Why Some Colleges Are Haunted

Colgate Hall, Colby-Sawyer College, New London, NHMost students at colleges and universities are too busy to make up stories about ghosts and hauntings in their dorms and school buildings.

So why do their stories get a raised eyebrow? They shouldn’t. In fact, colleges should account for more spectral activity than most settings.

Consider the ingredients:


Poltergeist events most often occur near someone between ages eight and 25. These people do not usually know that a ghost is using them as an energy source. Most poltergeist cases involve a young woman, often someone described as “emotional” or “colorful,” and usually ages 14 through 19.

Colleges are home to many people who could be used as the “focus” or “source” of poltergeist energy.

It’s possible that, with such a rich resource bank, any college poltergeist could use multiple people as a source of energy.


Colleges are ideal settings for what we call “residual energy hauntings.” Residual energy hauntings are like DVDs being played over and over again, and do not involve an actual ghostly presence. Witnesses may experience a wide range of manifestations, but these events are on a loop, not created by some spectral entity.

Residual energy hauntings probably account for the majority of “eerie feelings” people experience in a setting that otherwise seems fine.

This kind of haunting occurs when the physical surroundings have been “imprinted” with the intense emotions of events which once took place there. Battlefields are most famous for this. However, anyone who’s spent time at college knows that, with dates, exams, money problems, and roommate troubles, emotions are as high (and probably more tightly-strung) on any college campus, as any other place on earth.


Due to the nature of the college experience, where many kids are in a high-pressure setting and may not have support systems, there are tragedies. Accidents occur. People do (or try) stupid things. Sometimes this results in death, which is heartbreaking for everyone involved. We have never heard of a ghost who died young, even someone who committed suicide, who did not regret what had happened. (“Regret” is too mild a word. Anguish comes closer to it.)

Suicide victims would change the past, if they could. There is no such thing as a ghost who killed himself/herself, who says they’re okay with what they did.

Every one of them is horrified by their choices, and — if they’d realized what they were doing — every one of them would choose something other than suicide.

That’s what many of them are trying to do, whether the death was accidental or not: Deny what has happened. They want to change the past so they can return to the living, and live the lives they’d dreamed of.


Sometimes “ghost stories” are used by people who are eager for attention. The story may be true, it may be false, or it may be embellished. The result is the same: The story brings attention to the storyteller. That attention — and energy — contributes to the manifestations. It’s that simple. (For more information, I recommend an out-of-print book, Conjuring Up Philip.)

These are just a few reasons why colleges and universities are among the most likely places to encounter ghosts.

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