Duke University

Durham, NC: Step onto Duke University’s campus and you will be mesmerized. At every turn there is gorgeous gothic architecture and rolling lawns. Shift your gaze upward and you can’t miss the soaring tower known as Duke Chapel, which houses breathtaking stained-glass windows.

For a cold snap, you’ll need a light jacket, but most of the year just jeans and t-shirts. Oh, and sneakers for dashing around campus, because events are constantly happening. With nearly 400 student clubs, Duke has something to pique everyone’s interest.

If it’s game day, there’s a good chance students are on their way to the football field. Some may even have their faces painted, ready to cheer on the Blue Devils. Home to NCAA Division I champion athletic teams, there is an incredible sense of spirit (bordering on fanaticism) that is impossible to miss. During the winter months roughly 500 students call the lawn outside Cameron Indoor Stadium home as they camp out in tents to get tickets for the biggest basketball games.

In addition to renowned athletic programs, Duke has distinguished art, music and theater departments and the university boasts galleries and museums. Students can attend concerts, poetry readings and open-mic nights around campus. (Recent talent includes the Roots, Bob Dylan, and Oliver Stone.) What’s more, the American Dance Festival has been held at Duke for more than 25 years.

While few students are ever bored on campus, close to 40 percent study abroad during their four years. A Duke student can choose almost any country in the world.

The campus bustles with life; at 2 a.m. students can still be seen grabbing coffee at the popular Rick’s restaurant or studying at the state-of-the-art library. After all, Duke’s prestige (ranked the fifth best college in the nation by U.S. News & World Report) does not come without academic rigor. But, at such a vibrant school, you are sure to enjoy yourself at the same time. Check out their website: duke.edu.