Prospective students, rejoice! College and university administrators are waking up to the realization that academic opportunities aren't the only thing attracting students to a particular school. Student life can be a big part of the decision, and in response, institutions of higher learning are competing in campus amenities wars. The result? Shiny new residence halls and fitness centers.
But, when it comes to campus facilities, it's not always about swank. Sometimes, it's the quirky, unique, fun — and perhaps a little silly — offerings that capture the imaginations of students and end up improving the quality of life at a campus overall.
Here are 10 unusual (and totally awesome) college amenities available at campuses large and small, all across the country, in no particular order, that might help you find the school you're looking for:
1. Library Napping Stations
University of Michigan (Michigan)
Sleep deprivation can take a toll on your health, yet many college kids clock way fewer hours than they need. So the University of Michigan took matters into its own hands by creating designated areas for students to take nap breaks during long hours of study at the Shapiro Undergraduate Library. The stations offer multiple cots with a time limit of 30 minutes, and there are lockers where students can stash their stuff.
Read about other schools in Michigan, whether on-campus or online.
2. The Ball Pit at Simmons Hall
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Massachusetts)
This residence hall at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) features distinguished architecture, thousands of windows, terraces, a two-story movie theater and … a giant ball pit! Behind a door labeled "Meditation Room," the ball pit was created to help students de-stress with a fun diversion.
Did this school pique your interest? Learn more about on-campus and online schools in Massachusetts.
3. Language Immersion at the Oldenborg Center
Pomona College (California)
Want to do a year abroad without leaving campus? The Oldenborg Center provides living accommodations with an international flair. Every year, about 115 Pomona College students choose to live in sections that focus on one of six languages and cultures: Spanish, French, German, Russian, Japanese and Chinese. Programming — including conversation classes, luncheons, film series and other cultural events — is lead by a native speaker who resides at Oldenborg. Each section features a language lounge stocked with reading materials and games.
Check out on-campus and online schools in California to see if a school there is right for you.
4. Rock-Paper-Scissors Club
University of Kentucky (Kentucky)
This quirky club, which started at the University of Kentucky in 2005, allows students to get together and battle out decisions, study opponents' behavior and even brainstorm ways to incorporate the game into everyday life. The club isn't as random as you might think: There's been a USA Rock Paper Scissors League sponsored by Bud Light.
Read more about on-campus and online schools in Kentucky for more fun.
5. Golf Simulator
Texas State University (Texas)
Located in the Student Recreation Center, this simulator offers students 41 PGA courses to choose from as they take a break from the books to hit some golf balls. The simulator is available to all Texas State University students. In addition to recreational free play, the university organizes leagues and tournaments year-round.
Maybe perks like this mean all on-campus and online schools in Texas are worth reading about.
6. Campus Fire Pits
Sweet Briar College (Virginia)
This liberal arts women's college in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia boasts two campus fire pits for students, one by the boathouse and another by the barn (if that helps to illustrate the campus' idyllic charm). Grab your friends and bring your own firewood!
Online schools in Virginia can be a complement to beautiful ones like Sweet Briar. Learn more about them today.
7. Culinary Corner at the Wellness Center
University of North Dakota (North Dakota)
The demo kitchen, located on the first floor of the Wellness Center at the University of North Dakota, offers cooking classes to students and faculty on a wide range of culinary specialties, from sushi to homemade pizza. The Culinary Corner's focus is on teaching the university community how to eat healthier and improve their culinary skills.
Why not learn more about North Dakota schools online and on campus?
8. 35-Foot Climbing Wall
Boston University (Massachusetts)
Rock climbing is renowned for improving strength, endurance, balance, flexibility and mental agility. The Barreca Climbing Wall is one of the main attractions of Boston University's Fitness and Recreation Center, built in 2005. The wall features eight, 30-foot high top-rope belay stations and a 12-foot high bouldering structure, as well as crash pads and spotters to protect falls. Boston University students have full access to the climbing wall at no charge.
9. Private Pool and Spa at the Cuarto Area
University of California, Davis (California)
There's no better break from studying than lounging poolside. The Cuarto Area at UC Davis consists of a dining hall and three residence halls, two of which offer students a private pool, spa and patio. Not into swimming or sunbathing? Relax in the additional landscaped courtyard nearby.
10. Lobster Bake at the Dining Hall
Bowdoin College (Maine)
Bowdoin College ranks consistently at the top of Princeton Review's "Best Food" list. This small liberal arts college in Brunswick, Maine, takes great pride in its dining menu, stocked by the Bowdoin Organic Garden. (They even have their own campus maple syrup!) The dining experience culminates with a lobster bake following the college's baccalaureate ceremony, the day before commencement.
Maine might be the place for you. Read more about on-campus and online schools in Maine today.
Whether it's one of these schools or a school in our online directory be sure to keep an eye our for some fun in your educational search.
1. Rock Climbing: Climb the Great Wall of FitRec, Boston University Fitness & Recreation Center,
2. Dining: Healthy Eating, Bowdoin College, http://www.bowdoin.edu/dining/why/index.shtml
3. "The Weirdest College Clubs," Huffington Post, Dec. 12, 2012, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/12/12/the-weirdest-college-club_n_2284310.html#slide=1833788
4. Simmons Hall, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, http://simmons.mit.edu/prospectives.html
5. The Oldenborg Center for Modern Languages and International Relations, Pomona College, http://oldenborg.pomona.edu/about/
6. Campus Fire Pits, Sweet Briar College, http://sbc.edu/outdoor-programs/campus-fire-pits
7. Department of Campus Recreation: Golf Simulator, Texas State University, http://www.campusrecreation.txstate.edu/golf/golfsimulator.html
8. Cuarto Residence Hall Area, University of California - Davis Student Housing, http://www.housing.ucdavis.edu/housing/cuarto/
9. UND Wellness Center: Culinary Corner, University of North Dakota, http://und.edu/health-wellness/wellness/nutrition/index.cfm
10. "University of Michigan Helping Students Study by Implementing Library 'Napping Stations,'" Russell Westerholm, University Herald, May 22, 2014, http://www.universityherald.com/articles/9551/20140522/university-of-michigan-helping-students-study-by-implementing-library-napping-stations.htm