Top 10 Colleges for Hippies

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We all know those kids on campus styling Birkenstocks and a tie-dye shirt. They say things like, “You should totally join my Monsanto and the Man protest this week,” or, “I just didn’t feel like wearing shoes today.” Classified in the ’60s as hippies, these crunchy granola free thinkers still exist in college today, attending universities that support their liberal political views (equal rights for all, man!), quirky interests (who wouldn’t want to know how to grow their own vegetable garden?) and fringe and denim jacket fashion. These 10 colleges don’t need a football season, instead they rally together and cultivate hippie culture by offering students alternative learning resources, an environmentally-friendly campus and opportunities for artistic expression.

10. Evergreen State College

With breathtaking landscapes and legal weed, Washington State cultivates forward thinkers, hipsters and artists.From playing music in the courtyards, to painting in the dorm rooms, [everyone] has something that they enjoy doing outside of classes. The location of the campus, being in the middle of a forest and walking distance from the water, students often traverse the grounds in their free time [as well],” said Evergreen freshman Amanda Brian. Instead of majors, students at Evergreen State College choose from areas of emphasis and map out their own curriculum.  Professors even include a narrative evaluation upon completing a course so students take away more than just a letter grade from their classes. At Evergreen State, students control their destiny and unique learning. Right on, man.

9. New York University

Whether you consider yourself a vegan, avid thrift store shopper or coffee enthusiast, as long as you like different, you belong at New York University. From liberals, artists and lifestyle bloggers to DJs, musicians and fashion photographers, NYU has it all. “[I would describe NYU students] as sexually ambiguous, with a very particular style of dress and manner. Everyone is really unique but at the same time usually falls into some alt-category like punk or manic-pixie-dream-girl,” NYU junior Mirella Miville said. The alternative, hip coffee shops found at every corner insist on serving their coffee in ceramic mugs instead of paper in light of their eco-conscious values. You’ll never pass Washington Square Park without seeing at least one musician with an open guitar case at their feet. NYU’s unconventional culture attracts anyone who relishes an offbeat lifestyle.

8. Oberlin College

Oberlin is like the Lena Dunham of today’s often sexist TV business—did I mention the brilliant Girls creator and feminist Lena Dunham is an Oberlin alumna? True to its hippie values, Oberlin broke down stuffy social norms by granting the first undergraduate degrees to women in the country when founded in 1833. Oberlin breaks educational norms by offering a Winter Term, which gives students four weeks to set aside traditional rigorous semester curriculum, instead focusing on self-education and independent study. Students can find their own project to work on or enroll in the winter term study abroad sessions in Egypt, El Salvador, London, Costa Rica, Guadalajara or Mexico City. In the regular semesters, Oberlin’s prestigious Conservatory of Music program focuses on helping musicians remain one with their art and music, all while mastering jazz improvisation. It may not be where John Lennon learned how to play guitar and sing, but this liberal arts school is a hippie, music-loving haven.

7. Eckerd College

When you see bikes all over your campus, you probably assume they belong to another, perhaps eco-conscious student. At Eckerd College, however, the bikes belong to everyone. Students can ride the yellow bikes all over campus as often as they please. “I don’t know of any other school that has yellow bikes for all students to use freely. Sailing recruits, and I’m sure other potential students, always talk about the yellow bikes remaining in their memory when choosing a school,” said Eckerd 2014 alumnus Walker Banks. The bikes are accessories to Eckerd’s beachy and earth-loving lifestyle. Students can rent sailboats, canoes, kayaks on a “mini-beach” on campus while they throw back a beer or two. Yes, you heard correctly, Eckerd is a wet campus, so students 21 or older can drink on property. Imagine sipping a gluten free beer with your professor discussing your thesis on bird estuaries—what’s more progressive than that?

6. University of California, Santa Cruz

If you can’t live a day without tending to your garden or flipping through a plant and herb guidebook, Santa Cruz may be the school for you and your Chacos. Not only is the campus located on 2,000 acres of forest and meadow, but it also has 25 miles of hiking and jogging trails and a beach, Monterey Bay, in Santa Cruz. “[Santa Cruz students like to] explore, go out in nature, find a hammock and drink a beer in the sunshine,” Santa Cruz student Carley Richter said. “We both enjoy and respect nature because we are immersed in it everyday.” Make sure you visit Dead Central, a room full of memorabilia donated by the band Grateful Dead. The hippie-drenched rock band’s exhibit and archive full of books and photos of the group’s history can be accessed at the campus library. Anyone who worships Jerry Garcia and finds beauty in getting caught in the rain would fit in perfectly at Santa Cruz.

