By Gabrielle Kratsas
There are campus visits and virtual tours of some of the most beautiful colleges in the nation, but have you considered checking out the aerial college tours via drone videos on YouTube? As these flying gadgets continue to advance, more and more universities are producing and publishing campus tours like we’ve never seen before.
From high up above, these drones have captured stunning clips of colleges around the country, showing off their picturesque natural surroundings, striking architecture and most eye-catching features from an overhead view, allowing us to get a better idea of where and how these campuses are laid out. Each aerial campus tour video on this list has unique editing, production details and types of drones used to create the finished product we’re watching now.
To create and rank this list, our editorial staff reviewed of over 50 examples that are popular on YouTube, featured on outside sources’ lists of the most beautiful campuses and have unique attributes or editing. We sourced information from the National Center for Education Statistics’ College Navigator Database, U.S. News & World Report, Wikipedia, the individual schools’ websites and other college resource websites listed at the end of this article. The producers and production details are included in each campus’ description when the information was available.
30. Loras College in Dubuque, IA
Net Cost: $19,234
Forever Ready Productions, LLC used a drone in April 2016 to produce a cute wedding/aerial campus tour video at Loras College’s campus, starting high on the horizon and moving throughout the campus at different heights, angles and speeds. While this video might have been more about the married couple and their wedding party, Forever Ready did a wonderful job with capturing the striking beauty of Keane Hall and other eye-catching campus characteristics.
29. College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, VA
Net Cost: $14,310
YouTuber D Graham uploaded his drone tour of the College of William & Mary in September 2015. It starts off in front of him and another operator and takes off high above campus for quite a stunning view of the quad and its surrounding buildings. He captured some great clips above an ultimate frisbee practice from bird’s eye, as well as some footage of the drone coasting closer above campus, but the most detail viewers see is when the drone returns back to the operators. This campus is repeatedly featured on numerous lists of rankings of the most beautiful colleges in the U.S.
28. Sonoma State University in Rohnert Park, CA
Net Cost: $15,585
The Sonoma State American Language Institute (SSALI) posted its campus tour video of Sonoma State University on YouTube in September 2014, which shows off well-planned creative shots, such as a crane dramatically flying from a building away from the drone. The slow moving aerial clips move in close enough for viewers to catch some details of the campus’ features. The producers also made sure to capture the school both as the sun is setting and during a clear, bright day.
27. Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, NY
Net Cost: $21,265
Drone Vids YouTube channel posted a DJI Phantom 3 flight over the second school from Poughkeepsie on our list, Vassar College in July 2016. Ranked as one of the most beautiful college campuses by GVC, College Rank and other sources, this school’s impressive architecture is on display throughout the video via creative approaches by the drone. The footage includes a variety of aerial shots of the full campus, a pretty red brick courtyard and some nice natural features.
26. Haverford College in Haverford, PA
Net Cost: $21,056
In November 2014, Haverford College published its campus tour video, which was made by the local Motto Films. Viewers get a great look into the lush green lawns and burnt orange and red leaves that are throughout campus during the fall. The drone coasts through campus as a student would walk to class and soars high above for a variety of angled aerial shots and rotating clips that really show off Haverford’s beauty.
25. University of Dayton in Dayton, OH
Net Cost: $31,252
International business management and finance major Andrew Wong posted his aerial tour of the University of Dayton in August 2016, offering viewers great footage of the impressive athletic field, various areas around campus shot from both above and at lower heights and the traditional red brick, white trimmed buildings. Some clips are still and others have some jerky movements, but Wong did a great job with presenting his campus well within two minutes and editing the video’s transitions, intro and ending.
24. Marietta College in Marietta, OH
Net Cost: $23,539
The Office of Strategic Communications & Marketing at Marietta College posted its drone video on YouTube in August 2015, which moves through campus much slower than the other aerial tours on this list. The producers did a great job with showing off the campus’ assets like Erwin Hall and its clock tower, the legacy library and its impressive dome, the baseball field and a beautiful overhead shot of the full college.
