Top 5 Most Beautiful College Campuses in the U.S.

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It’s said that beauty is in the eye of the beholder—so who better to determine the most beautiful college campuses than the students themselves who live and study there? Of course, a campus is more than just buildings. The students are the lifeblood of a university, so they figure into the beauty of the campus as well. “College Prowler” surveys students regarding a number of university issues, including the scenic beauty of their campuses and the relative attractiveness of their schools’ students. Combining these survey results provides an overall picture of which U.S. campuses are truly the most beautiful.

5 University of Virginia

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Thomas Jefferson conceived and designed the University of Virginia from the ground up as a publicly supported school with national character, and so it remains. The design of the lawn, crowned by the recognizable rotunda and surrounded by academic buildings, has become the blueprint for the design of other universities to follow. Founded in 1819, the hallowed halls house over 20,000 students. Students ranked their classmates a 9.61 out of 10; the scenic beauty of their campus, a 9.63 out of 10.

4 University of Colorado, Boulder

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Nestled in the Rocky Mountains, the University of Colorado, Boulder was formally established in 1876, the same year as the state itself. The campus is best known for its Old Main building, which originally housed all of its classrooms. A bell hung in the belfry in 1878 signaled class changes until 1928, when it cracked. The approximately 30,000 students at Boulder rated each other’s attractiveness at a respectable 9.24 out of 10. The campus’s scenic mountain vistas, however, were rated a near perfect 9.89 out of 10.

3 Colgate University

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Being on lists of the most beautiful college campuses isn’t a new thing for Colgate University in Hamilton, New York. Over 88 buildings, some dating back to 1827, rise from a 515-acre campus with an estimated 2,300 trees. Students rated the picturesque campus 9.71 out of 10, and the other students who roam those hills aren’t too shabby either—students rated their classmates 9.63 out of 10. Colgate is a small, private liberal arts university with an enrollment of less than 3,000, renowned for its selectivity and outstanding academic reputation.

2 Miami University (Ohio)

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Robert Frost once said Miami University in Oxford, Ohio was “the most beautiful campus that ever there was.” Given the school’s students are alone in the country in rating their fellow students a perfect 10 out of 10, you’d be forgiven if you questioned the meaning of Frost’s statement. Founded in 1809, Miami University is a public university with approximately 16,000 students. The school prides itself on its high commitment to undergraduate education and individualized attention normally found only at smaller schools.

1 University of California, Santa Barbara

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It’s no wonder Newsweek named U.C. Santa Barbara one of the nation’s “hottest colleges” not once, but twice—according to students, the attractiveness of the student body is 9.98 out of 10. Situated on over a thousand acres of California coastline, U.C. Santa Barbara hosts over 20,000 students, most of whom are in-state students. Students rated the oceanfront campus a respectable 9.81 out of 10.

Jennifer Mueller has been writing professionally since 1995, when she began writing a bi-monthly column for "This Week in WNC." Mueller holds a Bachelor of Arts in political science from the University of North Carolina at Asheville and a Juris Doctor from the Indiana University School of Law.

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