Fun, Useful, Unexpected "Stuff" about Colleges You Probably Don't Know!

As I wrote various HuffPost blogs over the years, I gathered bits and pieces about colleges that I thought readers might like to know. Here is some of the collection, hopefully that you find useful and will put a smile on your face.


There are 26,407 public high schools and 10,693 private high schools in the US, which means that every college applicant is competing with 37,100 Valedictorians, 37,100 student body presidents, 37,100 school newspaper editors-in-chief, and 37,100 captains of football teams. (US Department of Education) How about that for a little reality testing?

Take heart; the way to mitigate against those statistics and stand out among all those applicants is to "be yourself." Keep in mind that there are a lot of them, but only one of you. For insight about how to be yourself in college applications, have a look at my HuffPost blog "Why Daring to Be Yourself Is the Best Approach to College Admissions." Colleges really do want to know about you, not what you think they are looking for in applicants.

How would you like to attend college while also working in your field of choice and receiving college credit? Sound too good to be true? Well, not if you attend one of a few colleges that offers a co-op program.

Co-operative education, aka, a co-op program, offers students the opportunity to alternate academic study with full-time, paid, real work experiences in their chosen field. Students love this arrangement and often end up being ever so much better prepared to start a career right after college.

Here are the schools known for the "best" co-op programs, along with their respective academic emphases:

• Berea College (KY)
Health sciences
• Butler University (IN)
Business, pharmacy and health sciences
• Claremont McKenna College (CA)
Liberal arts
• Cornell University (NY)
Broad array of academic topics
• Drexel University (PA)
Health sciences and engineering
• Elon University (NC)
Broad array of academic topics
• Georgia Institute of Technology (GA)
Technologically based careers
• Harvey Mudd College (CA)
Science, engineering and math
• Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MA)
Math, science, engineering, technology and other fields
• Northeastern University (MA)
Science, technology, business and other fields
• Purdue University, West Lafayette (IN)
Engineering, business, education, pharmacy and others
• Rochester Institute of Technology (NY)
Business, science and engineering
• University of Cincinnati (OH)
Broad array of academic topics
• University of Southern California (CA)
Broad array of academic topics
• Worcester Polytechnic Institute (MA)
Engineering and technology
(US News & World Report)

For high school students wanting a nontraditional college experience, consider Deep Springs College in Bishop, California. Of all the colleges in the U.S., this is one of the most unusual and creative. It is a two-year, all-male, room and board/tuition-free, highly respected college with an exemplary record for producing students who transfer into quality four-year colleges. One of the quirky, wonderful things about Deep Springs is that attendance involves 20 hours a week of farm work on the school cattle ranch. Students are described as highly motivated, intellectual, independent, dedicated to service of humanity, and interested in fields ranging from politics, to science, journalism, agriculture, medicine, design, law and business.

How would you like to work at the Vatican, home and workplace of Pope Frances? Villanova University offers a Vatican internship program where students live in Rome and work at the Vatican in social media outreach, write blogs and/or develop virtual reality tours of the Sistine Chapel. Oh yeah; just in case you don't know, His Holiness tweets (@Pontifex). (The Waterhouse Family Institute, WFI)

If your passion is really "out there," and you're worried about finding a college major that fits you, don't fret. In the United States, there are 629 public 4-year colleges, 1845 private 4-year colleges, 1070 public 2-year colleges and 596 private 2-year colleges. (

More importantly, they offer an unbelievable assortment of majors, if you will, something for everybody. To prove this, here is a list of some of the more unusual majors available in colleges in the US:

• Acupuncture, University of Bridgeport
• Adventure Education, Plymouth State University
• Aromatherapy, Goddard College
• Auctioneering, Harrisburg Area Community College
• Bagpiping, Carnegie Mellon University
• Bassoon Studies, University of Arizona
• Blasting (as in dynamite), Bridgemont College
• Casino Management, Oklahoma State University
• Commercial Fishing, Texas A&M
• Costume Technology, DePaul University
• Diving Business & Technology, Florida Keys Community College
• Ecogastronomy, University of New Hampshire
• Funeral Direction, Wayne State University
• Gunsmithing, Lassen Community College
• Herbalism, Goddard College
• Meatcutting, Art Institute of Atlanta
• Midwifery, Georgetown University
• Packaging Science, Michigan State University
• Poultry Science, Texas A&M
• Puppetry, University of Connecticut
• Race Track Industry, University of Arizona
• Reiki, Goddard College
• Sexuality, San Francisco State University and Ohio State University
• Theme Park Engineering, Cal State Long Beach
• Turfgrass Science, Penn State University
(College Board's Book of Majors)

Believe me, there are plenty of small, medium and large colleges out there, offering what you want in a college major. The aforementioned Book of Majors is a great source for finding out what and where.

