?For all of the many, many characters loved and revered by much of Nerd-dom, not a lot of attention is paid to the institutions that created them. We’re not talking about the publishing companies or the film studios – or even the writers. Rather, this list pays tribute to the places where our heroes learned to be heroes (and, more often than not, where our villains learned to be villains). These are the places that feature courses and disciplines that lead to careers that we can only dream of — and while they don’t always come with any kind of official degree, they’re still probably a lot more profitable than majoring in Art History.
Sadly, while none of us will be getting degrees in Kicking Ass, with a minor in Taking Names anytime soon, we can at least imagine what it could be like to attend any of these fine places of learning. Or at least get to the point where we can write bad, self-insert fan fiction about the experience, whichever is easier. Here, in no particular order, are ten awesome places of learning:
10) Camp Half-Blood
?This Long Island summer camp of Percy Jackson series fame provides much-needed training to demi-gods – the half-human children of the Olympians – to help them protect themselves from the many monsters and evil forces that seek them out. While it is possible for a demi-god to survive on their own, it is by no means easy, and the camp offers magical protection and classes designed to help half-bloods survive. Chiron, the legendary trainer of many Greek heroes, is serious about the training – he pulls no punches. There are classes in archery, a climbing wall with molten lava, training in the use of bronze weapons, chariot races – and no-holds-barred games of Capture the Flag. Not to worry, though – there was recently a “no maiming” rule imposed, though the Ares cabin tends to have trouble with that one.
9) Roke Island
?Earthsea’s Roke Island was founded to create a haven for magic-users whose powers were used to wage war by powerful lords. The school grew so powerful that its leader, the Archmage, rivaled the king in influence over Earthsea. The Archmage would never seek to usurp power, though – the school’s intention is merely to retain the balance. Individuals born with a significant amount of magical power will achieve a wizard’s staff if they can prove their discipline and abilities. Magic of Earthsea is based on knowing and being able to use the true names of things – as such, it’s important not to mumble.
8) Academy of Law
This place is not for the faint of heart. To become one of the Judges of Mega-City One, like Judge Dredd, applicants (clones from good genetic stock or young recruits) should be prepared to spend fifteen years in this intensive program, although particularly driven cadets have been known to finish in thirteen. This is far from easy, though, and many of the cadets never become Judges. Lest anyone think that it’s not worth it – just remember that Judges get badass Lawgiver pistols and Lawmaster motorcycles. Incentive enough, right? Though the Academy provides a place for cadets to live, learn, train and be constantly tested, they do eventually have to put their combat training to the test in a “Hotdog Run.”
7) Starfleet Academy
?Founded in 2161, the same year as the United Federation of Planets, the main campus of this Earth-based academy is located in what is now Fort Baker, California and features a lovely view of the Golden Gate bridge. Students at the academy must complete a four-year training program, after which they are typically commissioned as ensigns in Starfleet. Though the student body is mostly made up of beings from the Federation, it is possible for non-Federation people to be accepted, as long as they have a letter of recommendation from a command-level Starfleet officer. Famous former cadets include the various commanders of the Starship Enterprise, and the whiny son of a certain female medical officer.
6) The Xavier Institute for Higher Learning
?Professor Charles Xavier donated is ancestral mansion to the cause of helping young mutants understand and development their powers (oh, and to get an education, too). Known first as Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters, and more commonly as the X-Mansion, it was the training location for many of the original X-Men, as well as one or two loners that would periodically drift in and out. Many of the X-Men actually hold faculty positions at the school, which also serves as a convenient hiding place for many of the X-gadgets they use in their operations. Despite all of that, it’s still remarkably easy for the bad guys to break in and periodically demolish it. The other downside is the liklihood of eventually being dicked over by the school’s namesake.
5) Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry
?This school has been made Unplottable, which means that it’s not possible to give a location more specific than “somewhere in Scotland”. Not to worry though – students should have no problem making it to and from school every year as long as they board the Hogwarts Express, which leaves from Platform 9 ? in King’s Cross (flying Ford Anglias are less than reliable). All first year students are Sorted into one of four Houses: Hufflepuff, Gryffindor, Slytherin and Ravenclaw. There’s plenty of trouble to get into at Hogwarts – one could spend all seven of their years at this school and still not even scratch the surface of all the secret passages, hidden chambers, and general weirdness that can be found in the castle itself – and that doesn’t even include the grounds! There’s the Forbidden Forest, the lake with the Giant Squid and the nearby village of Hogsmead as well.
?The planet Oa serves as the headquarters of the Green Lantern Corps, as well as the Guardians of the Universe. The Guardians administer the Corps, providing green power rings to the members of the intergalactic police force, as well as lanterns with which to charge them. The Corps headquarters provide a place for the Green Lanterns to consult the Book of Oa (the Corps lawbook and bible), and records of the most heroic deeds performed by the most famous Green Lanterns in the Corps’ history. There’s the Hazard Simulation Facility, which provides non-lethal training experience for rookie Lanterns. Oa also houses the Sciencells, which are used to incarcerate the worst criminals of the universe. There has yet to be a successful rehabilitation of any inmate, though.
3) Miskatonic University
?First appearing in H.P. Lovecraft’s “Herbert West – Reanimator” serial and expanded upon in the Cthulhu mythos by Lovecraft and numerous other authors, this university should be a first pick for anyone interested in risking a meteoric rise to power and unfathomable madness, usually followed by some kind of horrific death. It’s located in the fictional town of Arkham, Massachusetts. Need to brush up on your mystic/occult knowledge? Stop by the campus library, where you can lay your hands on rarities like the Necronomicon, the Unaussprechlichen Kulten, and the Book of Eibon. It should go without saying that the University is not responsible for the actions of any Elder Gods that may be called upon or summoned, whether by accident or on purpose.
2) Bene Gesserit Mother School
Sorry, boys – this school is strictly for the ladies. The Bene Gesserit sisterhood was founded ostensibly under the intent to “serve the Empire”, when in fact they are actually a major power in the Dune universe. The Bene Gesserits have developed various supernatural abilities through physical (prana-bindu and the weirding way) and mental training, and their use of the spice melange. Women trained in the order are loyal first to the goals of the sisterhood, with family and personal commitments coming second, if at all. They are trained to become ideal mates for men in positions of power, and their abilities allow them to conceive very specific offspring. One of the most fearsome powers of the Bene Gesserits is the Voice, which allows them to control others merely by altering their vocal tones.
1) Unseen University
?Discworld’s Unseen University is located in the city of Ankh-Morpork. It boasts several impressive and surprisingly mobile buildings, including the Tower of Art, the Library, and the High Energy Magic Building. The grounds are walled off from the rest of the city, but it hardly members as students and faculty members are adept at climbing the gates after they close every night. The University is somewhat divided between the older wizards that make up most of the faculty and staff, and the younger students (and one or two faculty members). The older wizards are cagey and well-fed, having snapped up the choicest positions at the University and preventing other would-be applicants from murdering them for it. The younger wizards are very excited about magical possibilities, which means that they only know as much as the older wizards – they just have fancier words to define what they don’t know.