Outside University: Methodology

We set out to examine which schools are best suited for those of you who aren’t willing to let opportunities for adventure sail on by. For those of you who, to paraphrase Angelou, tend to grab life by the lapel and tell it that you’re with it, kid. For those of you who can only get rebooted with a shock to the system of air so fresh that it cuts to the core of you, and hauls so long that a blister ripping open signifies satisfaction well had.

Reed College.    

This process wasn’t about gut feeling. We needed to be methodical, so we developed a scoring key designed to capture all possible aspects of an institution’s ability to cater to your adrenaline-rush cravings.

Over the last couple of months, we split the country into five regions (Northwest, Southwest/California, Northeast, Southeast, and Alaska/Hawaii) and set about selecting 40 different schools that we thought might meet the 10 criteria for an Outside University, detailed below. Then we scored them to create the list you see here.

—Breadth of outdoor-adventure recreation program as determined by the number of types of activities offered.

—Affordability of the average outdoor-adventure trip/wilderness outing offered by a school's recreation center.

—Proximity of campus to state or national parks.

—Days of sunshine per year in the campus' city or town.

—Number of the school's outdoor-adventure-oriented sports clubs/teams (surfing, rock climbing, sailing, snowboarding, skiing, waterskiing, wakeboarding, rowing, cycling, and similar sports, but not including swimming or indoor or court sports) that are nationally ranked within the top 20.

—Existence and quality of summer camp/family recreation program for alumni.

—Academic courses offered that require outdoor fieldwork.

—Availability and cost of outdoor-recreation equipment available for renting or borrowing on campus.

—Number and cost of certification programs or guide schools offered on campus (SCUBA, river-rafting guide, rock-climbing instructor, etc.)

—Availability of on-campus training facilities and resources.

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