Often, you can immediately tell a college’s prestige just by hearing its name. 👂🏻
Harvard, Princeton, Stanford, Yale — the names of these colleges alone all conjure mental images of manicured campuses, big-time endowments, and state-of-the-art everything.
But the US is no stranger to the weirdest college names that will leave you scratching your head in confusion (and some may even make you chuckle). 😜
- Samford University
- Chattahoochee Valley Community College
- Coconino Community College
- Citrus College
- Ave Maria University
- Oglethorpe University
- Joliet Junior College
- Friends University
- Bowdoin College
- Wor–Wic Community College
- Goucher College
- Madonna University
- Gustavus Adolphus College
- Tougaloo College
- Itawamba Community College
- Hannibal-LaGrange University
- Little Big Horn College
- Chief Dull Knife College
- Colgate University
- Cape Fear Community College
- Converse University
- Sitting Bull College
- Presentation College
- College of Wooster
- Otterbein University
- Oral Roberts University
“Did you say Stanford?” That must be one of the most eye-rolling questions that Samford students hear on the daily. 🙄
But this institution, once known as Howard College, decided to rename itself in 1965 to honor Frank Park Samford, an insurance executive who was a longtime trustee.
Chattahoochee Valley Community College
Hear giggles each time you tell people where you study? Well, that’s to be expected if you attend a college that has the word “hoochee” in its name. 🤭
While it might seem like a ridiculous, made-up name, the term actually comes from “chatto” and “hoche” — two Muscogee words that mean “stone” and “marked.”
Coconino Community College
Fight the urge to read one of the weirdest college names out loud with an over-the-top Italian accent, okay? 🤫
This community college takes its name from Coconino County which traces its origin to the term “cohonino,” a name attributed to the American-Indian tribe Havasupai. 🤩
Hmm, what a fruity name! 🍊 Citrus is a census-designated place in Los Angeles County where this college’s 104-acre campus can be found.
It’s also awesome to think that this is the oldest community college in the county. 🤯
Ave Maria University
Here comes a private Roman Catholic university with a weird yet iconic name. 🙌🏽 You’d think that this school was inspired by the famous tune of Franz Schubert when naming the institution. But surprise!
Founder Tom Monaghan, who once owned Domino’s Pizza, actually took the name from Ave Maria, Florida, the place where the campus was permanently built. 😮
Okay, Oglethorpe may sound like a villainous sidekick in a medieval fantasy film, but the person this university is named after is more of a hero in reality.
General James Edward Oglethorpe, the founder of the colony of Georgia, advocated for the eradication of slavery and prison abuse. 🦸 Oglethorpe also fought for the North American colonies’ right to trade freely.
Joliet Junior College
If there’s one name that we can all agree belongs on this list of weird college names, it’s this one. Some of you might have read the name wrong and thought it was something you’d find in a bathroom. 🚽
But actually, this college’s name is simply referring to Joliet, Illinois where its campus is located. 😵💫
Is this a college where you can learn everything there is to know about the hit 90s sitcom Friends? 👯♀️
While that would be a dream for some, this is actually an institution headed by the Religious Society of Friends.
St. Louis businessman James Davis gave the society an abandoned lot in 1898 but the group had to come up with $50,000 to serve as the college’s endowment on their own.💰
While it’s easy to think that this is pronounced as “bow down” with a bad Boston accent, it’s meant to be read as “bow-din” and not “baw-dawn.”
This college pays homage to former Massachusetts governor James Bowdoin, who is considered to be a hero of the Revolution for putting an end to Shays’ Rebellion. 🤑
Wor–Wic Community College
It may be weird, but this college’s name is a fun portmanteau (when parts of multiple words are combined to create a new one) of the Worcester and Wicomico counties. 🤯
The institution was built to become a college without walls, serving the need for vocational and technical education in the two counties.
Goo-cher? Goo-shay? 🤔 This private liberal arts college in Towson, actually pronounced Gaw-cher, was founded by a group of Methodist Episcopal Church leaders led by Rev. John Franklin Goucher.
While it was first called the Women’s College of Baltimore City, the school was later renamed after Goucher in 1910.
Are you a fan of Madonna? 🎤 Prepare to be a little bit bummed that this university isn’t honoring the best-selling female recording artist of all time!
