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Dr. Kat’s List: Colleges That Feel Like Hogwarts

Having grown up with the Harry Potter books and films, many students want to attend a campus that is reminiscent of what they have read or seen in author J.K. Rowling’s fantastical world. From my campus visits and speaking with my team of counselors at IvyWise, we have identified five American universities that, due to their physical appearance, residential community, academic rigor, extracurricular opportunities, and unique traditions, would make Hogwarts proud.

The University of Chicago: Chicago, IL

The University of Chicago has got Hogwarts written all over it, not least of all in its majestic dining center, Hutchinson Hall, which just so happens to be a replica of Oxford’s Christ Church (the same used in the Harry Potter films). This striking architectural similarity, coupled with the school’s gargoyle gothic facades, is sure to ring any Harry Potter fan’s bell. So, too, is the university’s residential system, which was first introduced at English universities like Cambridge and Oxford (undoubtedly an inspiration for Hogwarts’s four houses). The University of Chicago’s 48 “Houses” have distinct personalities and traditions. Each has its own house councils, tables, and sports teams. As if that weren’t enough, the University’s seal sports a phoenix, a common image throughout the Harry Potter series, and one that would make Dumbledore proud.

Cornell University: Ithaca, NY

Located on 745 acres overlooking Cayuga Lake in upstate New York, Cornell University is fairly removed from the hustle and bustle of Manhattan (as Hogwarts is from London). Cornell’s West Campus residential community, appropriately called “The Gothics,” along with the War Memorial, Risley Residential College, and the Law Library, are gothic masterpieces. There’s big school spirit here, too. Ice hockey, lacrosse, and football games bring out huge crowds. Like competitors in the Triwizard Challenge, Cornellians wear their red scarves when they compete against their Ivy League rivals. Combined with snowy winters, intense studying with students who know how to work hard and play hard, it’s easy to see how the Weasleys would feel at home here.

Learn how to get into Cornell.

Kenyon College: Gambier, OH

Located between Columbus and Cleveland, Kenyon College is the oldest liberal arts college in Ohio. When walking into Peirce Hall, it is impossible not to feel that you’re stepping into Hogwarts’s Great Hall. Here, students enjoy having their meals while admiring large stained-glass windows that illustrate works of American and British literature. See a group of athletic young men with shaved heads wearing large black and purple Kenyon jackets? Don’t be afraid — they’re not from Slytherin House. Chances are they are members of Kenyon’s record-setting men’s swimming team, who compete as the Owls. No other team has been as successful as Kenyon’s, which won 34 national championships (31 of them consecutively). The women are good, too, with 25 national swimming championships. Lastly, there are so many trees on this thousand-acre campus that it may feel like the Forbidden Forest. Fortunately, Hagrid does not need to protect students from mystical creatures that lurk there. Instead, you are likely to find actors, writers, and scientists who are passionate about studying and living in this tight community.

Bryn Mawr College: Bryn Mawr, PA

Don’t be surprised that when you visit this liberal arts college for women outside of Philadelphia, you’ll find students who are proud of their campus, which is often compared to Hogwarts. With cloisters and residence halls with stained glass and in-room fireplaces, Bryn Mawr‘s castle-like campus possesses the Gothic flair one would expect to find in England. Harry would be proud that the school’s mascot is an owl. And although Bryn Mawr does not have residential houses, each incoming class has its own color, class adversary, and sister class. As any alumna will tell you, spending four years here is a magical experience (as Hermione could probably attest).

Learn more about Bryn Mawr and other women’s colleges.

Yale University: New Haven, CT

As the third-oldest college in America, this might be as close to Hogwarts as one can get. Yale University‘s campus is full of towers, courtyards, arches, and balconies, and boasts some of the country’s most breathtaking gothic architecture. Like Hogwarts, the Yale campus conceals many nooks and crannies. For example, under Sterling Library there’s a tunnel that leads to another library, part of Yale’s large underground network of unseen passageways, some of which remain locked or forgotten. Yale’s secret societies (such as Skull and Bones, which has been made famous by Hollywood) may remind Rowling fans of Dumbledore’s Army. Like the infamous sorting hat, the administration places incoming students in one of 12 residential colleges, where loyalties and rivalries abound. As many lucky seniors know each spring, being admitted to Yale is like receiving a magical invitation from Hogwarts itself.

Learn how to get into Yale.

Even if you’re a Harry Potter fan, it’s important to find the colleges and universities that are the best fit for you academically, socially, and financially — whether they’re like Hogwarts or not. Here at IvyWise, our college admissions counselors guide students through every phase of the college admissions process, from creating a balanced college list to submitting a competitive application that makes them stand out in the admissions process. Learn how we can help you achieve your academic goals by scheduling an Initial Consultation.

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