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4 Weirdest Colleges You’ve Never Heard Of

From the East Coast to the West Coast, there are hundreds of colleges and universities that we’re all familiar with. There are certainly the Ivies, big state schools, and select private institutions that we’ve received seemingly endless emails and letters about (and likely know a million people who go there), but what about the ones we may have missed? Here, HC lists four schools in the U.S. that you may have never heard of before, but now you’ll be glad you did:

1. HAMBURGER UNIVERSITY: OAK BROOK, ILLINOIS

Nope, it isn’t a myth—a McDonald’s school entirely devoted to training individuals in “restaurant operations procedures, service, quality, and cleanliness” does in fact exist. Aimed at promoting quality, service, and value, HU is a college for the basic restauranteur. It is McDonald’s’s worldwide management center, housed on a well-landscaped site of more than 80 acres near lakes, trails, and trees. Five thousand students attend each year and graduate to move on to restaurant managerial positions. 

The school’s 19 full-time professors are trained to teach not only basic restaurant and McDonald’s protocol, but also leadership skills for beyond the workplace. What kind of classes might you be enrolled in if you’re an official HU student? You can sign up for the Executive Development track, to learn high executive-level skills like sales growth and employee support. Not your style? Consider the Mid-Management learning path, where you can learn how to efficiently run a business. With a curriculum that offers other tracks like Crew Development and Shift and Systems Management, HU receives college credit recommendations from the American Council on Education.

An interesting quirk? The school is an Energy Star labeled building, meaning that it is energy efficient. They are even hoping to get approval by Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design  (LEED), which has stamped well-known buildings like the Hearst Tower in New York. Now you can go green and learn how to run a successful food business! 
 

2. OHIO COLLEGE OF CLOWN ARTS: AKRON, OHIO

Leggings, UGGs, and designer purses aren’t the trends of all trends at this school. Instead, red noses, outrageous costumes, and white face paint reign supreme! For those who wish to pursue a job in entertainment, this college offers 30 weeks of instruction and several classes to learn the way of the clown. Their curriculum is offered for students 16 and over and no prior experience is necessary unless you’re taking a higher level course. Graduates go on to work, not just at the circus, but also at fairs, festivals, store openings, birthdays, and more.

This college’s Clown 101 course is called “Clown Characterization,” where students dive into the world of clown characters through makeup, costumes, and behavior for seven weeks. Following this, students can engage in advanced classes like “Physical Clowning” where one can learn how to “walk into walls, trip, fall, hit and be hit,” as well as makeup application and juggling. Much like a senior thesis or final project, students who aim to graduate from OCCA must design a performance for a public graduation ceremony. At this school, it’s cool to clown around! 
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3. COLLEGE OF THE OZARKS: BRANSON, MISSOURI

What’s unusual about this Presbyterian liberal arts college whose tagline is “Hard Work U”? Well, its lack of formal tuition and fees, that’s what! Instead of taking out a hefty loan, its 1,400 students participate in a private work-study program to replace typical higher-education fees. This 1000-acre campus overlooks a lake and offers degrees in 34 academic areas like Agriculture, Dietetics, and Hotel/Restaurant Management, as well as a variety of other pre-professional tracks.

The unique work program requires students to dedicate 15 hours a week to working in a computer center, museum, clinic, or other area on campus. To supplement this, students also work two 40 hour weeks each year when classes are not in session. To supplement the workplace experience, a curriculum founded on character virtues like prudence and courage is encouraged. These courses include “Biblical Ideals of Character,” “American Ideals of Character,” and “Medieval/Renaissance Ideals of Character.”

According to an alumna’s review, “C of O is not for everyone, but if you have a good work ethic and appreciate the gift of a debt free education it is an outstanding springboard to success.” C of O is listed by U.S. News & World Report Best Colleges Guide 2010 for #1 Least Debt, Lowest Acceptance Rate, and Great School for Great Price.

4. DEEP SPRINGS COLLEGEDYER, CALIFORNIA

You roll out of bed at 8:30 a.m. to the sound of your piercing alarm, pull on your comfiest sweatpants, and dash to the academic side of campus just in time for your 9 a.m. lecture. Sound familiar? Well, imagine swapping that routine for a before sunrise wake-up call to milk cows, prepare meals, deliver baby calves, and finish any coursework for the day before all on your campus: A desert the size of Manhattan.


For the all-male 26-student body at Deep Springs College, this is what a typical day consists of. Located on a cattle-ranch and alfalfa farm in California’s High Desert, the men of this school engage in a different college lifestyle in order to “prepare themselves for lives of service to humanity.” Their college runs on the idea that manual labor and political deliberation are essential to a liberal arts education. Along with classes, students engage in manual labor to help run the ranch. A student is assigned a new task every seven weeks for at least twenty hours a week that could include fixing leaks in irrigation lines, repairing fences, or digging up frozen pipes to be repaired.

Milking the cows doesn’t sound like too daunting of a task when each student at DSC receives a full scholarship at $50,000 a year. Though the school only offers one degree in the liberal arts, students typically transfer to well-known institutions like Brown, Yale, and Harvard University. One alumni’s glowing review said, “I came to Deep Springs because I knew that every other college would allow me to graduate as the same person I entered and only reaffirm my adolescent views. Deep Springs forced me to find some meaning greater than a diploma in my education and some meaning greater than myself in my life.”

And there you have it, HC-ers! Four colleges that you may have missed back when you were scouring through collegeboard.org back in high school. Would you ever go to one of these schools? Do you know anyone who does?  Let us know what you think about these schools in the comments section below!

Sources:

http://www.cofo.edu/about.asp

http://www.cofo.edu/workprog.asp

http://www.aboutmcdonalds.com/mcd/careers/hamburger_university.html

http://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?fuseaction=labeled_buildings.showProfile&profile_id=1009347

http://www.ohiocollegeclowningarts.com/about.html

http://www.studentsreview.com/MO/CtO_comments.html?type=positive 
 

Gennifer is the Branded Content Specialist for Her Campus Media. In her role, she manages all sponsored content across platforms including editorial, social, and newsletters. As one of HC's first-ever writers, she previously wrote about career, college life, and more as a national writer during her time at Hofstra University. She also helped launch the How She Got There section, where she interviewed inspiring women in various industries. She lives in New York City.
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