At these schools, the students have an affinity for hole-in-the-wall coffee shops, raggedy sweaters, ironic mustaches, and TOMS. That band you’ve never heard of? These students have all of their music (on vinyl, of course). These 10 schools harbor the most intense hipster vibes on their campuses (we’re talking bearded students sitting near the art department listening to indie rock—trust us, you’ve never heard of that band, either).
10. UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS AT AUSTIN (Austin, Texas)
Austin has the unofficial motto of "Keep Austin Weird," a saying that is meant to ward off big corporations and welcome neighborly businesses. Forbes named East Austin the fourth most hipster neighborhood in the U.S., probably for its excellent selection of Mexican food and music venues. A strong supporter of going local, Austin is the perfect place for students at UT Austin to buy exotic snacks from food trucks, questionably fashionable jewelry from vintage shops, and unquestionably tacky threads from thrift stores. The university itself has a strong fine arts graduate program, according to U.S. News & World Report. In the most impressive thrifty find in UT Austin’s history, a Longhorn Band member bought a 10-foot bass drum for $1 in 1955 to bolster school spirit. The drum, named Big Bertha, is still used today during home football games (it requires a crew of five bandies to wheel the vintage instrument to the sidelines).
9. UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, BERKELEY (Berkeley, California)
Berkeley students can indulge the environmentalist in them at the local Beehive Market, which the founders say celebrates "all things cool about being a green localist." On campus, Berkeley has an impressive fine arts program (#36 in the nation, according to U.S. News & World Report) and one of the best student-run radio stations in the nation (it was a top 10 finalist for the mtvU College Radio Woodie Awards this year). The school also has clubs like Art of Living (where students and faculty practice stress-relief exercises), Berkeley Organization for Animal Advocacy (its main priority is animal liberation!), and Bike It, You’ll Like It (need we say more?). The school also made The Huffington Post’s roster of hipster colleges in 2010 and 2012, with special thanks going to Berkeley’s Fourth Street, an indulgent avenue near campus for every non-traditional hipster need (handmade aguas frescas, anyone?). Along with local eateries, Fourth Street is lined with plenty of shops (so even if the hipsters don’t feel like spending money that day, they can still window-scoff).
8. DREXEL UNIVERSITY (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)
When the founder of Urban Outfitters is on your Board of Trustees, you know your school has hipster cred. Last year, the hipster apparel tycoon Richard Hayne donated $200 million to Drexel’s Baiada Center for Entrepreneurship (which means students are technically “giving back to the community” when they shop at Urban!). “Urban Outfitters HQ holds our yearly senior fashion show, and there is a store located right off campus,” says Regina*, a student at Drexel. “With such strong ties to UO, devotees of the brand flock to Drexel!” So don’t be surprised if you see hipsters all over Drexel’s campus—with support from tycoons like Hayne, we’re surprised Urban Outfitters doesn’t sponsor school uniforms! It’s the perfect opportunity to wear plaid skirts and oversized frames.
7. COLORADO COLLEGE (Colorado Springs, Colorado)
Forget about looking for the organic labels at Whole Foods—students at Colorado College grow their own produce! The school has a student-run farming program and 1.3 acres of land to grow fresh ingredients for the dining halls and local farmer’s markets. Plus, the dirt stains from gardening that they likely get on their clothing totally add to the hipster look. The college, which made The Huffington Post’s list of Most Hipster Colleges in 2012, also offers clubs like the Flash Photography Club and Art in the Afternoon, a program where students lead elementary school art classes to foster “creativity and high self-esteem.” Basically, they are training the next generation of artsy hipsters. Way to pass on the torch, Colorado College! This school also gets an A+ in nonconformity because it has a strong liberal culture in a predominantly conservative city (we wouldn’t be surprised if that was the very reason the nonconformist school adopted a liberal stance in the first place…).
6. RHODE ISLAND SCHOOL OF DESIGN (Providence, Rhode Island)
RISD was awarded with the prestigious title of best design school in the world by Business Insider. With a campus full of creatively gifted students, wasn’t hipster fashion inevitable? When the world's artsiest college kids aren’t hitting up the thrift stores, they show off their schoolwork at events like the MFA Furniture Show, where students re-envisioned and redesigned regular furniture to find a deeper meaning—very philosophical, and totally hipster. If the sheer concentration of art appreciation at this school doesn’t have you convinced, RISD is located in the sixth best town for hipsters in the U.S., according to Travel + Leisure. RISD students make up a good percentage of designers who can rock tribal print and recreate the pattern in Photoshop.
