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College Campuses: A Look Inside Your Dream School

Campus Beauty shots

The process of getting into college is long and stressful; at TAS, some students’ lives are oriented towards making it into the Ivy League from freshman year onwards. It’s easy to find reviews and average SAT scores for these high profile schools, but this review focuses instead on the atmospheric vibe of the university. These ratings reflect our impression of being on and around the campus, not the respective schools’ academic merit or ability to advance your future career.


Princeton University seems as if it has been pulled straight from 1920s Great Britain and dropped into 2016 smack in the middle of nowhere, also known as New Jersey. Unlike urban schools, the Princeton grounds are almost completely self-contained, bounded by beautiful ornate gates. Once you step inside, a massive, breathtaking campus unfolds, with narrow paths winding through quaint buildings and the immaculate Prospect Gardens. Strolling through the idyllic lawns provides a sense of peace that is seldom found elsewhere; in such a tranquil place, it would be impossible not to learn. On the flip side, Princeton is an hour’s train ride away from New York, the nearest major city. In order to create its peaceful environment, the university had to be virtually isolated from the outside world, but the tradeoff is that there’s very little to do nearby.

Acceptance Rate: 6.5%

Campus Rating: 5 Stars

Surrounding Area: 1 Star


Columbia University is located in the Upper Manhattan area of New York City. Because of its location in one of the most expensive cities in the world, Columbia’s campus, at 32 acres, is only twice the size of TAS and one-twentieth the size of Princeton. The initial vibe is somewhat depressing; despite its grand neo-classical architecture and massive white pillars, Columbia feels cramped and crowded. While the residence areas of other universities include spacious halls surrounding beautiful lawns and courtyards, Columbia housing uses brownstones and apartments. On the bright side, the Big Apple is right at your fingertips in Columbia, earning it a perfect rating for Surrounding Attractions.

Acceptance Rate: 6%

Campus Rating: 2 Stars

Surrounding Area: 5 Stars


Brown University, in Providence, Rhode Island, is officially listed as an urban campus; however, Providence . That’s not to say that the city has nothing to offer; it struck me as somewhat of a middle ground between the frantic atmosphere of Columbia and the suburban tranquility of Princeton. Campus life is full of opportunities. There are countless clubs to satisfy any extracurricular interest, from learning about the LGBT community to sitting around watching The Office while eating pizza. Personally, I saw that Brown students were truly some of the most enthusiastic and outgoing students I have ever seen. The campus itself is welcoming; in fact, it feels cozy because each mini-community, called a “unit”, is closely knit. These “units” have yearly competitions in crazy things like watermelon smashing, and begin friendships that will last throughout college.

Acceptance Rate: 9%

Campus Rating: 4 Stars

Surrounding Area: 3 Stars


Harvard University, the shining dream school of every TAS student, is located in the busy urban setting of Cambridge, Massachusetts. An intriguing mishmash of storied libraries and modern glass structures are scattered over a 210-acre campus. Unfortunately, bustling Boston streets intersect the grounds, so even as I walked through the historic red brick dorm buildings, honking cars detracted from the Harvard atmosphere. The renowned Harvard Yard must be a wonderful place for relaxation during the school year, but was overrun by tourists during my visit. On the bright side, vibrant Boston attractions like Fenway Park and Boston Common are only a short bike ride down the Charles River away.

Acceptance Rate: 5.2%

Campus Rating: 3 Stars

Surrounding Area: 4.5 Stars


Ornate arches and sophisticated stone fountains adorn the Gothic campus of Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut. Similar to Providence, New Haven is a small-to-medium sized city, convenient but not too busy. Unfortunately, according to Law Street Media, New Haven is the second most dangerous city in the United States, but the area surrounding the university seems relatively peaceful and safe. In my few hours spent at Yale, I got the impression through numerous small but significant details that this was a place where the people had personality.  For example, Yale hosts annual Christmas dinners for freshmen that are lavishly decorated and themed; one year they had a Harry Potter themed Yule Ball! On the academic side, Yale is richly endowed with facilities like the Sterling Memorial Library, which was originally designed as a cathedral and has the reverent atmosphere of one. As I walked through the hallowed quads and listened to the wind rustle through the trees, I understood why Yale admission is so coveted all over the world.

Acceptance Rate: 6.3%

Campus Rating: 5 Stars

Surrounding Area: 1.5 Stars


Located in the District of Columbia, Georgetown University is the oldest Catholic and Jesuit institution in the United States. On the outside, the buildings perfectly fit into that description but behind these medieval-styled buildings, Georgetown has a large campus filled with renovated and modern structures. The university is in one of the safer suburban areas of DC, which also has one of the oldest and popular shopping areas within a 10 minute drive (search “Georgetown Cupcakes” on Google). The overall feel was very welcoming and homely. There are different restaurants that are great for socializing and cafeterias that have areas for studying. If students do not live on campus, many live in the many nearby apartments and houses which contributes to this sense of a community. The one flaw that I saw about Georgetown’s location is the massive and inevitable traffic due to the bridge at the front of the school being the fastest route between Maryland and Virginia. However, D.C. has numerous resources to your college experience as it contains the White House, Smithsonian (Museums), infinite government buildings and historical sites.

Acceptance Rate: 16.4%

Campus Rating: 4 Stars

Surrounding Area: 4.5 Stars


Many of you going to Boston will see schools such as Boston College and Boston University, but one school that is often neglected is Tufts University. Tufts is a private research university and, like Boston College, it doesn’t have the big city feel. Like Georgetown, Tuf
ts is surrounded by houses and apartments which gives it a comfortable and suburban feel. Something that really caught my attention was a story by my campus tour guide. She said that the president of the school would be very involved in school life. He worked out, went sledding, and attended dormitory gatherings along with the students. In addition to that, students could also choose to just live in language society dorms around the campus. This really shows the relaxed and united atmosphere that Tufts University has and that every student has a place in this school. Also, for those who love watching or listening to music performances, their pride and joy is their A-Cappella group which recorded songs for Glee! Located in Boston, Tufts is also just a subway ride away from Boston’s major attractions and numerous job opportunities.

Acceptance Rate: 14%

Campus Rating: 4 Stars

Surrounding Area: 4.5 Stars

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