23. Eastern University in St. Davids, PA
Net Cost: $24,583
Brandon Hodnett used a DJI Phantom 3 Professional Quadcopter and 4K quality in late October 2015 to produce his Autumn Drone Video of Eastern University’s campus, which consistently ranks among Christian Universities Online’s top beautiful college campuses. Hodnett captures this season on campus wonderfully, including leaves rustling across where the drone enters and distanced aerial footage of red-roofed buildings contrasted against the green, red and orange foliage.
22. Pepperdine University in Malibu, CA
Net Cost: $33,721
Pepperdine University has made it among the top 10 most beautiful colleges by more than five sources, including a No. 2 spot on The Princeton Review. The university posted its aerial tour in May 2012, which consists of some awesome introductory shots of the drone heading toward campus over the beach, a brief clip close enough to campus to see students walking around and plenty of high-up overhead views of this oceanfront campus
21. Wellesley College in Wellesley, MA
Net Cost: $22,138
The longest aerial tour on our list, Daily Drone FPV posted its full flight YouTube video of Wellesley College in November 2015 after using a DJI Inspire 1 Drone to scale the circumference of campus at a fairly high distance while including the Wellesley Hills and Boston Skyline in the backdrop. The Princeton Review, The Best Colleges and other sources included Wellesley on their lists of most beautiful college campuses. For those viewers looking for a long, peaceful video of some perfect fall foliage, look no further.
20. Salve Regina University in Newport, RI
Net Cost: $28,867
In November 2014, CliffWalk.com posted its short aerial video of Salve Regina University’s pristinely groomed campus with its medieval French architecture (Ochre Court), Elizabethan manor house (Wakehurst) and ideal waterfront location. Being the shortest video on this list, the producer did a fine job with covering the beauty of this campus from multiple points of view along and beyond the coastline. This campus has made it onto a couple rankings, including among the most beautiful coastal colleges by Best Value Schools.
19. Grove City College in Grove City, PA
Net Cost: $19,824
Christian Universities Online recently ranked Grove City College as one of the most beautiful campuses in the North. The college posted its rough-cut aerial tour footage in October 2013, shot by Helios Aerial, which offers a multitude of appropriate-length aesthetic views of the Rockwell Hall of Science, the suitably named Rainbow Bridge, the stunning Harbison Chapel and more. The sun was setting beautifully behind all of the featured buildings as the drone glided over the quad and captured a unique 360 rotating shot.
18. Endicott College in Beverly, MA
Net Cost: $33,171
One of the longer drone videos on YouTube, alumnus Rob Ackerman (’20) produced and edited Endicott College’s aerial campus tour video using the DJI Phantom 4, which went live January 2017. Ackerman’s video takes just four minutes to present the campus and its beautiful surroundings through sunset clips, footage gliding over the water, day, evening and night-time aerial views, a bird’s eye of a lighted soccer game and a creatively-edited ending.
17. Wheaton College in Wheaton, IL
Net Cost: $27,792
Young YouTuber Chris GoPro published his “Wheaton by Drone” in January 2016, exhibiting Wheaton College’s campus in the winter by creatively taking off from the “W” in the center of the football field and focusing on pretty details like the massive wreath on castle-like Blanchard Hall. Shot with the DJI Phantom 2 with GoPro Hero 3 BE and edited on FCPX, the video does a great job with transitioning from one view above campus to another rotating shot around the bell tower and so on, including clips of what the campus looks like with and without snow-covered grounds. A few sources like Best College Values have acclaimed this campus for its beauty.
16. Flagler College in St. Augustine, FL
Net Cost: $21,804
Veteran journalist Tracey Eaton posted his YouTube video of Flagler College in April 2017 after Travel + Leisure, among many other sources, named it the state’s most beautiful campus, mainly because of the phenomenal architecture that once was the Spanish Renaissance’s Ponce de León Hotel. Eaton’s video sufficiently shows off this small college in less than one minute without getting too close to the buildings, offering viewers an eye-catching bird’s eye tour of what this gorgeous campus has to offer.
