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Parental Pieds-A-Terre Near America's Top Universities

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For America's young crop of overachievers, spring brings an end to the nail-biting, teeth-gnashing, head-splitting process of applying to college. For students smitten with some of the country's most well-regarded schools, this can frequently mean disappointment—Harvard let in just 7 percent of applicants in 2009. Even those dismal numbers mean a few thousand brainy students will be packing their bags for one of the top five schools in the fall, leaving their adoring parents to wallow in empty nests. But what if those parents just can't let go of their little bundle of joy? That's where we come in, picking out prime pads for the most over-involved of parents at the top five schools in the country, according to the venerable yet controversial US News and World Report rankings.

At #5, it's West Coast powerhouse Stanford University and the surrounding neighborhoods of Palo Alto, Calif., where this 1922 Spanish-style home (above) was recently renovated. Now on the market for $3.3M, the 3,250-square-foot hacienda is just a few blocks from campus in the neighborhood of Old Palo Alto. Plus, the guest house out back means the little bundle of brains can stay close to home without living under the same roof.

? #4 in the US News rankings is Columbia University, located in the Morningside Heights neighborhood of NYC. On the western edge of campus, Riverside Drive plays host to many dignified pre-war co-ops, including 440 Riverside Drive. The substantial porte-cochere entrance and marble-lined lobby ensure this building isn't confused with nearby dormitories, while, for $1.22M, the apartment offers two bedrooms and views through the trees to the Hudson River.

? Another Ivy is up next. At #3, it's Yale University in New Haven, Conn. Situated just north of campus in the Edgehill/St. Ronan neighborhood, this nine-bedroom mansion was built for local department store titan Adolph Mendel in 1913. Almost a hundred years since, the expansive stucco spread is asking $2.25M.

? Sliding in at #2 is the former College of New Jersey, now known as Princeton University. Purchasing this 1922 Colonial-style manse would earn doting parents a little campus cred: it was designed by Sherley W. Morgan, former head of Princeton's School of Architecture. Morgan's design includes a two-story foyer, stone fireplaces, and plenty of space to entertain the pride-and-joy's professors.

· Last on our list and #1 in the rankings is a little school in Cambridge, Mass. called Harvard. Just across the Charles River from Boston, Cambridge is host to a great number of impressive homes, particularly on a vaunted stretch known as Professor's Row. That's where we found this recently renovated stucco five-bedroom, all polished up for sale. Harvard's professors must be particularly well paid, however, as this 6,200-square-foot manse runs $4.25M.
· National University Rankings [US News]
· 218 Lowell Avenue, Palo Alto [Alain Pinel Realty]
· 440 Riverside Drive, New York [BHS]
· 352 Saint Ronan Street, New Haven [Wareck Real Estate]
· 140 Hodge Road, Princeton [Sotheby's]
· 63 Francis Avenue, Cambridge [Hammond Real Estate]