The beach or the mountains? Whatever your campus personality is, the Carolinas have it

Heidi Finley

Photo by Coastal Carolina University

The Carolinas are blessed with majestic mountains and soul-soothing coastlines – and both of those beautiful settings increase the options for students who want to pick a college that will work with their lifestyle.

After all, it’s somewhere they will live for at least four years.

Here’s 6 schools to think about for students who put outdoor leisure high on their “must haves” list.

If the beach is your thing, consider:

UNC Wilmington

Wilmington, N.C.

The rising sun illuminates the UNCW Crest Campus dock that jets into the Intracoastal Waterway in Wilmington, N.C. Photo by Jeff Kanowski, UNC Wilmington

UNC Wilmington student Megan Hinson recently said, “For the longest time, we had a stereotype of being a beach school, and no one really gave a nod toward our education. Now we have become even more rigorous, and our new students coming in every year have more and more impressive backgrounds. But UNCW also goes beyond this and looks to get students who are well-rounded, which makes for such a varied and diverse group enrolling each year, with interests and backgrounds from all over the country.”


Coastal Carolina University

Conway, S.C.

Waties Island is part of an 1,105-acre tract of barrier island and adjoining lands near North Myrtle Beach that was donated to CCU in the 1990s. Classes, laboratories and independent research projects are conducted on the property. Photo by Coastal Carolina University
Michael Roberts, dean of CCU’s College of Science said, “With a large and dynamic marine science program, the nearby ocean provides Coastal Carolina University students with an extensive natural laboratory for engaged learning – not to mention ample recreational opportunities.


College of Charleston

Charleston, S.C.

Harbor Walk is home to the College’s Department of Computer Science. Photo by the College of Charleston

Student Lily Fredrick said, “Students like the fact that the college is in the middle of a city, which is the best of both worlds. If you want to leave your school campus, just walk ten minutes and you’ll be in the heart of a city. If you want to get that college campus experience, just walk on the red bricks. We’re so close to the beach, too, which provides even more things to do.”


If you love the mountains, check out:

Western Carolina University

Cullowhee, N.C.

Western Carolina University’s Noble Hall. Photo by WCU

Graduate Elizabeth Boney said while she was president of the Chancellor’s Ambassadors at WCU that, “Campus is pretty amazing. Basically everywhere you go, you see this beautiful mountain view any time of the day.”


UNC Asheville

Asheville, N.C.

Photo by UNC Asheville

Graduate Megan Suggs said while she was at UNC Asheville that every semester before exams, there’s an 8 p.m. exam meal that includes karaoke. The faculty and staff serve food and bus tables. “It’s a great way to relax and laugh with friends before buckling down to study and write essays,” she said.


Warren Wilson College

Asheville, N.C.

Photo courtesy of Warren Wilson College

One student wrote on, “Wilson is an amazing college. It’s on a beautiful campus, the academics can be quite rigorous, and the social atmosphere is lovely. I came here because this is a place where you can work one-on-one with the head of a department and get your work published as a sophomore.”


Finley is the editor of Carolina College Bound. Send questions to