3 Southern US States, 3 Universities, 3 Styles

Join our adventure in the story links below. Discover how three college towns gave us three completely different experiences. Each campus showed us an array of southern charm and character, each with distinct qualities.

The pastel-colored University of South Carolina was warm and welcoming with a personalized approach. The classically inspired University of Georgia was secluded and elegant with centuries-old traditions. The stately red-brick University of Alabama was grand and expansive after an unexpected stormy adventure.

Campus visits help broaden views and determine priorities when considering a university. My family traveled for a week through South Carolina, Georgia, and Alabama in the southern United States to visit each state’s most prominent public college. The trip allowed our boys to think beyond our own West Coast school culture, compare other learning environments, and consider more options.

Throughout our family tour, I soaked in the classical southern architecture, monuments, and green spaces—contrasted by a few impressive modern structures—unique to each college town that displayed each state’s southern flare. Federal, Neoclassical, and classically-inspired styles of stately antebellum (Latin: “before (civil) war”) period architecture preserve history with their huge columns, large entrances, and wrapping porches, built to create not only a grand statement but also shade during the hot and humid summer months.

Overall, we enjoyed each university for different reasons. At the end of our trip, we all thought about what particularly stood out in our minds. We compared the general atmosphere of each school and decided, in our collective opinion, which characteristic best described each campus.

University of South Carolina

Voted: Most Intimate + Most Charming

  • Location: Columbia SC
  • Established: 1801
  • Mascot: Gamecocks
  • Student Count: 35,470
  • Campus Size: 444 acres
  • Tuition: $12,688 SC resident; $33,928 non-resident

Guided by Warm Charm at the University of South Carolina

Just a couple blocks from the South Carolina State House, we enter through one of two openings in the brick “Horseshoe Wall” that once protected the campus from burning during the Civil War. The cozy atmosphere invites us in. A brick path leads us into a tree-lined park setting where two centuries of pastel-colored history…

University of Georgia

Voted: Most Historic + Most Secluded

  • Location: Athens GA
  • Established: 1785
  • Mascot: Bulldogs
  • Student Count: 40,118
  • Campus Size: 767 acres
  • Tuition: $9,790 GA resident; $28,830 non-resident

Finding a Haven at the University of Georgia

Jubilant students on TV rushed to ring a chapel bell as Georgia beat Alabama in the college football national championship game. A few weeks later, we find ourselves standing at that same bell hanging from within a white trussed tower. A student marches eagerly up to ring the bell with vigor, a tradition first recorded…

University of Alabama

Voted: Most Impressive + Most Spacious

  • Location: Tuscaloosa AL
  • Established: 1831
  • Mascot: Crimson Tide’s Big Al (the Elephant)
  • Student Count: 38,320
  • Campus Size: 1,143 acres
  • Tuition: $10,780 AL resident; $30,250 non-resident

A Whirlwind (literally) of Grandeur in Tuscaloosa at the University of Alabama

Our first visit to the state of Alabama started out with a bang—of lightning, that is. The whipping wind in Birmingham warned us of the brewing storm. Then, upon our arrival, Tuscaloosa greeted us with a tornado warning. That morning was relatively warm. We had just driven from the University of Georgia in Athens to…

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