Outside University: 16. Alaska Pacific University

Anchorage, Alaska

Alaska Pacific University.   

If you’re willing to relocate to Anchorage, you can major in Outdoor Studies, a program whose fieldwork classes can include glaciology, snow and avalanche science, and marine biology.

Access to your subject matter won’t be difficult: APU (formerly Alaska Methodist University) is right near lakes and wilderness parks. Its rec center’s catalog lists whitewater kayaking, open boating (free), and kayak polo (also free). Students can work toward a Wilderness First Responders certification via a for-credit class.

The tundra biome shapes which sports students are good at. The Nordic ski club is a perennial powerhouse, thanks in part to the school’s ski center, which offers skill-building classes at seven levels. A student named Kikkan Randall is an Olympian who was also the first American woman to win a World Cup in cross-country skiing.

If skis aren’t your preferred mode, though, there’s also ice climbing and, right on campus, a rock wall and hiking trails. Many of the school’s trips and clinics are free or very inexpensive, including Pivot Point climbs and Copper River rafting. And the gear selection’s great—the costliest one-day rental is a canoe package that includes everything you need for $15.

Alaska Pacific is a member of the Eco League, a consortium of five small colleges dedicated to educating environmentally and operating sustainably.

Though APU’s student body is so tiny that it’s possible to know almost everyone, its campus is adjacent to the University of Alaska, Anchorage, the state’s biggest higher-ed institution, amplifying the intellectual—and physical—resources APU students can access by many degrees.

CONTACT: (800) 252-7528, alaskapacific.edu
STUDENT BODY: 519 undergraduates, 213 graduates
TUITION: $27,160, room and board $9,300

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