15. Thomas Aquinas College in Santa Paula, CA
Net Cost: $19,736
Alumnus Paul Lazenby (’10) created this video, posted on Thomas Aquinas College’s YouTube channel in September 2016, of its campus in the Santa Paula Canyon using a drone. Recognized for its beauty by The Princeton Review in the past, the college’s green quad and impressive oak tree contrasts against the orange-roofed white stucco buildings that shine in the sunlight. Lazenby’s drone takes viewers beyond campus through the surrounding forest to highlight other features like prayer sites and a stone courtyard.
14. Marist College in Poughkeepsie, NY
Net Cost: $35,586
Marist College’s “Flyover Virtual Tour” used a drone to show off this riverfront campus on a wonderfully sunny day and on a clear football game night. LendEDU’s 25th most beautiful campus in New York, Marist’s YouTube video displays its well-groomed quad, striking stone Hancock Center and what it’s like as student walking between classes.
13. Covenant College in Lookout Mountain, GA
Net Cost: $25,141
Covenant College published its “Mountain Views” video in October 2016, which does an incredible job of selling the campus’ location on top of Lookout Mountain. Any outdoor enthusiast would have difficulty passing up this college after watching just 30 seconds; the drone quickly soars above campus and features scenic points like Carter Hall, a nearby spring and the mountain during sunset. Christian Universities Online, Outstanding Colleges and other sites have dubbed Covenant a truly beautiful campus.
12. Occidental College in Los Angeles, CA
Net Cost: $31,645
In April 2017, Occidental College published its “Scenes of Occidental” aerial tour that moves from distanced shots to up-close clips as the drone glides over campus sidewalks and the iconic Thorne Hall. The drone’s footage fades nicely from one shot to the other and includes great views of the Greek Bowl, solar array and the sculpture fountain on the quad. The ending sunset footage of the drone flying away from campus is incredibly serene. It’s no surprise that many sources like The Best Colleges named Occidental as one of the most beautiful schools.
11. Sewanee: The University of the South in Sewanee, TN
Net Cost: $29,239
Photographer and videographer Seth Teeters published his minute-long aerial tour of Sewanee: The University of the South in July 2016. This college is consistently ranked among the most beautiful campuses in the US by sources like Great Value Colleges, Travel + Leisure and The Princeton Review; the video does a wonderful job with capturing the scenic surroundings, the striking Gothic buildings and an artful ending as the drone flies away from campus.
10. Tuskegee University in Tuskegee, AL
Net Cost: $28,497
In March 2017, Stefan Smith of Visionary Art Photography posted his drone footage of Tuskegee University, revealing stunning overhead shots of the campus’ neat red-roofed and red brick, white columned buildings, as well as picturesque rotating clips near and far that offer the best views of campus. While some of these shots lingered more than necessary, this video is unique in that the background music is the school’s band playing, and the tour ends with a skillfully-done student-run mannequin challenge in the football stadium stands.
9. College of DuPage in Glen Ellyn, IL
Net Cost: $7,333
The cheapest school on this list, College of DuPage’s Media Services published its campus tour from the air in October 2014, which is incredibly colorful and eye-pleasing with clips of fountains, flowers, sculptures and impressive buildings like the Harold D. McAninch Arts Center and the Homeland Security Training Center. This video offers unique campus coverage like the bird’s eye view shot of the amphitheater and footage of a student walking down the hall recorded through a building’s windows.
8. Fordham University in Bronx, NY
Net Cost: $35,912
This school may be situated in the Bronx, but Fordham University’s aerial tour via drone reveals how much lush greenery surrounds the Rose Hill Campus, which is next to a zoo, botanical garden, park and forest. In less than one minute, the university’s YouTube video covers stunning campus buildings both from far above, up close and from a student’s level. Published in April 2016, this video scored extra points for sufficiently broadcasting both campuses in New York via time-lapses and close-ups of the lovely grey stone buildings.
