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Postcard from Chico State

Postcard from Chico State

Chico State (officially known as California State University, Chico) is known throughout California as a party school. To be fair, it certainly had its hey-day in the 80s and 90s when it was named the top party school in the nation by Playboy. But since then, it’s become one of the top public institutions in California: graduates are sought after for their extensive practical experience and their ability to balance a social life and an academic load.

Yellow bike in front of trees on California State University, Chico campus

Many people immediately dismiss Chico State as a party school, Chico as a hick town in the middle of nowhere. I think that those people have never been to Chico: it’s impossible to visit without appreciating–if not falling in love with–the towering trees, the classic brick buildings, the bubbling creek cutting through the campus. Located adjacent to a quaint downtown shopping district filled with cafes and boutiques and the rowdy downtown “streets” filled with Greek houses and crumbling Victorians, the Chico State campus is filled with bridges, blooms and bicycles.

It’s been three years since I graduated, but wandering through the campus recently still brought back brilliant memories: sprawling out in the Glenn Hall grass in the sunshine between classes, lacrosse runs with sticks and balls that criss-crossed across all seven bridges, wearing my ADPi letters for the first time on a Thursday. Just as I was overwhelmed by the beauty of Butte County, I was impressed by the lush green campus.

Mural and blue skies on California State University, Chico campus

One of my favorite murals on campus: done by alum John Pugh while he was still a student in the early 1980s, he has gone on to become a noted trompe l’oeil muralist who has created more than 200 large-scale pieces.

Alpha Delta Pi Eta Rho house at California State University, Chico

Here’s where I lived my senior year: the Alpha Delta Pi house is home to 21 members, including the entire Executive Board, and plenty of history. We were known as the girlfriend sorority: the joke was that a guy walked in one door single and out the opposite door with a girlfriend.

Yellow flowers in front of campus signs at California State University, Chico

Yellow flowers blooming in front of the science building.

Marching band in front of trees on California State University, Chico campus

The best part of Chico is that you never know what to expect: as I was wandering around the campus, this makeshift marching band–complete with accordions, trombones and guitars–was weaving around while playing.

Bidwell Mansion on California State University, Chico campus

Bidwell Mansion: with indoor plumbing, gas lighting and a wraparound porch, the 26-room Victorian was considered the jewel of Northern California architecture when it was built in the late 1800s. My favorite bit is that it was turned into a women’s dormitory for a bit–and the women studied in the rooms and slept on the veranda!

Yellow and pink flowers on California State University, Chico campus

Springtime blooms outside Kendall Hall.

Creek amphitheatre on California State University, Chico campus

This is actually one of the clinchers when I was deciding where to go to school: what other campus not only has a creek running through it year-round, but has an amphitheatre with the stage on one side and the seating on the other? My favorite feature of the Chico State campus by far.

What’s your favorite photo of Chico State?

  • I wish we had such pretty universities in Quebec. US uni may be more expensive, but damn they’re pretty!

  • What a lovely campus!

  • Whatwhat! Raise the roof to CSU’s! (CSUN represent right here:-)). God, I am getting old. I totally forgot that Chico was known as a party school.

  • Haha Mizzou definitely didn’t have a “girlfriend sorority;” that’s a funny stereotype. But out of all the stereotypes to have, I guess that one isn’t bad! 🙂 And I love that first picture; what a cute bike!

  • Katelyn

    Let’s move back! 🙂

  • Briel79

    That amphitheatre is really cool!

  • Love it!  I moved to Chico from So Cal for college, graduated and ended up marrying here and having two babies here.  I feel blessed that I got to stay here and make it my home, long after I had graduated!

  • It looks beautiful, and you’ve made me nostalgic for my university as well! 

  • Riz

    Love the dramatic shot of the bike. 🙂 
    Bidwell Mansion looks awesome. 🙂

  • camorose

    The best part is that I went to a public university as a California resident–so my tuition was only $2000! I think we had a prettier campus than some of the privates that cost a ridiculous amount!

  • camorose

    Thanks–it was a wonderful four years!

  • camorose

    Haha yesss love the CSU system–especially what it costs for California residents!

  • camorose

    Haha yes there were definitely worse stereotypes! And yes, seeing all the bikes totally made me miss my lime green cruiser!

  • camorose

    Only if we can all live together…that would be so cool.

  • camorose

    I just wished I had a chance to use it more while a student!

  • camorose

    How awesome! When I visited with friends a few weeks ago, we fell back in love with the Chico community. The university is lovely, but I really adore all the parks and green spaces and cute restaurants outside of downtown. Great place to raise a family!

  • camorose

    Awwww I do love university life and the beauty of college campuses 🙂

  • camorose

    Yesss it’s a lovely place! 🙂

  • Very cool. I HAVE to make a pilgrimage out to Chico at some point. I’m kinda sorta named after and related to that fellow who built that mansion. I’ve heard there are a lot of other places in town that have my/his name on it as well.

  • camorose

    Oh how neat! Then yes, you must go–it’s such a beautiful place!

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