5. Sarah Lawrence College

Imagine being unable to answer the question “What is your major?” If you attend Sarah Lawrence in Bronxville, NY, you won’t be able to. “The benefit of having concentrations instead of majors is that you are allowed to explore various options at the same time. While I am concentrating on Writing, I am also studying Film and Art History. [I like] the system, it’s rather liberal,” said Sarah Lawrence freshmen Shaurya Chawla. While the prestigious college is also known for its heavy partying scene, the campus is engulfed in art. Students can travel to New York City to gaze at Andy Warhol’s Campbell’s Soup Cans piece at the Moma or attend the Folk Music Festival on campus, where folk musicians play for a day long and baklava is known as “legendary.”  

4. Warren Wilson College

Warren Wilson College was founded on a farm in Asheville, North Carolina—need I say more? The college takes pride in its Triad system. The Triad system, where students follow their self-organized concentrations opposed to a set curriculum, has three components: academics, work and service.  Students gain work experience by doing anything on campus from gardening to wood working. A student with an English concentration can work as an assistant to a creative writing faculty. Coursework at Warren Wilson also includes service projects to areas of town facing discrimination or violence. “I’m a huge fan of the Triad, especially the work program. [I] think working on campus encourages students to take better care of the school, [and] students are less likely to litter or to make a big mess because they know that their classmates will end up cleaning their mess,” Warren Wilson junior Julia Griffin said. “Through work, we connect to each other and the school as a whole.”

3. Fairhaven College of Interdisciplinary Studies at Western Washington University

A tree grows in Brooklyn? Nah, I’m pretty sure they’re all getting planted at Fairhaven College in Bellingham, WA. The college within the Western Washington University fits the tree-hugging college mold by substituting a football team and Saturday morning tailgates for a farm that they call the Outback program. One of the Outback’s four main gardens, the community garden, lets students, faculty or community members commit to a plot of land and grow anything organic. The educational garden demonstrates the productivity of organic agriculture, a forest garden filled with native plants, berry bushes and flowers, as well as an herb garden. The Outback farm serves as a hands on experience for students to cultivate an environmental responsibility as they learn more about conservation, restoration and farming. Trees need love too, and those attending Fairhaven know how to treat a plant.

2. Naropa University

Om, Om, Om. If you listen closely, you’ll hear students meditating in Boulder, CO at Naropa University as they consider how their education fits into the world through introspection and tranquility. Hey, whatever works for you. It may sound spiritual, but that’s because the college is the first accredited Buddhist-inspired university in the nation. At Naropa, students engage in a contemplative education, which includes studies through traditional academics, experiential learning and contemplative or first-person inquiry. While students and faculty practice sitting meditation, compassion practices, Centering Prayer, t’ai chi chuan, yoga, Chinese brushstroke and ikebana to feed their minds through self-awareness, curiosity, creativity and critical thinking, they also take on internships and service trips. These spiritual students embrace any chance they get to know themselves deeper and understand the world beyond its surface. We know that college helps you find yourself, but Naropa pretty much blows traditional state colleges out of the water with their metaphysical methods.

1. New College of Florida

New College emphasizes individuality and liberal learning, integrating academia fitting for their far from ordinary student body. This progressive college encourages students to participate in hands-on research in their chosen fields, whether that means performing in a music hall, partnering with a marine lab or volunteering at a homeless shelter. “NCF students are very passionate so a lot of people participate in volunteering. Students intern at places around town which gives them more experience that they would not be able to receive in the classroom,” said New College senior Joey Vincennie. Does not having a mascot or grading on a pass/fail basis have anything to do with this? When the philanthropic students aren’t in class or volunteering, they may find themselves at a party on campus (you can consume alcohol in your dorm), practicing yoga by the water or maybe at Anarchy Deathsticks club meeting (creating is good for the soul, even if it is just knitting a scarf). New College not only feels like a blast from the past to the ’60s, but also gives their alternative students a place to embrace their quirky, artistic and innovative culture.  

No Hippie Dorm is Complete Without the Perfect Tapestry

Ocean Sunset Tapestry 

Tap 2 Mockup

Starry Skies Tapestry

Tap 3 mockup

Check out more awesome college stuff

Updated August 3, 2016: We added awesome tapestries and links to get them.

Allison is a future New Yorker who likes coffee, books and records more than she likes people. She is currently studying Editing, Writing, and Media at Florida State.

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