled by educational consultants each year in service of their client families.

“I’ve visited 30 colleges in the past year and I feel like each campus has something truly unique to offer,” explained Kristina Dooley, a Cleveland-based educational consultant.  “I find that you need to look beyond the beautiful trees and buildings to get to the true beauty of a campus:  the community.”

And that’s what drives IEC’s to put in the miles and visit even the remotest campuses in America—the desire to learn firsthand what makes individual colleges and universities unique.  This information is then used to inform the kinds of specialized counseling provided by IEC’s to college-bound students.

Stanford University
“You can tell a lot about a campus community by the number of random ‘hellos’ you get while strolling the walkways and by the variety of activities promoted on fliers scattered on billboards,” adds Ms. Dooley.

But there’s something even more valuable about looking beyond what’s provided on a webpage or in a
view book and actually “experiencing” a college community.

“At MIT, I had the good fortune to be walking down the Infinite Corridor when students were changing classes,” said Jeana Kawamura, whose consulting practice is in Newport Beach, California.  “As students emerged from their classrooms to go to their next, the energy was electric.  Students engaged with each other in animated discussion about the topics of the day—this was probably the most profound moment I have had on a college campus.  The eclectic mix of architecture paled in comparison to the beauty of higher education engagement.”

And this is what it’s all about.

Thanks to hundreds of IEC’s who also cast votes earlier in the week for the most beautiful liberal arts colleges, the following represents counselor picks for the top 20 list of most beautiful universities in America:

1.  University of Virginia
2.  Princeton University and Stanford University
4.  Duke University
5.  Yale University
6.  University of Colorado Boulder
7.  University of Chicago
8.  College of William and Mary an Pepperdine University
10.  Indiana University, Vanderbilt University, University of Washington, UCLA
14.  Elon University, University of San Diego and Dartmouth College
17.  Lehigh University and Northwestern University
19.  Rice University
20.  Miami University and Wake Forest University

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