*In-state, two semesters' tuition and required fees. Source: U.S. News Best Colleges 2012.
Chartered in 1844 and known affectionately as Ole Miss, the University of Mississippi is home to an acclaimed Southern studies center and the national library of the accounting profession. It also houses research programs to discover new medicines from plants and sea life, and to develop acoustic land-mine and tornado detectors.
Town: Oxford (pop. 18,916)
Colors: Harvard Crimson and Yale Blue
Traditions: The campus speed limit is 18 miles per hour in honor of Ole Miss hall of famer Archie Manning, the football patriarch’s jersey number. Tailgating on the Grove, the campus centerpiece, is ranked as the nation’s best by several national media outlets. The school cheer is the “Hotty Toddy.” Elma Meek suggested Ole Miss for a yearbook title contest in 1896.
Eats and treats: Ajax Diner was voted “best downhome soul food” in Mississippi Magazine. Try the French-inspired Southern fare at City Grocery, owned by James Beard award-winner John Currence, along with Boure, Big Bad Breakfast and Snackbar eateries. Proud Larry’s urges customers to come for the food and stay for the live music.
Places and spaces: Visit Rowan Oak, home of Nobel Prize-winning author and alumnus William Faulkner. Mizzou alumni will recognize the six ionic columns of the Lyceum, Ole Miss’ first building and the heart of campus. Music lovers should visit the Blues Archive at J.D. Williams Library, with more than 60,000 sound recordings, 20,000 photographs and more. Square Books is hailed as one of the country’s finest independent bookstores.
Correction: A previous version of this story included a misspelling of Kenny Hulshof's last name.
Rebel fans tailgate in The Grove before all home football games.