One factor used by virtually everyone in the formulation of a college list is beauty, or campus aesthetics. I don’t care who you are; everyone passes at least some sort of judgment on a school based on the greenness of its lawns and the style of its buildings. Here for your viewing pleasure, as well as for your reference when applying to colleges and universities, is my personal list of the five most beautiful college campuses in New England.

5. Middlebury College

Located in the green mountains of the so aptly named state of Vermont, Middlebury College is a hidden haven for the nature loving, granola crunching outdoorsman. I visited in the dead of winter, yet I can honestly say I have not been to a more peaceful place since that visit.

The majority of the buildings are of a soft, grey stone, blending famously with the snow that undoubtedly falls through six months of the year. When it’s not snowing, you’re either witnessing the blooming of thousands of colorful flowers, or better yet, the changing of a vast woodland from forest green to vibrant oranges and reds. There is no better place to experience fall than the hills of Vermont.

Down the street from the campus lies the petite town of Middlebury. A cozy New England inn, splendid chocolate shop, and Middlebury College’s campus store are about the only things you’ll find nestled in this idyllic, picturesque town. But that’s all you need when you’re living in the most peaceful place on earth.

4. Brown University

Right in the heart of the city of Providence is Brown University. Widely regarded as the most open and free thinking of the Ivy League, the university’s architecture and visual appeal do not disappoint. The beautiful brown buildings (who would have thought?) are arranged in a way to provide shelter from the small but bustling city of Providence. This arrangement, paired with the classic black gates that encompass the majority of campus, serves as a reminder that although the school is a vital organ in the city, it is also a safe, home-like sanctuary in the middle of Rhode Island.

Students can sit under some of the most expensive trees in the nation on a luscious, green quad to read Walden and feel like they’re miles from civilization, or take the alternate route by walking fifteen minutes to the massive shopping center that is the Providence Place Mall. Live from the state that harbored the free spirit of Roger Williams and radical thinking Anne Hutchinson, Brown University caters to the eyes and the minds of virtually every college student.

3. Dartmouth College

Despite the flooded paths during spring, Dartmouth’s campus is nearly perfect. With an astoundingly large quad at the center of campus, fit with old but majestic buildings on three sides, the Dartmouth campus is what you picture when you hear “college.” It’s also what you visualize when you hear “Animal House,” but that’s a different article’s story to tell.

With the iconic clock tower stealthily hovering above all the other buildings in the small town of Hanover, Dartmouth rises out of the New Hampshire mountains with stunning grace. The snow is pristine white, the autumn leaves vibrantly orange, and the lettermen’s jackets only slightly greener than the lawns. This Ivy League institution is another nature lover’s dream, with marvelous skiing, rowing, hiking, and camping destinations in literally every direction off campus.

The college also comes with the lovely town of Hanover, which is essentially Dartmouth, some houses, and a perfect main street right outside the campus grips. On this street you will find Dartmouth apparel galore,the best apple pie in New England, and the humblest, friendliest diner in New Hampshire. The Big Green is a true gem amidst the New England wilderness.

2. Yale University

New Haven, Connecticut: not the best city in the world. But Yale University does what it can to turn that around. From buildings that eerily resemble those of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, to an abundance of elegant quads, Yale is what you dream of. There are no words to describe the aura given off by the ancient stone and shady trees other than to say that you know you’re somewhere special when you step on Yale’s campus. With so much history and so much promise, it’s hard not to feel pleasantly humbled by the greatness.

As disastrous as some areas of New Haven are, the area in and around Yale’s campus is rather spectacular. Many of the buildings in which the local businesses operate out of are actually owned by the Ivy League institute. Yale buys these buildings so that they can enforce rules and codes by which the businesses must abide in order to make the city a safer and prettier place.

For all intents and purposes, Yale basically is New Haven. And Yale is famously beautiful.

1. Amherst College

Maybe it was because I visited on the best fall day New England has ever had. Maybe it was because Amherst was the first college I ever toured. Maybe it was the cherubic shade cast on a lawn so green, it was recommended not to stare at it for more than three seconds at a time, lest you risk permanent entrancement. Perhaps it was the purple tint of the mountains rubbing off on the football field, or the spotless brick walls of the freshman dorms, or quite possibly the most comfortable Adirondack lawn chairs every to be sat upon which were scattered across the campus.

I really could not tell you what exactly made me fall in love with Amherst College’s campus, what precisely led me to my decision that this place was heaven on earth.

Amherst is the epitome of an elite liberal arts college, nestled in the epitome of a New England town. With book stores and coffee shops, bike trails and farmer’s markets, Amherst and the nearby small city of Northampton are the poster children for fall, for New England, and for college life. Everyone should visit this monumental campus and this quaint, perfect area, regardless of whether or not you plan on applying.

There’s my list – my entirely arbitrary, self-serving, biased list of the most beautiful college campuses in New England. I could just have easily written about Harvard’s enchanted allure, or Bowdoin’s whispering pines, or Connecticut’s hidden treasure of Wesleyan University; but these five stuck in my mind for some reason.

Visit. Enjoy. Take it all in.

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Eric Aldieri is a junior at Villanova University double majoring in Philosophy and Humanities. You can contact him at ealdieri@villanova.edu or @ealdi94 .

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  1. Ginny Torreso on August 12, 2013

    Even though it will be quite a few years before my kids are touring college campuses, you’ve made me want to visit Amherst. Sounds like a little slice of Heaven.

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