The 6 Wildest College Semesters Slideshow

The 6 Wildest College Semesters Slideshow

Location: Durango, CO
When: Fall semester
Taking place partly on campus, partly in the woods, this outdoor semester is perfect for conflicted students who want to be immersed in nature, but aren’t quite ready to shun modern amenities or their normal college life and friends. Classes on topics like adventure leadership and wilderness expeditions are punctuated by 4- to 10-day outings into the forests, deserts and mountains of the Four Corners. Whether whitewater canoeing the San Juan River or backpacking in Colorado's famously rugged Weminuche Wilderness, students test what they’ve learned on campus in a real-life, larger-than-life laboratory.

Locations: Australia, Bhutan, Costa Rica, Kenya, New Zealand, Panama, Tanzania and Turks and Caicos
When: Fall, Spring and Summer semesters
Students explore, research and live in remote ecosystems where they can experience the kinds of adventures usually reserved for bucket lists—witness the massive wildebeest migration in East Africa, trek across the wild landscape of Bhutan, or SCUBA diving among the reefs of Turks & Caicos. The semesters, which are registered and credited through Boston University and dozens of affiliate institutions, are a great fit for students looking for truly wild adventures while still enjoying posh amenities like beds, hot water and WiFi.

Location: Adirondack Mountains, Childwold, NY
When: Fall semester
During this off-the-grid semester, students live in a cluster of yurts at the edge of a lake in the heart of the Adirondacks. The wooded campus, nicknamed Arcadia, has only intermittent solar-powered electricity, forcing today’s Internet-addicted students to trade their smartphones, Twitter, Facebook and email accounts for pen and paper. They also give up showers for a dip in the lake and flushing toilets for a composting one (affectionately named “Clive”). Classes range from ecology of the Adirondacks to woodworking. The semester ends with an internship aimed at helping students transition back into modern society.

Location: Woods Hole, MA and the open ocean
When: Fall, Spring and Summer semesters
After a brief stint onshore, students live and work aboard a 134-foot brigantine sailboat, navigating the Caribbean, French Polynesia or the Equatorial Pacific, or just cruising the open ocean. Students trade lab benches for at-sea field work, futons for off-prow netting and monotonous gym time for heave-hoing sails on the high seas. Just don’t forget your seasickness patch.


Location: Pacific Northwest
When: Spring Semester
Students ditch their East Coast campus for the wilderness of the West in this semester that reads more like an adventure travel catalog. The semester starts with a multi-week kayaking trip in the San Juan Islands off the coast of Washington and British Columbia. Next, they pack up their gear and head inland, backpacking in the alpine zone of the North Cascades Range (pictured), rock climbing in Central Washington and rafting on the Lower Salmon River in Idaho. Part of the fun of going out in the spring is dealing with wild weather conditions while away from civilization, like avalanche threats.
Check out this documentary of a typical semester.

Locations: North America—Alaska, Pacific Northwest, Rockies, Southwest and the Yukon;  Overseas—Australia, Amazon, Baja, East Africa, India, New Zealand and Patagonia
When: Fall, Spring or Summer semesters
Roughly 800 students from colleges across the country participate in NOLS’s domestic and international semesters. The time is split up into a series of one-week or month-long expeditions where students engage in activities like mountaineering, kayaking, climbing, sailing, canyoneering, fly fishing, skiing and backpacking. Basically, imagine the kick-butt adventure camp you always dreamed of going to as a kid, except this time you get college credit for it.