These days, animals are becoming more and more a part of people's lives. So why not let students bring their animals with them to college? A ridiculous idea, you say. Guess what? Some of the most prestigious colleges in the United States allow such a thing.

Here is a list of "pet-friendly" colleges, including the kinds of animals they welcome.

• California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA
Welcomes up to two cats

• Eckerd College, St. Petersburg, FL
Permits dogs under 40 lbs, cats, ducks, ferrets, rabbits, and fish

• Lehigh University, Bethlehem, PA
Allows fish

• Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA
Permits cats, so long as they have been approved by the Pet Chair of each dorm

• Stephens College, Columbia, MO
Has one dorm that allows just about any kind of animal

• University of Idaho, Moscow, ID
Welcomes cats and small birds in any of the college's apartment residence halls

• University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana, IL
In Ashton Woods residence hall, allows students to have two pets per apartment, including cats, dogs, rabbits and fish

• Washington & Jefferson College, Washington, PA
Permits dogs under 40 lbs, cats, small birds, guinea pigs, and fish

• Wellesley College, Wellesley, MA
Gives permission to keep small birds, fish and/or small rodents in dorm rooms

Of all the entries I collected for this blog, the one that really touched my heart was the highly respected, academic Rice University. How about this? Rice provides a "puppy room" for students to visit during finals that helps them "de-stress" and calm down. I don't know about you, but if I were trying to decide on one college, I think this very thoughtful, student-oriented policy would be enough for me to think Rice is the college for me.

Okay; we all know how obsessed students are with Internet music, ranging from streaming live music through to SPF420 and EDM bros, to Pandora, Google Play music, Spotify and Apple Music. However, many students tell me that they want a college in a town or city that offers all kinds of music venues where they can actually see, hear and play music.

Here are cities known for excellent music scenes and the colleges in or near them:

• Asheville, NC
UNC at Asheville
• Austin, TX
University of Texas at Austin
• Boulder, CO
University of Colorado, Boulder, Naropa University
• Chapel Hill, NC
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, Duke University
• Chicago, IL
DePaul University, Illinois Institute of Art, Loyola University, University of Chicago
• Ithaca, NY
Cornell University, Ithaca College
• Los Angeles, CA
UCLA, USC, Cal State, Los Angeles, Loyola Marymount University, Mt. St. Mary's College
• Madison, WI
University of Wisconsin, Madison
• Minneapolis, MN
Macalester College, St. Olaf College, University of Minnesota
• Nashville, TN
Belmont University, Tennessee State University, Vanderbilt University
• New York City
Barnard College, City University of New York, Columbia University, Cooper Union, Fordham University, The Julliard School, Manhattan College, Manhattan Marymount College, The New School, NYU, Pace University, Pratt Institute
• Portland, OR
Lewis & Clark College, Portland State University, Reed College
• San Francisco, CA
Dominican University, Menlo College, Notre Dame de Namur University, St. Mary's College, San Francisco State University, Stanford University, University of San Francisco
• Seattle, WA
Seattle University, Seattle Pacific University, University of Puget Sound, University of Washington, Seattle
• Tulsa, OK
Oklahoma State University, Oral Roberts University, University of Tulsa
(The College Finder and Schools that Rock)


Surely you know about streaking. Well, just in case you don't, it is an act of running naked through a public place such as a college campus or a sporting event. (Recall the Will Farrell movie, Old School.) Often it's done as a result of a dare or act of protest, but in some cases it's actually a campus ritual. Some of the most prestigious colleges in the country have streaking traditions, including the following:

• Brown University
• Dartmouth College
• Hamilton College
• Harvard University
• Princeton University
• Reed College
• Rice University
• Stanford University
• Tufts University
• University of California, Davis
• University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
• University of Vermont (naked bikers)
• University of Virginia
• Williams College
• Yale University

Sometime during the 60's college students began opening their dorm windows and yelling their heads off at the stroke of midnight to relieve their stress on the last day of Dead Week (a week with no classes when students are supposedly studying for finals). In some cases, just a few students participate, in others the whole campus is involved. Here are the well-known campuses that have this tradition:

• Carleton College
• Columbia University
• Davidson College
• Miami University
• New York University
• Northwestern University
• Santa Clara University
• Smith College
• Swarthmore College
• United States Navel Academy
• University of California, Los Angeles
• University of New Hampshire
• University of Pennsylvania
• University of Southern California
• Vassar College

The underlying message of this blog is that college admissions shouldn't be just about hard work, stress and gloom. There are all kinds of opportunities to find a little humor and fun in what you read and do; just pay attention and look around for it. Believe me, it's there.