What Was the First College in the U.S.

I am not sure why, but my younger brother’s favorite movie is Accepted.

For those of you that haven’t seen it, the movie is about a group of kids who start a college when they can’t get into any real universities once they graduate high school.

It is actually a pretty funny movie and I have always kind of assumed that the University of Arizona started the same way. Just a bunch of kids who couldn’t get into a real school, making up classes and degrees.

Just kidding U of A.

Seeing that movie on TV got me thinking, what was the first college in the United States? And did it start with a bunch of kids who had nothing else to do?

According to Wikipedia, the first American college is actually a touchy subject.

Apparently there is some drama between Harvard University, University of Pennsylvania and the College of William and Mary. All three claim to be the first.

Harvard, founded in 1636, claims to be “the oldest institution of higher education in the United States.”

Penn considers itself, “America’s first University” as of 1765 when its medical school was created.

William and Mary says that it is the first college to become a university when it did so in 1779.

Without going into too much detail, the debate lies with the definition and criteria used when determining what a university is. All three schools have different arguments to why their school should be considered the first.

There has got to be a way to settle this debate.

I recommend creating some type of academic decathlon like the one from the movie Billy Madison.

The three schools could pick their top students or alumni to compete in a series of academic, athletic and entertainment based challenges.

Winner gets bragging rights as the oldest US college or university or whatever they want to call themselves.

Seems fair to me. Anyone else have any ideas on how we can settle this first college debate?