School is far from the most thrilling part of life. We’re told it will be some of the best years we could live, but usually, the most exciting thing to happen is if pizza makes it onto the lunch menu.
Yet somehow, the wonders of fiction can produce institutions that never contain a dull scene or go a chapter without an exciting twist or turn. Although thinking about school is probably the last thing many of us want to do, we’ve managed to single out seven scholarly sites that are bound to change your mind.
Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry – Harry Potter
Let’s not kid ourselves – Hogwarts was always going to be at the top of the list. Normal (see: Muggle) schools have dull subjects like chemistry, sports, history, and that optional foreign language. Hogwarts, on the other hand, teaches potions, flying broomsticks, charms classes, and maybe they do still have history but wizard history has trolls.
Good students spend their evenings relaxing in comfy dormitory rooms located throughout the magical castle. For the more adventurous students, there’s still plenty of danger to excite even the most hardened thrill-seeker. Screaming books for the after-hours reader, a giant squid in the lake, and staircases that can move around and stretch the memory. There are few schools — fictional or otherwise — that can match Hogwarts.
Starfleet Academy – Star Trek
Located in Marin County, California and roughly 15 decades in the future, Starfleet Academy is the science-fiction answer to Hogwarts. Based near the Starfleet Headquarters, the Academy is where the best and brightest train to operate the vast, interstellar exploration ships of the Federation Fleet.
Like a lot of top-tier schools, Starfleet has gruelling admission regulations, including psychological tests and a six-week preparatory program. Those resilient few who manage to enter could go on to study everything from Advanced Subspace Geometry to Xenolinguistics in preparation to boldly go where no one has gone before.
Xavier’s School For Gifted Youngsters – X-Men
For a school dedicated to equal opportunity and understanding, Xavier’s School For Gifted Youngsters has strict entrance criteria: mutants only. Between crunching calculus and quoting Shakespeare for drama classes, students can earn extra credit saving the world from both threats to mutants and mutant threats. Select students who show the right aptitude can even join the greatest peace-keeping team in the extensive Marvel multiverse – the X-Men.
Here, mutants who are otherwise hated and feared across the globe can find a safe haven within the grounds. They’re taught not to react with violence towards the rest of humanity but build towards a mutually beneficial future.
UC Sunnydale – Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Built with no other goal than educating the students, UC Sunnydale is really just like any other university. That is, once you grow accustomed to the vampire students squatting in the abandoned dorm. Or the illegal government experiments in the basement. And maybe the occasional magically intoxicating drink. Otherwise, a perfectly normal establishment.
Due to the chaotic influence of the local Hellmouth, choosing to attend this institution may give you more of an education than you expected. That is, if you can survive long enough to collect your diploma.
St Trinian’s School for Young Ladies takes the traditional idea of a posh girls boarding school and blows it out of the water. Here, chaos is queen, the students are career criminals in the making, and the teachers are as disreputable as the infamous institution. Rivalries between factions run riot and it’s rare that a day goes by without at least one trap being set.
With hockey sticks for weapons and mischief on their minds, the outcasts and rebels who make this school their home hold no fear for what the world can throw at them. Really, it’s the rest of the world that should worry. There’s no telling what a Trinian survivor will (or won’t) do to any who are foolish enough to cross their paths.
William McKinley High – Glee
Everyone loves a good beat and William McKinley High is there to fill the spotlight. Primary entertainment of both staff and students is the ongoing rivalry of catchy tunes from the underdog glee club against frequently sarcastic cheer squad coach, Sue Sylvester.
William McKinley High also has an unusual knack for dealing with dense moral issues. Year after year, the school tackles subjects like sexual identity, physical and mental disabilities as well as cultural differences.
Maybe it’s not as fancy as some of the other entries but it has the right stuff to make a nice, normal school – if you can get behind the occasional choreographed Britney Spears assembly.
Jedi Academy – Star Wars
For the lucky few who are born with a connection to the Force, the only place to go is the nearest Jedi Academy. Varying in size from a single class to an academy large enough to stand out on the city-planet of Coruscant, whichever Jedi Temple prospective students end up at will teach them mastery of their emotions and control of the Force.
Lucky students might even end up on one of the mobile academies. These vast space-faring vessels that double as both travelling Temples and explanatory ships. In between meditating on the cosmos, the migratory Jedi catalogue them for their vast Archives.