For all the collegiettes vying to get involved in the political world, there are tons of colleges that offer a great introduction. From their student organizations to their political history, these schools provide countless resources to start building up your knowledge of all things political. But, of course, there are a few that outbid the rest and have our vote as the best POTUS-breeders in the land. If you’re planning on calling the White House home one day, these are the places to study up!
10. WESLEYAN UNIVERSITY (Middletown, CT)
Wesleyan is a ways away from Washington, D.C., but that doesn’t mean they don’t know politics here. Students in Wesleyan’s Department of Government benefit from renowned professors and speakers—even President Obama delivered a commencement speech here.
Students at this liberal arts school are passionate about politics, and it shows in the accomplishments they make before they graduate. Kate Cullen is a recent grad who was recognized as a prominent woman in politics by MSNBC. Well, that’s a trait that will take them far—maybe even to D.C.
9. GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY (Washington, D.C.)
At Georgetown, students are encouraged to take the lead and join organizations to promote their political knowledge, and considering the wide range of political organizations activities available, that doesn’t seem too difficult. Plus, they also have a strong, nationally ranked poli sci program. It comes as no surprise that GU makes it on our list; in fact, they have an impressive résumé when it comes to politically esteemed alumni. Notable figures, like former President Bill Clinton and Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, a former president of the Philippines, are only a few of the many GU graduates who have gone on to be political headliners. Located right in the middle of the political scene, GU students are nothing short of presidents in the making.
8. UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA (Charlottesville, VA)
Known for its academic rigor and prestigious affiliation, UVA is unsurprisingly breeding some up-and-coming political prodigies. At the very least, it’s had plenty of practice, supplying various political leaders ranging from ambassadors to the former president of NASDAQ, Alfred R. Berkely III. UVA is also constantly putting politics at the forefront of its academics, with relevant classes like, “The Left & Right in Modern Democracy.”
There’s also a ton of political spirit around campus. “This current election cycle has pushed people to both extremes but it really isn't a blue or red campus and I think it makes for a lot of interesting conversations/debates and opens students’ minds to things they maybe hadn't been exposed to before,” says Sarah Dickson, a junior at UVA. Between UVA’s impressive alumni and loads of resources, students are sure to follow a path right into the Oval Office if they so desire.
7. UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN-MADISON (Madison, WI)
Politics are prevalent at UW-Madison. In fact, its graduate political science program is ranked No. 15 in the U.S. Plus, UW provides the perfect platform for getting involved in politics early—and getting ahead. UW alum, Mark Graul, a former state director in Wisconsin for George W. Bush’s reelection campaign, is a proponent of the college’s resources. He told the Daily Cardinal that “being in Madison, at the center of political activity in the state, gave [him] lots of opportunities to get involved in the political process.” At this school, politics are as popular as partying, and anyone eager to get a piece of the political world is sure to find their place.
6. COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY (New York, NY)
At this Ivy, poli sci rules, and history is in its favor. Not only did President Obama spend some time working on his undergraduate degree at Columbia, but some pretty famous presidents have also called it home, including Theodore Roosevelt and Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Add to that a few other notable political figures like Madeleine Albright, the first female secretary of state, and Shirley Chisholm, the first African American woman elected to congress and you have a pretty presidential school. Plus, their political science program has been nationally ranked as No. 4 in the country. Basically, this school has all its bases covered when it comes to grooming the next prez.
5. PRINCETON UNIVERSITY (Princeton, NJ)
Princeton has some deep political roots—so deep in fact, that it was established even before the Constitution (1746 to be exact), so you can bet that this school has learned the political ropes over the years. From amassing an impressive résumé of past scholars, including Presidents James Madison and Woodrow Wilson, to boasting a top-ranked political science graduate program, Princeton knows politics. Plus, the student body definitely follows in the footsteps of Princeton’s past politicians. “Looking back at the recent Woodrow Wilson protests from the past year, the student body not only became politically active, but also became controversial. Students were passionate about expressing themselves freely on campus…” says Anna*, a Princeton junior.
The school encourages students to gain experience outside of the classroom through internships and research, preparing them for real world politics. The political science program even introduced small dinner discussions, called the Salon, that allow politics majors to meet prominent names in politics, like Catherine Rampell, a political columnist with The Washington Post. Although Princeton is an ancient establishment, it’s constantly staying up to date with all things political.
4. PITZER COLLEGE (Claremont, CA)
You’ll find plenty of “hard lefties” talking politics at this small liberal arts school in California. There are always students ready for political conversation, whether they’re sunbathing in the pool or the classroom. In addition, there are tons of opportunities for students to go out and express their political beliefs through community service and volunteer activities like A Cleaner Tomorrow, which promotes learning about environmental activism. The student senate is also eager to enact change and recently displayed it by shutting down an attempt to create a ‘classist’ yacht club in 2015, citing that the name had a discriminatory title. These students aren’t just talking the talk; they’re walking the walk.
3. HARVARD UNIVERSITY (Cambridge, MA)
Due to its difficult course load and rank as the school with the No. 1 graduate political science program by U.S. News, Harvard is definitely one of the schools that will set you on the presidential path. In addition, the prestigious university has a large output of U.S. senators and political leaders, ranging from “#tbts” like John Hancock and John Adams, to more recent ones like George W. Bush and Barack Obama. Plus, government is the second largest concentration for undergrads, with 570 students declaring it. In fact, Gianna Cacciatore, a Harvard senior, says that one of the most popular classes last semester was ‘Road to the White House,’ which is offered once every four years during the presidential campaign season. One thing’s for sure: Harvard students are White House material.
2. STANFORD UNIVERSITY (Stanford, CA)
Stanford comes in at No. 2 on our list for its impressive alumni, faculty and plenty of extra resources for the aspiring politico. President John F. Kennedy and Mitt Romney attended the university (though they didn’t complete it), and notable politicians like President Herbert Hoover and Sandra Day O’Connor also call it their alma mater. In fact, Condoleezza Rice, former secretary of state, currently teaches at the university, which means students get to experience the advice of knowledgeable politicians firsthand.
The university also offers plenty of extracurriculars to peak a presidential hopeful’s interest. Stanford in Government is one of the organizations at the university that allows students to get experience in public policy before they even get into the political world. Rachel Samuels, Executive Chief of Staff for Stanford’s student government, Associated Students of Stanford University, tells us that this year they are focusing on tons of issues, including diversity in academics, sexual violence prevention and environmental justice. Can you say POTUS-potential?
1. GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY (Washington, D.C.)
The name of this university isn’t the only reason why it tops our list for most students headed to the White House. In addition to a difficult course load and high academic expectations, GW is located in our nation’s capitol, placing it right on the stomping ground of politicians. Shira Golub, a junior at GW, says that the location is key to getting ahead in politics. “GW is walking distance or a short Metro ride away from multiple think tanks, political organizations, and the Hill, which makes having an internship during the school year very easy and accessible!” It’s a school where students claim their left- or right-sided views and aren’t afraid to pursue political professions. In fact, BestColleges.com reports that 18 GW alums are currently serving in Congress, and many others have gone on as governors. Plus, Shira tells us that “because so many political educators live in the city, GW can offer many more, specific classes within the department that are tailored to the multitude of subjects professors have experience with.” So, if you’re serious about politics, this university is sure to provide an ample head start.
*Name has been changed