October 5, 2023
College campuses offer an abundance of history, stunning architecture, and unique traditions to explore. While Forbes and U.S. News Reports rankings of the "best universities" make great checklists, countless other campuses are worth visiting. The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) reports that there are approximately 2,750 four-year higher education institutions in the US. How many campuses have you had the opportunity to explore? Have you been to a university in every state?
All Fifty Club members with a College Campus Challenge completed or in progress.
Braxton Amundson visited a college in every state by age 25!
James Marchino visited over 500 college campuses and collected 499 coffee mugs along the way! James also took pictures by school signs as part of his 9,000+ travel photo collection.
Charles Dean has visited 248 Division I schools in every state except Vermont, South Dakota, and Alaska (which doesn't have a DI school). He has found it helpful to have a master list and update it each year as schools change divisions. This strategy helps to avoid backtracking or redundancy. One of his favorites is his unofficial namesake Dean College in Franklin, MA.
Daniel Tomasulo has visited 104 college campuses in 35 states so far. His favorite campus is Princeton with its gorgeous campus with exquisite examples of Collegiate Gothic architecture. The University Chapel holds special significance to him as that is the chapel that he and his wife were married in 43 years ago.
College campus visit tips:
Research in advance what and where the historic or culturally iconic spots are on campus. Some you know, others are 'who knew'?
Check to see if the college offers tours to the public. Many colleges offer tours for visitors beyond admissions tours. For example, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill offers a Sense of Place tour that covers campus history and traditions and talks about the University’s current endeavors in research and innovation. The University of Notre Dame holds tours twice a day throughout the summer for tourists to see major landmarks of the Basilica of the Sacred Heart and "Touchdown Jesus" at the stadium.
Attend a campus event. Many colleges encourage the public to attend musical, dance, and arts performances done by students. Universities are great places to watch a national act. For example, All Fifty Club member Charles Dean saw Metallica at Penn State.
Eat on or near campus to get a feel of the university. Visitors can eat in many student dining halls by paying credit card or cash, while students scan their dining cards. Many restaurants are decked out with campus spirit and memorabilia, for example, Rama Jama's next to the University of Alabama football stadium in Tuscaloosa. Buffalo Wild Wings has locations next to many college campuses as its first location was at Ohio State University. D.P. Dough's mission is to "deliver ooey, gooey, cheesy happiness on and around college campuses throughout the United States" such as Virginia Tech, Clemson, and 25 others.
Try University ice cream, cheese, beer, and more! Many land grant universities have their own dairy on campus so they make and sell their university-brand ice cream or cheese. Favorite – Mississippi State University, Bully’s Premium Ice Cream. Virginia Tech faculty and students are involved with the production of Fightin’ Hokies labeled beer as part of a partnership with Hardywood Brewery.
Sit in a class - with permission first! With today's security protocols be sure to get permission from the university administration first or inquire with a professor ahead of time to see if you can audit or attend a class.
Stop by the sports fields or attend an athletic event. There seems to be a sporting event on any given day at a university. Check the university athletics page and find out what's going on! Even if you don't go to a football game, it is fun to visit the stadiums and reminisce later that "you were there" when you watch a televised game.
Purchase athletic gear and souvenirs off campus for better pricing. The official campus bookstores have a great selection but are typically more than what you can find at an off-campus bookstore.
Pick your parking spot. Parking can be tricky on big campuses. Look up visitor parking ahead of time as many parking lots are restricted to parking passes. In the evenings, often the restrictions do not apply so there are free parking opportunities.
ALABAMA - Tuskegee Institute/University in Alabama is a national historic site within the National Park System. Key historical figures have strong ties to the university such as Booker T. Washington, George Washington Carver, and the World War II Tuskegee Airmen.
FLORIDA - Florida Southern College in central Florida is the largest single-site collection of Frank Lloyd Wright architecture. The Sharp Family Tourism and Education Center gives guided walking tours.
MASSACHUSETTS - Harvard University is the oldest university in the United States founded in 1636 in the Massachusetts Bay Colony. The Harvard Visitors Center offers Historical Tours and an Art and Culture Tour.