Have you ever felt out of place with your closet full of flannels and love for obscure bands? Fear not: the time has come for all you hipsters out there to find your home. At these schools, you’ll rarely see the usual long list of legging-wearing Starbucks lovers. Sure, hipsters exist in all corners of the world, but these schools seriously rock that man bun, kale obsessed vibe.
10. University of Texas at Austin
At UT Austin, you’ll find hipster students on study breaks ditching the usual Dunkin’ by sipping artisan coffee at Epoch Coffee. And for their organic-only farm fresh needs, they have the campus’s Concho Community Garden or Austin’s Hopes Farmer Market at their fingertips. The garden and farmer’s market gives students a chance to grow and eat local produce to fulfill those natural-only cravings. Austin also boasts the title of “Live Music Capital of the World” which basically means a big hipster fest with music events like South by Southwest (SXSW), which features more than 2,000 underground artists. Hipsters can gorge themselves before rocking their indie hearts out thanks to the dozens of food trucks, like the Korean Komfort Food Truck sitting on west campus, that offer cuisine from around the world.
Berkeley, the home of infamous anti-war protests, doubles as a hipster haven. You’ll see students rocking their indie gear from Urban Outfitters, or one of the boutiques that’ll take you straight back to the 60’s (the Elmwood district alone has almost 80 independently owned stores). “I’ve seen several people transport with unicycle[s]. One professor used to enter lecture hall riding on it,” junior Electrical Engineering and Computer Science major Tommy Ogura said. Of course, it wouldn’t be a hipster paradise without Cal Dining, the first dining hall to receive organic certification. As students chew their baby kale salad, they can chill out to indie music from their student-run radio station, KALX 90.7 FM. When not in class, students hit up Fourth St and The Uptown in Oakland for their hipster needs, complete with Artis Coffee where coffee beans are roasted on site one pound at a time, so even their coffee beans are alternative.
8. Kenyon College
Organic and hipster go together like PB&J, and that’s no joke at Kenyon. From their 480 acre nature preserve to a student operated farm with goats and fresh herbs, there’s a steady stream of earth-friendly options. Although this small liberal arts school feels like it’s in the middle of nowhere, its funky vibe is anything but dull. “I’d say we’re on the more alternative side of things just by virtue of being rural, liberal arts and under 2,000 students,” sophomore English major and Phi Kappa Tau member John Fletcher Hartman said. Students can even express their progressive ideas with their five student publications, as well as a student-run record label and radio station — every establishment-hating writers’ dream.
7. Rhode Island School of Design
It’s no surprise that one of the oldest and most prestigious art and design schools in the country claims a spot on this list. “In my opinion, students here are not ‘hipsters’ for the sake of confronting mainstream cultures, but rather because they are creative leaders who are eager to find new ways to express their individuality,” freshman pre-illustration major Franco Zacharzewski said. Students are free to express themselves thanks to their emphasis on creative majors like illustration, graphic design and ceramics. When they aren’t telling the world how artsy they are, they hit up Thayer St, ditching mainstream chains for its lineup of independent stores. You’ll find hole in the wall coffeehouses such as Blue State Coffee and vintage shops full of perfect unique gifts, like a pop art magazine clutch. At RISD, even the coffee is liberal, so hipsters won’t be let down.
The year-round Arlington Farmer’s Market, ideal for those who’d prefer to avoid the pesticides at grocery stores, comes with with salt-free spice blends and locally grown flowers for your garden. From farm fresh anything to gluten free desserts, the hip won’t go hungry. This liberal arts school, where English and visual arts are the most popular majors, takes its humanities status to the next level by offering classes like the philosophy of art to support non-linear thinking. “All too often our education thinking is limited to rational or analytical or quantitative,” professor Giovanna Borradori said. “But a course like this allows you to think about all different sources. I mostly focus on visual, photographic, pictorial or cinematic.” Even the usual bathrooms get kicked to the curb, as the progressive students brought in co-ed bathrooms to be inclusive of the whole student population.
