Fun Facts about Colleges in America!

Clemson stadium with thousands of people cheering for a football game.

Flickr user Sagar Puro

I’m the type of person that loves to learn new things, and when it comes to weird facts, you can consider me obsessed.

Here are some fun facts about colleges, colleges histories, and college graduates in the United States you probably didn’t know:

Fun Facts About Colleges!

  • The name “Alumni” comes from the Latin “Alumnus” which means “foster son.” Source.
  • “Alma mater” comes from the Latin meaning “nurturing mother.” Source.
  • The first college to graduate women was Oberlin College. Mary Caroline Rudd, Mary Hosford, and Elizabeth Prall graduated with AB degrees in 1841. Source.
  • Oberlin College was also the first to graduate an African-American woman in 1862—her name was Mary Jane Patterson. Source.
  • The first football game, between two different colleges, happened in November of 1869. It was Princeton vs. Rutgers. (Rutgers won, 6-4). Source.
  • There are 60 all-female colleges in the country, but only 4 all-male. Source / source.
  • Yale’s most prestigious senior society is the Skull and Bones. Former presidents George H.W. Bush, his son George W. Bush, and William Howard Taft were members. Source.
  • The word “college” comes from the Latin “collegium” which means community or society. Source.
  • Nearly 5,000 colleges and universities exist in the country. Together they grant more than 2 million degrees per year. Source.
  • Columbia University used to be known as the King’s College. Source.
  • Initially, Brown University was called Rhode Island College. Source.
  • Curtis Institute of Music (2.9%), Stanford (5%), Harvard (5%) Yale (7%), and Columbia (7%) are the colleges with lowest acceptance rates in the U.S. Source.
  • The Ivy League is formed by 8 colleges: Brown University, Columbia University, Cornell University, Dartmouth College, Harvard University, the University of Pennsylvania, Princeton University, and Yale University. Source.
  • Nearly 60% of all college students are female. Source.
  • Dave MacPherson, a Long Beach State University student, was the first person to enter Disneyland. He didn’t ride a single attraction, however. He needed to get back to class. Source.
  • 14 of the 25 largest sports stadiums in the world belong to American college football teams. Source.
  • The Kalamazoo Promise is a foundation of anonymous donors that pay for the college education of students who graduate high school in Kalamazoo, MI. Source.
  • Harvard has the largest academic library in the world, with 15.8 million volumes. Source.
  • The first Greek student society was Phi Beta Kappa, founded by John Heath at the College of William and Mary in 1776. Source.
  • The first Greek sorority, now known as Alpha Delta Pi, was founded in 1851 at Wesleyan Female College. Source.
  • The University of Michigan—Ann Arbor has a Squirrel Club with over 400 members. Source.
  • There have been many celebrity commencement speakers over the years, one of the most interesting, however, was Kermit the Frog—he spoke at Southampton College in 1996. Source.

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