East Vs. West Coast College

The classic East Vs. West Coast College rivalry has touched everything from sports to entertainment. But did you know that it’s also a debate between colleges, too? If you’re looking to choose between a school on the East Coast and one on the West Coast, we’ve got news for you: 

There are stark differences between them. That’s right. Depending on the side of the country you go to, you can expect radically different college experiences.

Understanding which one is right for you will help you determine the university you should attend. 

For that reason, we’ve listed six of the most important differences between East Coast and West Coast universities. 

Keep the following information in mind as you look to make your decision. 


We put this in all caps for a reason. If you’re looking to attend an athletically-inclined institution, your best options all rest on the East Coast. 

That’s true for one sport in particular: football. 

While West Coast schools such as Oregon and USC briefly flirted with success, their legacies can’t compare with their Eastern rivals. 

Southeastern schools, in particular, enjoy incredible success in college football. For those looking to start an athletic career, these universities offer amazing resources that allow for proper development. 

A look at the NFL draft shows an overwhelming number of players come from the East Coast—showing that it reigns supreme it comes to developing football players. 

And yes, while football is not the only sport—it’s the biggest event in college athletics. 

Which leads us to our next point: Depending on your region, football is a way of life. 

Many schools on the East Coast, for instance, prioritize football just as much as they do academics.

Tailgating and attending college football games remains a time-honored practice and draws tens of thousands of fans to campus every home game. 

Check out these cool tailgating supplies on Amazon if you enjoy that part of college culture.

East Vs. West Coast College

And while some schools on the West Coast have their fair share of fanfare, the overall football culture cannot hold up. 

With no national championship wins in the past fifteen years (save for one vacated win), the West Coast has witnessed a declining interest in college football. 

While on the East coast, however, it sees a meteoric rise.

With schools in both the Northern and Southern half of the East Coast taking home the top crown in recent years, college football has become one of the main events for East Coast college-goers. 

And they wouldn’t have it any other way. 

Campus Culture 

It’s also the case that schools on these opposite sides of the country have radically-different campus cultures. 

East Coast schools have a reputation for stricter codes and attitudes, while those on the West Coast are known for their laid-back attitudes. 

East Vs. West Coast College

That’s not to say that East Coast schools can’t hold their own, however. With some of the nation’s most-popular schools thriving in the Southeast, the East Coast enjoys its share of fun. 

That being said, overall campus attitudes between the coasts prove to be different. Cultural attitudes on the East Coast lead students to be more uptight and more traditional in many regards.

Those on the West Coast, however, are known for forsaking traditional morality for more hedonistic ideologies. 

The overall result has led to a West Coast campus culture that’s more open to a wide variety of diverse students and backgrounds—except those, of course, to the right. 

In recent years, campuses across the US have become more politically-stratified than ever.

And West Coast universities—those in California, in particular—are leading the charge for the acceptance of left-wing ideology as widespread truth. 

The result has led to the widespread protests of Conservative ideals and speakers across West Coast universities, as well as Antifa attacks on certain groups of individuals. 

Students on the East Coast, however, are more likely to experience a better balance between political ideologies—though they still typically prove left-leaning. 

This political stratification should be an important deciding factor for those who are looking to find the right college. 

Be sure to find a campus that proves inclusive of your beliefs and identity so that you can feel comfortable. 

For those to the right of the political spectrum, several East Coast private schools may prove the best option. 


East Coast and West Coast schools differ greatly in terms of their histories. 

In fact, it may be the area in which one may most-easily spot differences between these two kinds of universities. 

For starters, universities—like the United States—got their start on the East Coast. 

Some of the nation’s oldest and most-storied universities have been around on the East Coast before the West was even explored. 

In this regard, the history of East Coast schools trumps that of those to the West. 

In fact, three West Coast schools lay claim to the title of the oldest university in the United States: Harvard University, William and Mary, and the University of Pennsylvania.

East Vs. West Coast College

Their claims date back to the days of colonial America. Harvard University, for instance, was founded in 1636—or just twenty years after the death of Shakespeare. 

Additionally, the University of Georgia holds the title of the oldest public university in the United States. It was founded in 1785. 

In contrast, the oldest university on the West Coast is the University of Washington, founded in 1861. 

To put that into perspective, East Coast schools predate the formation of the United States, while their West Coast counterparts have only been in operation since the time of the Civil War. 

Perhaps the most notable difference this entails is in the collections these schools offer.

It goes without saying that Harvard and other Ivy League schools boast incredible collections of resources, but this also extends to public universities. 

The University of Georgia, for instance, has a library that dates back to the eighteenth century—and they still have the books to prove it.

This makes going to older East Coast schools a valuable way to look at first-hand documents from the time period. 