So where does this weird college name come from then? Madonna is an artistic representation of the Virgin Mary — a perfect name for a Catholic institution. ✝️
Gustavus Adolphus College
This college has a name fit for a king! 🤴🏽 Swedish Lutherans living in Minnesota named the liberal arts college in honor of Gustav II Adolf.
He was a renowned Swedish king who greatly influenced the educational system in their home country.
Following in the footsteps of other schools, this historically Black college takes its name from the area where it stands: a county in Jackson, Mississippi.
The history behind Tougaloo involves a famous court case called the Amistad where freed African slaves were accused of mutiny after killing their captors on a slave ship, leading to the creation of the American Missionary Association. 🛳
Itawamba Community College
This community college serves the Itawamba, Pontotoc, Chickasaw, Monroe, and Lee counties; so it’s no secret where its name came from. 🤷🏼♀️
The two-year institution was born out of the Itawamba Agricultural High School, with college-level courses being introduced in 1941.
Isn’t it funny how the name of this private Christian university in Missouri makes you think of Anthony Hopkins portraying maniacal cannibal Hannibal Lecter?
But the truth behind the name is far less sinister. It pays homage to the 1928 merger between Hannibal College and LaGrange College (which both got their names from the land where they stand). 😂
Little Big Horn College
This tribal college, chartered by the Crow Tribe of Indians, found a name thanks to a story about a young boy thrown off the Basawaxaawuua (or Big Horn Mountains) by his stepfather.
The boy’s family thought that he was dead, but seven big horn rams saved him, raised him (think Tarzan or The Jungle Book), and taught him about the big horn sheep way of life. 🐑
Chief Dull Knife College
Through its name, this community college continues to commemorate Chief Dull Knife, a significant and prominent leader of the Northern Cheyenne people. 🔪
The school changed its name to Chief Dull Knife College in 2001 to fully honor the great war captain who fought bravely to take back the tribe’s homeland in the 19th century.
Thinking about whether or not this university has anything to do with the toothpaste tube sitting on your bathroom sink? 🪥
The answer is yes! The Colgate family of the iconic toothpaste brand, more specifically William Colgate, was steadfast in their support for the institution — from money to counsel and active involvement.
Cape Fear Community College
Going by its name, this community college would have been the perfect setting for a horror movie. 🔪
But the strange name of this seaside town has been in the mouths of explorers as far back as the 1500s because of the dangerous conditions sailors encountered in the area. 😱
Sneakerheads may think that this university pays tribute to the classic footwear brand, but in reality, it was named after Dexter Edgar Converse, a pioneer of the cotton mill industry. 👟
He dreamed of starting a college because he wanted his daughter Marie to gain every advantage she could. 😉
Sitting Bull College
We’ve covered a little big horn and a dull knife. Now, let’s talk about a college weirdly named after a horned animal that must’ve been tired from standing. 🐂
The name refers to the renowned Teton Dakota leader who united the Sioux tribes against white settlers who wanted their land. The tension led to the Battle of Little Bighorn in 1876 which ended with the natives’ victory.
Imagine a college where all you do is prepare and give out presentations — what a nightmare!
This might be the picture in your head after reading this weird college name, but you don’t need to worry! The “presentation” is taken from the institution’s original sponsor: the Sisters of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary. ✝️
College of Wooster
Are you sure this isn’t a typo? It turns out that this silly-sounding name is derived from a county in Ohio (and has nothing to do with roosters). 🐓
It was first called the University of Wooster by Presbyterians, back when it only housed 30 men and four women as students and five faculty members, before settling with the College of Wooster.
Ding, ding, ding! Another university with an animal in its name. 🦦
Otterbein was founded by the Church of the United Brethren in Christ, but we have the church’s founder, the Rev. Philip William Otterbein, to thank for the adorable moniker.
Oral Roberts University
Probably one of the weirdest college names we have here (the word “oral” really throws us off), this Tulsa-based institution got its title from the evangelist who founded it. 😮
The university started “as a result of the evangelist Oral Roberts’ obeying God’s mandate to build a university on God’s authority and the Holy Spirit.”
That wraps it up! Who knew that the US had so many schools with the weirdest college names? 😱
But it’s important to remember that even if the name of your dream school conjures up a few chuckles, all that really matters is how it gets you closer to your goals.