5. Bard College
This private liberal arts college calls itself “A Place to Think,” which in Hipster Speak means heaven. With majors like Philosophy and Religious studies as the most popular, free thinking is required. The annual arts and crafts fair gives students the chance to decorate their rooms with all sorts of unique trinkets. Students channel their emotions into expressing themselves at places outside the typical clubs with organizations like the Surrealist Training Circus. How many schools have students perform stilt-walking and acrobatics like a real life Ringling show? Students can also sip their locally sourced coffee from cafes such as Murray’s as they stroll through craft stores in the nearby town of Tivoli, or critique the latest indie movie at the independent theater in Rhinebeck. As Chandler Bing would say, could this school be more hipster?
Vegan friendly and musical are perhaps the best words to describe this liberal arts school. Four dining halls offer vegan friendly foods (mmm, gluten free muffins). Their world renowned Conservatory of Music even created the indie garage-punk group the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, who performed at the previously mentioned South by Southwest music festival. Anyone who felt awkward in high school will fit right in at Oberlin, where individuality is everywhere from the food to the squirrels. “Throw in some albino squirrels and the result is a chickpea eating, doc martin sporting, pure tom foolery,” Third year sociology major Dan Lev said. “Going to Oberlin has made it that I genuinely don’t understand why somebody wouldn’t want to get naked and run in front of a 1000 people,” Lev said, proving once again that normal is overrated. In fact, ultimate frisbee is the most popular sport. Take that football.
3. Reed College
The TV show Portlandia that makes fun of Portland’s quirkiness doesn’t lie. Instead of receiving the normal letter grades, Reedies get written feedback on their work so they can focus more on learning. Aside from their unique stance on academics, this independent liberal arts school sports activities that may seem bizarre, like beer brewing to bike building. “You would be hard-pressed to find a student on Reed not sipping on a yerba mate, listening to Andrew Jackson Jihad, and talking canonical texts over a nice, local, vegan lunch,” freshman biology major Leilani Ganser said. When not busy receiving their non-grades, students can chug local beers (because Portland is an unofficial brewery capitol) and visit Powell’s City of Books, a locally based independent bookstore, or stroll through art galleries in Pearl District. Remember: Oregon is tax-free, A.K.A. a place that takes free thinking to a whole new level.
2. Emerson College
Since it only offers majors related to communications or the arts, if you’re not creative then what the hell are you doing at Emerson? “With the course catalog that we have, [hipsters] can essentially get everything they need for a conversation full of random facts and existential theory,” sophomore writing, literature and publishing major Rachael Marks said. For the hipster environment, look no further than WERS, Emerson’s award winning radio station known for indie and alternative music and lack of commercials. With more than 10 student magazines/journals and activities such as theater groups, Emerson is the place to be to let your voice be heard. Beyond this campus lies Boston in all of its alternative glory, where hipsters can basically find anything to suit their ironic needs. “We’re also very close to the Boston China town and Newbury Street which has a lot of quirky and hipster stores on it (such as Newbury comics and this sweet, but expensive store called the Fairy store which claims to be home to the world’s softest unicorns),” Marks said. After a long day of trying to perfect one’s top knot, hipsters can sit back in one of the dozens of coffeehouses and plan their next ironic Instagram. #namaste.
NYU strays from your typical campus with hipster neighborhoods like Williamsburg. There you’ll find vintage boutiques, record stores and dive bars in all shapes and sizes, so students barely notice the lack of a quad. Activities that none of us have ever heard of are the norm, such as star sign parties that have sage cleanses and celebrate the current zodiac sign. “Many parties feature polaroid or film cameras, LCD sound system/arcade fire based playlists, mom jeans and turtlenecks, ironic t-shirts, etc,” sophomore film student Caroline Rugo said. “If I scroll through my Facebook feed, I always see my NYU friends checking into events that are either super ironic (‘stay in bed and contemplate suicide’) or extremely hipster (‘John Hughes Trivia Night).” There’s a reason why so many renowned artsy people like poet Jorie Graham, Aziz Ansari or James Franco can proudly call NYU their alma mater — where the Hipster gene flows in everyone’s veins.
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*Updated March 30, 2016 with the hipster quiz and additional hipster fix article links.
**Updated April 25, 2016 to include a new video.
***Updated on January 18, 2018 to include updated quiz.