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Most beautiful colleges in the U.S.

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The prettiest places to study

When you are buying a home or planning a vacation, location is one of the most important deciding factors. Surprisingly enough, the same is true for incoming college freshmen when they are considering where to attend. Unique architecture, natural and artistic landscape and picture-perfect views all play a larger role than you think when it comes to attracting potential students, faculty and even tourists! If the thought of cramming for finals with a view of the ocean, mountains or historical buildings sounds good, one of these colleges is for you!

The prettiest places to study

These five campuses are not just some of the best academic institutions in the entire world, but also some of the prettiest places to get an education as well. From gothic-style buildings to stained-glass windows to views of mountains and beaches, these unique architectural campuses may make it hard to focus on your studies!

University of Washington, Seattle, Washington

It's no surprise this school made our list, especially because Seattle is one of the most beautiful cities in the U.S. Not only does the university have stunning views of snowcapped Mount Rainier, but it also has some pretty incredible architecture. Most of the buildings are built in a gothic theme, especially the Suzzallo Library, which is complete with 35-foot-high stained-glass windows and ornate vaulted ceilings that are more than 65 feet tall. The quad's 30 unique Yoshino cherry trees will take your breath away in the spring with vibrant pink blossoms that provide a stark contrast to the rest of the buildings. One of the students' favorite places to relax is the Drumheller Fountain, which is made up of three jets with the center one shooting water almost 100 feet in the air.

The prettiest places to study
Photo credit: Doug McMillen

Kenyon College, Gambier, Ohio

Kenyon College, a small school that sits atop the hilly town of Gambier, Ohio, has received a ton of press lately, and not for just academics! Forbes and Travel & Leisure both named this one of the most beautiful college campuses in the country. What appeals to most prospective and current students are the sweeping trees and lawns, the expanses of lush green gardens and the way the Gothic architecture of the historic college contrasts with the simple Midwestern homes speckling the campus. Besides the 10-foot-wide middle path, which is decorated with mature trees (a stunning view in fall and spring), the Old Kenyon building, the college's first building, is a student favorite because of its multicolored spire.

The prettiest places to study
Photo credit: Michael P. Lauer

University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia

The gorgeous campus of the University of Virginia, founded by Thomas Jefferson, is not just one of the prettiest college campuses in the country, but is the only university in the U.S. to be designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site! The grand architecture, fields of green and pockets of large, lush trees make this university a gorgeous place to be (especially in the fall and spring). A favorite spot for the students, faculty and photographers is the Rotunda, which towers over the landscape with Neoclassical pillars and a large dome. The Rotunda was modeled after the Pantheon in Rome and many of the other buildings have a very similar look and feel.

The prettiest places to study
Photo credit: M. Haug

Lewis and Clark College, Portland, Oregon

Located just six miles from trendy downtown Portland, Lewis and Clark College feels like it's light-years away from the hustle and bustle. Situated among 137 acres of lush green forests, sweeping pathways, gardens and stone walls, this stunning college looks and feels more like a posh ski lodge than an academic institution. One of the most beautiful (and popular) buildings is the Frank Manor House, which was once a 35-room private mansion and now houses the financial, admissions and business office. Another hot spot for students and visitors is the Reflecting Pool and Estate Gardens, which are bordered by a lush wall and feature a stunning view of Mount Hood. In addition to the stellar views, the college sits right by the Tyron Creek State Natural Area, a popular hiking spot of more than 600 acres.

The prettiest places to study

University of San Diego, San Diego, California

If you ask most of the students at University of San Diego why they love their school, they will probably answer "the weather," "the architecture" and "the views." This acclaimed university also made the coveted Travel & Leisure list as one of the most beautiful campuses in the country and after one visit, it's not hard to see why. The buildings are reminiscent of the Spanish Renaissance with delicate and elaborate ironwork and ornately carved woodwork. You can't miss the Immaculata Chapel, which has a bright blue dome that is often visible from the entire city. Another favorite to catch some views (and rays) is the Garden of the Sea, located right near the Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace & Justice, because of its serene and relaxing reflecting pool and gardens that offer breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean and the city's widespread beaches.

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