The first book in the Harry Potter series–Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone–was released in the United States in 1998. (Yes, it was that long ago.) Over the next 11 years, the millions of children who first read the book back in the 20th century would all grow up and go to college. And one common action all of these kids took was to evaluate how much the university they attend is like Hogwarts. Well here to finally settle the dispute of which American universities would be most likely to have a chamber of secrets is college admissions counselor Katherine Cohen. Ms. Cohen has toured many colleges over the years and has compiled a list of the five best suited for wizardry. Unsurprisingly, some Ivy League universities made the list. Perhaps surprisingly, only two Ivies made the list.
Cornell University, Ithaca, NY
Located on 745 acres overlooking Cayuga Lake in upstate New York, this research university is fairly removed from the hustle and bustle of Manhattan (as Hogwarts is from London). Cornell’s West Campus residential community, appropriately called “The Gothics,” along with the War Memorial, Risley Residential College, and the Law Library, are gothic masterpieces. There’s big school spirit here, too. Ice hockey, lacrosse and football games bring out huge crowds. Like competitors in the Triwizard Challenge, Cornellians wear their red scarves when they compete against their Ivy League rivals.
Yale University, New Haven, CT
As the third-oldest college in America, this might be as close to Hogwarts as one can get. The campus is full of towers, courtyards, arches and balconies, and boasts some of the country’s most breathtaking gothic architecture. Like Hogwarts, the Yale campus conceals many nooks and crannies. For example, under Sterling Library there’s a tunnel that leads to another library, part of Yale’s large underground network of unseen passageways, some of which remain locked or forgotten. Yale’s secret societies (such as Skull and Bones which has been made famous by Hollywood) may remind Rowling fans of Dumbledore’s Army. A defining feature of this Ivy League institution is its twelve residential colleges. Like the infamous sorting hat, the administration places incoming students in one of twelve residential colleges, where loyalties and rivalries abound.
Ms. Cohen lists “physical appearance, residential community, academic rigor, extracurricular opportunities, and unique traditions” as her criteria for wizarding universities. Oddly, having actual Hogwarts wizards as students is not included. While Ms. Cohen does appear to have all her facts in order (Cornell’s Risley Hall is known for its annual Harry Potter night), she should apologize to Dumbledore’s Army for comparing them to Skull and Bones.
For Cornell and Yale, being named to this short list of Hogwarts-esque schools is nothing more than an amusement. It’s in no way something for one of them to publicize, especially not on the front page of their website. Right?
Okay, Yale wouldn’t publicize it. Cornell, you’re embarrassing us all again.