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Colleges playing themselves -- or not

With the Academy Awards around the corner, a college guidance company has assembled a list of 10 "Leading Role" college campuses that have played themselves to memorable effect on the big screen. Here is the list, from WiseChoice, in Alexandia. (The descriptions are theirs.)

1. Columbia University - President Obama's alma mater and one of the world's top academic and research institutions, Columbia has served as the backdrop for numerous films including "Spider Man," "Marathon Man" and "Hitch."
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2. Harvard University - Consistently ranked as one of the best Ivy League universities and set in picturesque New England, it's no surprise Harvard has starred in such popular films as "Legally Blonde," "Love Story" and "With Honors."

3. Indiana University - Home of the Hoosiers and 24 national championships, this "Big Ten" school appeared in the 1979 Oscar-winning picture "Breaking Away."

4. Louisiana State University - The LSU Tigers have graduated numerous student-athletes to professional sports teams, making it the ideal setting for "Everybody's All American," a movie covering 25 years in the life of a college football hero.

5. Marshall University - Named after John Marshall, former Chief Justice of the United States, this West Virginia school was the genuine locale for "We Are Marshall," a true, inspiring tale of a plane crash that claimed the lives of members of the university's football team and its struggle to rebound.

6. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - A world-class learning institution with an appetite for big, intractable and complicated problems, MIT was undeniably the best location to film "Good Will Hunting," winner of two Academy Awards (Best Original Screenplay and Best Supporting Actor).

7. University of Chicago - Featured in the opening scene of "When Harry Met Sally," the University of Chicago sets the stage for this Oscar-nominated (Best Original Screenplay) comedy of two characters who are confronted with the question, "Can a man and woman just be friends?"

8. University of Notre Dame - Chronicling the life of Daniel "Rudy" Ruettiger, who harbored dreams of playing football at the University of Notre Dame despite significant obstacles, "Rudy" captures the home and spirit of the Fighting Irish.

9. University of Southern California - Selected for preservation in the U.S. National Film Registry as being culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant, "The Graduate," winner of the Best Director Oscar, portrayed USC admirably.

10. Wellesley College - This prestigious school counts Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, producer/screenwriter Nora Ephron and ABC World News anchor Diane Sawyer among its alumnae, making it a model location for the coming-of-age film, "Mona Lisa Smile."

And here are a few "stand-in" colleges, playing the parts of other schools. (Again, the descriptions come from WiseChoice):

Agnes Scott College - Best Picture nominee "The Blind Side" (Movie Campus: University of Mississippi) and "The Four Seasons" (Movie Campus: unnamed) were both filmed at this Georgia gem.

Fairleigh Dickinson University, Fordham University and Manhattan College - All three higher-learning institutions played a part in the Oscar-winner, "A Beautiful Mind" (Movie Campus: Princeton University).

UCLA and University of Wisconsin - These campuses got no respect in "Back to School," which opted for the fictitious name Grand Lakes University.

Union College - Located in Schenectady, NY, this liberal arts school was the stand in for an unnamed campus in the Oscar-winning "The Way We Were."

University of Oregon - As the backdrop for "Animal House," one of the most popular college movies of all time, the University of Oregon is referred to as the fictional Faber College.

University of Southern California - Although most of the Oscar-winning "Forrest Gump" takes place in Alabama, scenes at the University of Alabama actually were filmed at USC.

Yale University - This private Ivy League school appeared in "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull," as fictional Marshall College.

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By Daniel de Vise  |  February 18, 2010; 8:00 AM ET
Categories:  Admissions , Marketing  | Tags: Columbia University, Harvard University, college admissions, marketing  
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