31 ALASKA PACIFIC UNIVERSITY
LOCAL COLOR Wedged between Cook Inlet and the Chugach Mountains in south-central Alaska, and within striking distance of Prince William Sound, Denali National Park, and the Kenai Peninsula, Anchorage (pop. 260,000) attracts everyone from fishermen and backcountry guides to oilmen and military personnel.
WORD ON THE QUAD The tiny student body of mostly outdoor types has a flair for hemp and Patagonia duds. On Friday nights, the question isn't "Where's the party?" but "Where are you headed this weekend?"
VITAL STATS CONTACT: 800-252-7528, www.alaskapacific.edu; Student body: 500 undergraduates, 200 graduates; TUITION: residents, $12,300; nonresidents, $16,200; room and board, $6,000
CAMERON O' CONNELL
32 UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA AT SAN DIEGO
La Jolla, California
LOCAL COLOR La Jolla (pop. 35,000) offers small-town ambience adjacent to San Diego's 1.2-million-resident sprawl. Medical sales reps, surf bums, and biotech geeks thrive here, drawn by La Jolla's proximity to the Pacific. Most residents surf, sail, bike, run, dive, or swim SoCal coastline.
WORD ON THE QUAD From the diamond-shaped library to the tree sculptures that recite poetry, 1,200-acre UCSD is a happy blend of surfer charm and high-tech innovation. The renowned Scripps Institute of Oceanography is housed here, and UCSD's outing club rents surfboards and organizes hiking, rock-climbing, and kayaking excursions.
VITAL STATS CONTACT: 858-534-2230, www.ucsd.edu; STUDENT BODY: 19,100 undergraduates, 3,300 graduates; TUITION: residents, $5,150; nonresidents, $12,980; room and board, $8,622
KARLA DEVRIES 33 UNIVERSITY OF ARIZONA
LOCAL COLOR On the edge of the Sonoran Desert, Tucson (pop. 490,000) is a confluence of Hispanic and Anglo culturesnot to mention rock climbers, cyclists, hikers, and mountain bikers.
WORD ON THE QUAD The 356-acre campus is flush with palm trees and students showing lots of skin. Water conservation is a hot topic for enviro studies majors; astronomy students conduct fieldwork at the Mount Graham International Observatory; and the creative-writing program is ranked one of the top five in the country. A favorite study break: hiking the 2.5-mile Sabino Canyon trail under a full moon.
VITAL STATS CONTACT: 520-621-2211, www.arizona.edu; STUDENT BODY: 28,000 undergraduates, 8,000 graduates; TUITION: residents, $3,604; nonresidents, $12,374; room and board, $6,810
34 UNIVERSITY OF WYOMING
LOCAL COLOR There's nothing trendy about Laramie, a high-plains cowboy/college town on the edge of Wyoming's Snowy Range Mountains. Good thing for the 27,000 residents that the great outdoors is close at hand: trad climbing at Vedauwoo, nordic skiing in the Medicine Bow Mountains, and singletrack riding on the trails at Happy Jack. Afterward, $4 buys you a ride on the Cowboy Saloon's mechanical bull.
WORD ON THE QUAD The state's sole university, UW offers the full range of academic fare, including first-rate programs in agriculture, education, and environment and natural resources.
VITAL STATS CONTACT: 307-766-1121, www.wyoming.edu; STUDENT BODY: 9,200 undergraduates, 1,500 graduates; TUITION: residents, $3,076; nonresidents, $8,926; room and board, $5,546
35 PRINCETON UNIVERSITY
Princeton, New Jersey
LOCAL COLOR What this preppy community of 30,000 in central New Jersey's horse country lacks in epic outdoor opportunities, it makes up for with its Gothic Ivy League charm and upscale main drag, Nassau Street. Rowers launch on Lake Carnegie, trail runners love the six-mile shoreline loop, and cyclists swear by the flat Jersey blacktop. If you're desperate for backcountry, head to the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, 70 miles north.
WORD ON THE QUAD The Princeton Environmental Institute oversees the environmental science major and coordinates campus-wide education and research.
VITAL STATS CONTACT: 609-258-3000, www.princeton.edu; STUDENT BODY: 4,600 undergraduates, 2,000 graduates; TUITION: $28,540; room and board, $8,109
31 ALASKA PACIFIC UNIVERSITY