Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Colleges like Hogwarts?

The Harry Potter series has inspired a generation so it is not surprising that high school juniors and seniors think about Hogwarts as the ideal college setting. After all, many of the themes in the books relate to college or boarding school experiences including taking tough exams, making friends, finding love, breaking the rules, playing sports, fending off bullies, dealing with professor's favoritism etc.

After spring break travels to visit colleges Molly said to me. "I wish those colleges looked more like Hogwarts." Another said, "if they have a big dining hall with beams like Hogwarts, I feel happy."

So, what colleges DO look like Hogwarts? In my travels, obviously the university that looks most like Hogwarts is the one that inspired it, which is Oxford University in the UK. Glimpses of architecture that remind me of Harry Potter's school are also to be found in the US. Annenberg freshman dining hall at Harvard University is one place that seems both historical and magical. I could almost picture running into Hermione at one of the libraries at Lafayette College pictured above. "The Castle" at Arcadia University also reminds me of living in a novel. In fact students can enjoy castle living in gigantic rooms. Willard Straght Hall at Cornell University has beams in the main hall that are carved to resemble actual professors but in some cases they look more like wizards. There are also gargoyles in some of the walkways at Oberlin college that seem fanciful enough for Harry Potter fans.

Fanciful architecture is not the only rembrance of Harry Potter at U.S. colleges of course. Several colleges have established Quidditch teams (without the flying brooms and snitch of course). Some of the more established teams include Boston Univerity, Emerson College, Harvard University, Lafayette College, Middlebury College, MIT, University of Vermont, and Vassar College. I would love to see one of these Muggle Quidditch matches ... Maybe on my next college tour.

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