The history of higher education in America is older than the nation's founding.
The oldest known college to continuously exist on US soil is Harvard University, which dates back to 1636 - 140 years before the Declaration of Independence was signed in 1776. In fact, the first images of Harvard are so old, they predate the invention of photography; rather, they're sketchings of the buildings which stood then, many of which still stand today. AdvertisementSince Harvard's founding, many other postsecondary institutions have been established. Today, there are more than 4,000 degree-granting intuitions in the nation, according to US News & World Report.
Keep reading to learn which colleges are America's oldest and to see what they looked like centuries ago compared with how they look now.
10. Columbia University
Columbia is currently ranked as one of the top schools in the nation.
9. Washington and Lee University
As noted in an email to Business Insider, there are apparently no original photographs of Lincoln Hall, as it burned down in 1803 — years before the invention of photography.
8. Princeton University
Princeton University's oldest building, Nassau Hall, was even the temporary US Capitol in 1783, when Congress held meetings there.
7. University of Delaware
Today, the University of Delaware ranks within the top schools in the nation.
6. Moravian College
Moravian started off as the Bethlehem Female Seminary school, which was, at the time, the first and only boarding school for young women in the US.
5. University of Pennsylvania
In 1765, the University of Pennsylvania became the first US college to have a medical school.
4. Yale University
Yale was once located in Connecticut's Middlesex and Hartford counties, before moving to the current location in 1716, where it still stands today.
3. St. John's College
Originally known as King William's School, the school changed its name in 1784 and is now one of the top liberal arts schools in the nation.
2. The College of William and Mary
The College of William and Mary was also the first to receive a royal charter from Britain and is the oldest school in the South.
1. Harvard University
Harvard was named for John Harvard, the university's first benefactor.