Students have to consider a lot when they choose their college, from Princeton Review ratings to available degrees to the quality of the campus's dining halls. Incoming students with a penchant for ghost stories should also check out their school's reputation for supernatural happenings. Whether the stories stem from real events, explain strange things around campus, or simply serve to freak out freshmen, they are sometimes as scary as the most dreaded university rules.
Historic colleges are a great place to find ghost stories and encounter the paranormal. Some universities embrace their spooky reputation by sharing their best-known legends in archives and offering haunted campus tours. You may associate college with frat parties and term papers, but in the case of these schools, students could end up partying and studying with ghosts.
Akin to the namesake Civil War battle that claimed around 51,000 lives, Gettysburg College shares a connection with lots of ghosts. The school opened in 1832, which was 30 years before the war started. The military used the university's Penn Hall as a hospital.
According to one security guard, he experienced a bizarre elevator ride in 2003. When the elevator doors opened, instead of seeing the basement, the guard witnessed a gruesome hospital scene with doctors frantically tending to bloody patients. The doors closed again - when they reopened, the normal basement had returned. Two campus administrators allegedly had a similar experience in the 1980s.
The residence halls are not exempt from paranormal incidents. Students reported hearing strange things, such as dragging noises, mysterious footsteps, and an unplugged, yet still-ringing alarm clock.
Stevens Hall allegedly has the most hauntings. One well-known legend involves the Blue Boy, an orphan saved from the harsh cold by a group of girls in their dormitory. When confronted by the dorm's housemother, the girls hid him outside on a window ledge. Stories claim he disappeared; however, he continues to make his appearance known with odd noises and by pressing his blue face against windows.
Renowned as a filming location for The Exorcist, Georgetown University is among Washington DC's most haunted places. Founded in 1789, Georgetown is the oldest Catholic university in the US. Many claim apparitions roam the school's flagship building Healy Hall. Ghosts allegedly appear throughout the building, such as a student rumored to have died by falling from the upper floors.
Though the building has five floors, only four are accessible. According to an urban legend, a student practicing the occult accidentally opened a portal to the underworld, forcing the school to block off the entire floor.
Others have said the sealed floor is either the result of a priest's murder or a botched exorcism. At least one student has noted scratches on a door, pointing to those marks as proof of a past exorcism. Tunnels under the building supposedly feature ghostly inhabitants as well.
In 1949, the Old Kenyon building of Ohio's Kenyon College burned to the ground, taking the lives of nine students. Several burned while trapped inside; two died from jumping out windows to escape.
The school rebuilt the dorm; in the years since students claimed to hear knocks on their doors and voices warning them to leave. They also reported seeing apparitions appearing from the waist up or as feet emerging from the ceiling. A young man killed by a train during a fraternity pledging also allegedly haunts Old Kenyon, turning on lights and opening windows.
After a student fell down an elevator shaft in Caples Residence in 1979, stories abounded of showers and lights turning on and off independently, suggesting the former student may still roam the campus. On one occasion, campus security allegedly received a series of calls from three different dorm rooms - a woman screaming was the only audible sound on the phone. When officers entered the rooms, however, they found disconnected telephones.
Another ghostly rumor involves the school's dance studio where an Air Force cadet allegedly drowned in a pool in the 1940s. Stories claimed he jumped too high on the diving board, broke his neck on the ceiling, and drowned.
Dancers have said they sometimes see wet footprints on the floor, self-powering lights, and the occasional noise of the diving board and splashes. A safety officer once claimed he heard footsteps, but turned around only to see a newly formed puddle.
One resident assistant noticed the mattress in a specific dorm room often sat upright; he moved it several times. He laughed it off as a practical joke until a Jesuit priest knocked on his door one night to apologize about how the mattress "normally stays at the other end of the hall;" he informed the RA that he "took care of it." The mattress never moved again. When the RA described the priest to others, he learned the man passed away long ago.
There are rumors about a Jesuit graveyard beneath Collins Hall, which may explain the numerous reported supernatural encounters. The spookiest ghost story from Fordham, however, comes from Finlay Hall, a dorm once serving as the medical school. Many of the students' rooms were once examination rooms with lofts used by med students to observe cadavers below.
Later on, residents of these rooms claimed people dressed in lab coats stared at them from the loft. Some said they felt as if someone applied a toe tag or grasped their neck. After hearing chairs moving and doors slamming in the basement, a security guard decided to quit his job a day later.