Top 10 U.S. Pet-Friendly Colleges

pet friendly schoolsU.S. News & World Report, known for its rankings of colleges in a variety of categories, has added a new brand one: most pet-friendly schools.

Among the top 10 are Eckerd College and Stetson University in Florida and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

The full list:

  1. Case Western Reserve University
  2. Eckerd College
  3. Lehigh University
  4. Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  5. Principia College
  6. Stephens College
  7. Stetson University
  8. Sweet Briar College
  9. University of Notre Dame
  10. Washington and Jefferson College

Pet friendly schools have a variety of different rules and policies for on-campus pet housing. Some schools only allow small pets in cages, like hamsters or rabbits. Others allow cats and dogs under a certain weight, fish, birds, snakes and other exotic pets. Some schools have no weight limit on pets and Stephens College in Missouri even has a Doggie Daycare.

Most pet-friendly institutions reserve a certain dorm or a few dorms for students with pets, and most limit the number of pets per room to one. Some schools only allow dogs or cats in fraternity or sorority houses.

Sweet Briar College in Virginia allows students who are members of the riding program to bring their horses from home – boarding stables are available.

Dr. Becker's Comments:

I can think of lots of pluses and only a few possible drawbacks to allowing college students living on campus to keep pets.

First-year students, in particular, often feel like fish out of water once they make the transition from high school to college. They've left everything familiar at home –family, friends, and community.

Not only does a beloved pet at school ease feelings of loneliness and anxiety, it also provides a means of social support. Having a dog or cat by your side is an instant conversation starter. Students living together in pet dorms have a common interest before they even meet.

Other benefits to pets on campus:

  • Caring for a pet at school can add much-needed structure and organization to a student's daily routine.
  • Being the sole caretaker of a pet encourages responsibility and accountability.
  • Having a pet can help a young adult keep things in perspective, especially for extremely driven or anxious students who tend to focus on their studies and grade point averages to the exclusion of all else.
  • College workloads and exams create a great deal of stress for students. Pets, dogs and cats in particular, are great stress-reducers.

A Few Things to Consider Before Taking a Pet to College

Pet care can get expensive when you factor in a species-appropriate diet, supplements, toys and bedding, litter box and litter, vet visits, grooming, pet sitter or boarding costs when you're away, etc. A college student just starting out might not have the funds required to take adequate care of a pet.

Every pet needs time and attention, and this is especially true of dogs, cats and exotic birds. You'll have to carve out time every single day to feed, exercise and interact with your pet. This can be quite challenging when you're studying for exams or have multiple assignments due, or when you just need a break to go out and have fun with friends.

A pet isn't an unmade bed or a load of laundry that can be put aside for later. A pet makes daily demands on your time and energy that you must be prepared to deal with.

Most importantly, students must be committed to provide a lifetime home: this includes busy summer breaks and sometimes finding pet-friendly housing (usually more expensive) after graduation. All decisions to care for another life must be well thought out and planned for prior to finding the perfect pet.

On-Campus Therapy Dogs

Yale Law School is one of a handful of colleges and universities that provide therapy dogs to stressed out students.

Yale Law Library's terrier, Monty, is available for 30-minute 'loans' to students who feel the need to connect with a warm, furry agent of stress reduction.

Therapy dogs are also used at Tufts University in Massachusetts, Oberlin College in Ohio and UC San Diego to help students manage stress during midterms and finals.

+ Sources and References