Home to over 4000 universities, the United States offers a dizzying range of schools. While you’re probably familiar with some top schools – Harvard, Yale, MIT, etc. – there are many schools you’ve likely never heard of. From schools that offer only one course at a time to schools that don’t have majors, here are some of the most unique US colleges.
Deep Springs College (Deep Springs, California)
Located on a cattle ranch in rural California, Deep Springs College offers one of the most unique educations available in the United States. Each year, Deep Springs admits only 12-15 new students, who all receive full scholarships. In addition to attending classes, all students are required to work on the farm and to contribute to the college’s robust student government, which has a say in everything from the courses offered each year to admissions decisions for prospective students.
Colorado College (Colorado Springs, Colorado)
Colorado College is famous for its unique academic term system called the “block plan.” While the academic year at most colleges is divided into semesters or quarters during which students take 3-5 classes, Colorado College breaks the year up into eight “blocks” of three-and-a-half weeks each, and students only attend one class during each block. This allows students to deeply immerse themselves in each subject they take. Not to mention, students have more frequent breaks – at the end of every block, they get 4 days off.
Harvey Mudd College (Claremont, California)
If you’re deeply passionate about the sciences, but also enjoy the humanities and arts, Harvey Mudd might be the place for you. Harvey Mudd is not only one of the top STEM schools in the United States, but it’s also a liberal arts college. On top of STEM courses, all students complete courses in the humanities and social. Additionally, Harvey Mudd offers students the option to participate in a unique alternative to a senior thesis: a “clinic.” Clinics are projects students undertake to solve real-world problems for real organizations, from Google to a local food bank. Some of the tasks Harvey Mudders have completed in clinics include developing a more water-efficient toilet valve, creating methods for more effectively matching fingerprints, and helping the military create an injectable bandage.
NYU Abu Dhabi and NYU Shanghai (Abu Dhabi & Shanghai)
In addition to its main campus in New York City, NYU now offers two global campuses, one in Abu Dhabi and one in Shanghai. While other universities have “centers” located in various corners of the globe from which they run study abroad programs, NYU is relatively unique in creating two entirely separate campuses. Each campus is built to function as a complete college, with full-time faculty members, a unique selection of courses and majors, and a student body that’s based at that campus for all four years of college.
Reed College (Portland, Oregon)
If you genuinely love learning but don’t like receiving grades, Reed might be a good place for you. A top liberal arts college located in Portland, Oregon, Reed is known for its strong undergraduate teaching and its lack of grades. While students can request their grades to apply to graduate programs, letter grades are not given at the end of each term. Instead, professors give extensive written feedback to every student for their papers, exams, and labs. This doesn’t mean that students slack off, though. Reed has a reputation for academic inquiry and intensity; students are intellectually curious and Reed’s dedication to providing a strong undergraduate education means that all courses are taught by professors.