Like a lot of kids, I didn’t enjoy school very much. I was small and unathletic, and bookish students weren’t very popular compared to those skilled at soccer and softball.
So in third grade, I escaped my actual school by reading about the school I Ionged to attend—Hogwarts. There, I found the deep and enduring friendships I lacked in my own life. Through my awful, awkward, elementary and middle school years, Hogwarts became to me exactly what it was to Harry: home, a place I could escape from the mundane world and find adventure.
I’m older now, and no longer in school, but school stories will always have a place in my heart. Here are nine other schools I'd be happy to attend this fall, if they were real and I were younger: places where students find friendship, adventure, and sometimes even magic. Did I miss any of your favorites? Share in the comments!
Luna Nova Magical Academy
The anime series Little Witch Academia is set in a school remarkably like Hogwarts, and the series captures so many of the themes that made me fall in love with the Harry Potter series. Protagonist Atsuko Kagari dreams of becoming a witch, and despite lacking a magical background, she goes to Luna Nova Magical Academy to pursue her dreams.
Little Witch Academia is a lighthearted and positive series that focuses on the friendships Atsuko forms when she starts at Luna Nova. Though the professors struggle to discover why the stream of magic has slowed on their campus, Atsuko and her friends breathe fresh life into the school, and Luna Nova’s potential for adventure makes it a place I'd love to explore.
Brakebills College is, uh, pretty different from Luna Nova. Sometimes described as a more mature Harry Potter, the SyFy television series The Magicians, based on the book trilogy by Lev Grossman, follows a young man named Quentin who attends the magical school and learns the truth behind his favorite fantasy series from childhood.
The world of The Magicians is much darker than that of Little Witch Academia, but the magic Quentin finds at Brakebills looks like so much fun to experience, and that makes the series a really enjoyable watch.
Angel Grove High School
Maybe I’m one of the only people who’d actually want to hang out in Angel Grove High School, where most of the Power Rangers series take place, but I really wouldn’t miss a chance to live somewhere I could see 20-story giant robots in pyrotechnic battles.
Angel Grove High School is definitely one of the more action-packed schools on this list. After all, if you attend Angel Grove, you're relatively likely to become a power ranger!
Galaxy Garrison doesn’t feature much in Voltron: Legendary Defender, but the space school is where the story begins. Keith, Lance, Hunk, and Pidge all start their journey at the Garrison, where the humans of the series’ universe study space travel.
As someone who once dreamed of being a rocket scientist, Galaxy Garrison is a school that soothes my inner aspiring astronaut. And while there’s definitely the whole “aliens threatening to destroy me and everyone I love” aspect of studying at Galaxy Garrison, which would be undeniably stressful, I’d rather face threats from a place I could make a difference rather than just hiding on Earth.
Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children
Miss Peregrine’s Home, from the movie and book of the same name, isn’t precisely a school. But for protagonist Jacob, it’s a place where he learns about magic, adventure, and danger. The children of the orphanage are threatened by hollowgasts, monsters which are about as creepy and gross as the name suggests.
While I don’t envy the children their battle against the creepy monsters, Miss Peregrine’s Home is a haven for those who have nowhere else to go—and with the many Peculiars and their unique abilities, there probably wouldn’t be a single boring moment.
On the more light-hearted end of the fantasy school spectrum, Sky High—from the movie of the same name—is another establishment I wish were real, a fictional aerial school where young superhumans can develop their powers.
Will Stronghold is the son of two incredibly famous superheroes, but he’s a late bloomer who starts high school with no superpowers at all. Despite that, he finds a circle of friends who save the school using their intelligence and courage, even though they have less-than-impressive superpowers.
Like Miss Peregrine’s Home, Winding Circle isn’t technically a school, although it is a place of learning. Winding Circle is a temple in the world of Tamora Pierce’s Circle of Magic quartet, where four children with specialized magic learn to use their abilities while living together in a cottage called Discipline.
Though Sandry, Tris, Daja, and Briar grow older and go off on their separate adventures, Winding Circle and Discipline Cottage is always their home. Winding Circle continues to be one of my favorite “schools” in fantasy, and it’s a place I can always go back to find my friends.
Mademoiselle Geraldine's Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality
Finishing school is the last place that my tomboy teenage self would have wanted to go. But Mademoiselle Geraldine’s isn’t an ordinary finishing school, as Sophronia Temminnick discovers when she arrives at the school in Gail Carriger’s Etiquette and Espionage. It’s a school where young ladies learn the art of finishing—including finishing lives.
Yup. A finishing school to groom teenage girls to become spies and assassins.
Mademoiselle Geraldine’s is probably the only school for girls in a steampunk story that I’d actually want to attend. As one of the characters points out, the school teaches young ladies to use others’ assumptions about them as weapons, which is a lesson to take away no matter who you are.
For the record, I probably would have fit in better at Bunson & Lacroix’s Boys’ Polytechnique — but the school for evil geniuses doesn’t usually admit young ladies.
Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters
I’ve already named a superhuman school in this list, but probably the best superhuman school is Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters—the home of the X-Men.
While X-Men is generally about a bunch of superhumans saving the world, one of the most important series themes is outsiders finding a place to belong. At his school for young mutants, Charles Xavier gives them a place where they’re safe to be themselves and form relationships with others who know about their abilities.
This article was originally published on August 23rd, 2017.