While West Coast schools enjoy their own collections, nothing can replace the authenticity of resources gathered throughout time by universities on the East Coast. 

In fact, these old documents have even come under scholarly research by professors at the University of Virginia, as they trace the different footnotes and messages left in these books over time. 

So what’s the bottom line? 

When it comes to history, East Coast schools come out on top. Though West Coast schools enjoy great traditions of their own, they trail behind their East Coast counterparts by more than two hundred years. 

Campus Facilities 

What West Coast universities lack in history, they make up for in campus facilities. 

Because these universities tend to be newer, their facilities tend to be more modern and up-to-date. 

That’s not to say, however, that East Coast universities lag far behind—especially those with a greater reputation.

Several East Coast universities have worked to modernize their campuses over the last twenty years, with new technological innovations and funding making even public schools world-class. 

Because of their age, however, West Coast universities do enjoy, on average, better facilities.

This results from new construction and their ability to avoid having to secure permission to update existing campus structures. 

With that in mind, however, students on both coasts can be sure to have access to top-quality facilities. 

The Prestige 

This is the one that many on the West Coast likely don’t want to hear. 

But the fact of the matter is that universities on the East Coast tend to enjoy a better reputation. 

This, of course, is in reference to elite Ivy League universities. 

East Vs. West Coast College

Typically considered the most prestigious universities in the world, Ivy League schools are among the most coveted for almost anyone applying for secondary education. 

That’s not to say that the West Coast doesn’t have its own share of world-class universities.

But a look at the top universities in the world reveals that the East Coast still remains supreme. 

According to the 2019 World University ranking, the top four universities in the world are as follows: 

  1. Massachusetts of Technology (MIT)
  2. Harvard University 
  3. Stanford University 
  4. University of California, Berkeley 

As is clear, the top two spots both go to traditional East Coast powerhouses—with two West Coast favorites lagging right behind. 

Still, both coasts have something to be proud of—as they dominate the top five rankings of the best universities in the world. 

In doing so, they beat out the likes of Oxford and Cambridge University in England and other leading European and Asian universities. 

As a result, both coasts enjoy schools with world-class prestige and that attract students from all across the world. 

That being said, however, the remainder of the top list is dominated by East Coast schools.

From the likes of Princeton, Duke, Yale, and Johns Hopkins to public universities such as the Georgia Institute of Technology and the University of Florida, the East Coast features some of the nation’s best schools.

Even better, because of the range of schools it offers, the East Coast makes it easier to attend school for a variety of individuals. 

The Price

Which leads us to our next point. 

Schools on the East Coast are, on average, cheaper than their Western counterparts. The best public university in California—UCLA—for instance, has a tuition fee nearing $17,000.

The Georgia Institute of Technology, the best public university in Georgia, has a tuition rate of only $12,000. 

Other quality public schools, such as the state’s flagship university, have tuition prices as low as $8,000 a year. 

The Weather 

Perhaps one of the most important considerations some students make when choosing their university is the weather. 

It’s here that many will find a stark difference between schools on the East and West coasts. 

The West Coast generally enjoys fairer temperatures throughout the year. This means that students typically enjoy mild weather throughout most of the year. 

This stands in stark contrast to East Coast schools that fluctuate between temperature extremes. 

Those attending Ivy Leagues and the University of Chicago, for instance, are no stranger to heavy snowfalls that would freeze most on the West Coast right in their tracks. 

And in the Southeast, sweltering heat can get so high that getting from one part of campus to the other can often prove difficult. 

The good news is that there are plenty of options for those who are looking to choose a university no matter the climate. 

While these general weather trends may differ from school to school, it’s a safe bet that West Coast schools tend to enjoy more pleasant weather. 

Unless, that is, you’re a fan of the heat—or the cold. 

The Cities They’re In 

Finally, East and West Coast universities often differ based on the cities they’re in or around. 

Several popular East Coast universities, for instance, lie far from major metropolises.

Though this isn’t always the case, it is true that universities on the West Coast tend to be surrounded by more modern facilities. 

Both Harvard and MIT, for instance, are located in Cambridge, Massachusetts—with a population of roughly 100,000 people. 

In contrast, UCLA is located in Los Angeles—population 4 million. 

This means that those on the West Coast generally have better access to cities and other amenities—often making them more attractive to students than quaint East Coast college towns. 

The Bottom Line

Both the East Coast and West Coast universities have their advantages. With both topping the world in terms of prestige and academic education, aspiring students can’t go wrong by choosing either option. 

With radically-different campus cultures, prices, and locations, however, these universities may appeal to different groups of people. 

If you’re looking to choose a university that’s right for you, be sure to keep the above information in mind. Make sure that you’re comfortable with the location before making your commitment. 

By doing so, you’ll enjoy a happier and more-prosperous university career. 

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