Are most of the world’s beautiful college campuses in America? – An Update

Are the world’s most beautiful campuses in America? After reading James’ post from a few years back and visiting more than a few campuses recently, I thought I’d offer another school for consideration to his list, the University of Deleware.

You see, I have two children of college age and each went through the arduous process of selecting the right place to continue their studies for the next four years. Neither sought the advice of the other, high school being an awkward time when it can be considered uncool to hang out or even speak with one’s sibling.

The college search process took us very different places for each of our students. My daughter’s list consisted of schools with a good reputation in her area of study. Her high priorities had always been the three R’s, so this was of no great surprise. My son, on the other hand, had been more of a 3 S’s kind of guy (sun, surf, and sand). This was reflected in his list.

My daughter’s search would take us to places along the eastern seaboard, many with traditional campuses and majestic, ivy covered buildings throughout. Like something out of a Norman Rockwell painting, these schools were cast from a familiar mold, none really all that different from the other. After a while they all blurred together for me.

By contrast, my son’s list of prospects was comprised mostly of schools with palm trees. And pictures of coeds on the cover of the school brochure. This should surprise no one. Still, I was a bit disappointed.

After a brief discussion (and reminder that I was the one paying his tuition), we agreed that an amended list was in order. We would visit a few schools of his choosing as well as a couple we could mutually agree on. Our first visit was to be to a school that was not initially on my son’s radar. The University of Delaware.

It was Friday evening when we arrived on campus, tired and hungry from a long trip. There were numerous restaurants along Main Street, all catering to students about to blow off some steam after a long week of studying. Nothing struck us as particularly interesting. Then we stumbled into The Deerpark.

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, The Deerpark Tavern was built in 1851 from the remains of the St. Patrick’s Inn after in had burned down. It’s low ceilings and thick wooden beams take one back to years gone by and given it’s unique history, it has a charm that few buildings on any campus can rival.

It’s predecessor, the St. Patrick’s Inn, had been a stopping place for George Washington and Edgar Allan Poe among others, and it is easy to imagine Poe pounding down a few drinks in the small bar at the front of the structure. Shortly after dinner we called it a night, knowing that tomorrow we’d be on our feet for most of the day.

Early the next morning we showed up for our scheduled campus tour. Our guide, a business student at the Alfred Lerner School, seemed well informed as my son peppered him with question after question about graduation rate, employment statistics for graduates, etc. While they discussed things we walked the area referred to as The Green, an expansive lawn where students talk, toss frisbees, or just hang out and relax. I couldn’t help thinking how unexpectedly beautiful the grounds were.

Later that day we strolled through other areas of the university and around the town of Newark (pronounced New – ark as in Noah’s ark. The locals will correct you if you don’t get it right). We found other areas to be just as attractive. Should you tour the campus yourself, don’t miss some of these places:

* The water fountain near Hugh Morris Library

* Laird campus (the Independent Complex)

* The grounds of the Winterthur Art Museum

While we visited a number of other attractive campuses shortly after, I believe my son made his decision that day.

My daughter will be graduating from college as part of the class of 2013 and she’s been giving some thought to attending medical school. What’s on her radar? The American University of Antigua. No kidding. She says studying amongst the palm trees might be nice. I wonder who could have given her that idea?

Richard Barnes

Filed Under: Travel ideas

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