It’s September, which means that you’re either back in school or, like me, celebrating that you don’t have to shell out a month’s rent for textbooks because you’ve finished your educational career. Either way, school’s on the brain, so let’s do a rundown of the top five fictional schools—places you’d celebrate going back to. Maybe.
5. Sunnydale High School (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)
Downsides: all the usual high school drama, cliques, and hormones. Oh, and people keep dying or getting attacked by all manner of strange creatures and things that go bump in the night, possibly because someone didn’t do their research before building a town on a Hellmouth. But no worries! You have a Slayer and the world’s most brilliant librarian taking care of you. Most of you.
4. Greendale Community College (Community)
Downsides: you may not actually get an education, per se. Upsides: Wacky shenanigans of all sorts. An ever-amusing Dean. Constant, moderate-to-high levels of chaos. Occasional school-wide cutthroat paintball tournaments. Troy and Abed in the mooooorning. You may not learn, but you’ll have a really good time not learning! And only a minor chance of getting killed, which puts Greendale a step above most of the other schools on this list.
3. Wyverly College (Sabriel)
Where else can you bring an apocalyptic battle to the doorstep and your lovely, conservative teachers will roll up their sleeves and help?
“We will shortly be attacked by the Dead.”
“So there will be danger to my students?”
“There will be danger to everyone.”
“Well, we’d better get organized then.”
Those are the kind of teachers I want to have around. On top of that, Wyverly is a finishing school that will also teach you magic and help organize visits by ghostly parental apparitions. A bit more than you might expect from a school “Established in 1652 for Young Ladies of Quality.”
2. Xavier’s School For Gifted Youngsters (X-Men)
The ultimate school for weirdos. They’ll take you in, train you up, and let you know that not only are you not alone for being a genetic freak, you’re in very good company and oh, by the way, you’re a superhero. Like Sunnydale, there’s a minor chance that you’ll get killed while enrolled, but superpowers and one of the most badass professorial lineups around mostly make up for that.
1. Hogwarts School for Witchcraft and Wizardry (Harry Potter)
Was there ever any doubt? You get an envelope at the age of 11 that whisks you off on a train through the beautiful English countryside where you get to live in an enchanted castle filled with amazing rooms and secrets, fly around on brooms, hang out with all sorts of interesting and possibly deadly creatures, and learn magic. Like most of the other schools on this list, you stand a minor chance of dying and a major chance of inflicting serious bodily harm on yourself or others, but it’s a small price to pay for the most amazing seven years of your life, don’t you think?