7. Willamette University in Salem, OR
Net Cost: $32,031
Drone Age Media published its campus drone footage on Youtube of Willamette University in October 2015, which spends over four minutes exhibiting the stunning contrast of the Oregon State Capitol against the tall evergreen trees and red brick buildings on campus. This aerial tour shows us how Willamette’s buildings are intimately collected around the quad, parking is ample and white trimmed, grey roofed brick buildings give this campus a traditionally beautiful look.
6. Swarthmore College in Swarthmore, PA
Net Cost: $21,580
Brandon Hodnett published his artful drone footage of Swarthmore College in November 2015, which has ranked as one of the prettiest campuses on lists from Deseret News, Forbes and more. Using a DJI Phantom 3 Professional quadcopter and 4K resolution, Hodnett created an eye-pleasing video that follows the fall leaf-littered pathways around campus, catching great shots of the buildings at various approaches and angles. The video was taken during the day, at sunset and into the night, when the drone coasts along a well-lit sidewalk.
5. Rollins College in Winter Park, FL
Net Cost: $33,191
Dubbed the nation’s most beautiful campus by The Princeton Review, among other sources, Rollins College has striking architecture, dark red brick courtyards, well-kept greenery, geometrically patterned sidewalks and a beautiful surrounding environment. Youtuber Phantom Phlyer used the Phantom 3 Professional to take viewers on this wonderful aerial tour of Rollins’ campus without staying too close to the ground. He included peaceful shots of a boat on the water, a variety of overhead views and artful clips of building details.
4. College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, MA
Net Cost: $24,728
College of the Holy Cross offers a look at why the school has been consistently ranked as one of the most beautiful college campuses. Autumn on Mount St. James offers spectacular leaf color changes, busy campus sidewalks, football games, and other athletics on the campus’ well-groomed fields. The unnamed producer of this aerial footage did a fabulous job with speeding up the pathway to the St. Joseph Memorial Chapel, creating a quick time-lapse, panning out with a symmetrical shot between steeples and catching a multitude of still and moving shots around/above campus.
3. Kenyon College in Gambier, OH
Net Cost: $28,253
YouTuber streetreporter published Brendan Keefe’s aerial drone video of Kenyon College as a part of a series in July 2014 using his DJI Phantom Quadcopter. This Kenyon alumnus captured several beautifully artistic shots of the campus’ buildings, fixtures, steeples, clock and train, as well as a marvelous aerial bird’s eye view of campus where the buildings are picturesque enough to look fake. Great Value Colleges, Forbes, LendEDU, Best College Reviews and more have recognized Kenyon as one of the country’s most beautiful colleges.
2. Augustana College in Rock Island, IL
Net Cost: $22,715
Previously ranked as one of the prettiest college campuses by Forbes, Thrillist and others, Augustana College earned some extra brownie points because two aerial view videos are available on YouTube to show off the campus during the summer (above) and after the leaves changed for the fall. While two different sources published these videos, we appreciate the way each tour utilizes a quickened zoom and labels for most of the buildings on campus to help familiarize viewers with what they’re looking at. Dphilms produced the summer aerial drone footage, and the fall video was published a year prior through the college’s YouTube channel.
1. Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, CA
Net Cost: $40,226
The LMU Magazine at Loyola Marymount University published this drone tour of its campus in November 2014, and multiple sources consider this campus as one of the most beautiful schools. The edited transitions, visual symmetry, balance of aerial and up-close shots and use of both indoor and outdoor clips of these stunning campus buildings come together to properly show off a beautiful campus. Unlike any other on the list, this video takes viewers inside of various campus facilities to show off their stunning interiors. Our favorite part is at 01:55 when the drone takes off from the circular stone courtyard and over the hill while the sun sets in the background.