5. KENYON COLLEGE (Gambier, Ohio)
Kenyon College knows how to max out their “hipster credit” card. The college has a student-run art gallery and five student-made literary and journalistic publications (pretty impressive, considering their student body is made up of about 1,600 people!). Writing is the sport of choice here (Kenyon College is one of the top five schools to find your poetic inspiration, according to ApplyWise), though Kenyon challenges hipster stereotypes with its prominent Greek culture (doing non-hipster things is hipster too, right?). Students also spend their time at the Kenyon Craft Center, where they can take up knitting or woodwork—because the only thing better than thrift is homemade. One Kenyon student, Donna*, sums up the hipster culture on campus quite concisely: “Flannels everywhere. Boys in skinny jeans and cardigans. A lot of English majors.” Gotta love/hate those English majors.
4. BROWN UNIVERSITY (Providence, Rhode Island)
As one of the few schools in the nation with no core class requirements, Brown University breeds true freethinkers. The only things higher than these students’ high-waisted shorts are their GPAs. Clara Beyer, a Her Campus summer intern and a senior at Brown, says, “The phrase ‘that's so heteronormative’ is a campus-wide inside joke… Everything we do is ironic. We get drunk ironically. We party ironically. Bro tanks are a huge phenomenon over Spring Weekend, but I think it's only because we like to be ironic about it.” Speaking of Spring Weekend, it’s a celebration on campus when the school hosts musical artists, such as Ben Folds and The Shins—also pretty hipster.
Brown students are self-aware, but that doesn’t stop them from indulging in their hipster ways. “PBR is literally too mainstream for most people; we prefer Narragansett,” Clara says. With so many happy-go-lucky students who don’t take themselves too seriously, ironic romances are bound to happen. Clara says one of her friends even met her boyfriend at a thrift store (sounds like the plot to a low-key indie film!).
3. OKLAHOMA STATE UNIVERSITY (Stillwater, Oklahoma)
In the unlikely state of Oklahoma blooms a hipster culture that would make Ben Gibbard proud. According to Liz Dewell, a senior at OSU, “Mustache November is no longer just a November thing... it is all year round. You can check it out on everyone's Instagram.” Because if it’s not on Insta, did it ever happen? Liz says it’s a real struggle to grab a coffee between classes because “students have packed out all three Aspen Coffee Co.'s and The Coffee House just to hit the books.”
Though the anatomy of an Oklahoma hipster is similar to hipsters on the coast, OSU gets bonus points for working the local culture in favor of their obscure fashion. “We may be from Oklahoma, but that doesn't mean we don't know how to make cowboy hats and boots hipster,” Liz says.
2. PORTLAND STATE UNIVERSITY (Portland, Oregon)
Named the #2 Best City for Hipsters by Travel + Leisure, Portland is home to many American Apparel-clad people, specifically the students at Portland State University. The campus is only a 10-minute drive away from the Pearl District, one of America’s Best Hipster Neighborhoods, according to Forbes. PSU students will never be without a non-fat soy latte in this area, because the Pearl District has the second most coffee shops per capita of the neighborhoods on Forbes’s hipster haven list. And if students from the #5 Most Hipster College (according to The Huffington Post in 2011) ever get the munchies, they can check out the hipster’s burrito guide published in their school newspaper. We think every school newspaper should look into a comprehensive Mexican food guide.
1. NEW YORK UNIVERSITY (New York City, New York)
NYU managed to out-hipster every college in the nation in 2011, according to College Magazine. Since almost all colleges in NYC are some degree of Hipster U, NYU students should be proud to rep The Big Apple—given it’s organic, of course. “Hipsters aren't really a subset or a clique at NYU; it's pretty much a given that if you go to NYU, you are one!” says Hannah Orenstein, a junior at NYU. “Your typical NYU student turns up her nose at the three Urban Outfitters on campus in favor of real vintage, is obsessed with juicing, and loves to go to concerts for obscure bands you haven't heard of.” Carmen*, a student at NYU, says she knows multiple people who would rather collect records than download music (because what self-respecting hipster doesn’t have record player—or better yet, a phonograph?).
NYU’s location is also a playground for the ultimate hipster experience. Carmen says there is an abundance of thrift shops near the school in Soho and Greenwich Village (we bet students browse for hours to really perfect “homeless couture”). If you want to take a date to an artsy, subtitled movie after your 100 percent vegan dinner, Carmen says theaters that play indie films are everywhere. Don’t have a date? “You can always find artistic students showing off their talent in Washington Square Park (playing the sax, dancing, singing, chalk painting, etc.),” she says. Fine art skills are basically a hipster’s mating call.
*Names have been changed.