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“Happy” College Campuses – Here’s the List of the Top 10

September 11, 2015 - Posted to Writing

Content top 10 happy college campuses

Top 10 universities with the happiest students

Every year the Princeton Review publishes its lists of college and universities across the U.S. that are distinguishable for a variety of things. One of those lists relates to campuses at which students are the happiest. Obviously, the criteria for judging this is somewhat subjective, but the Review has come up with some data that can be used, in order to take a more objective approach.

The Criteria

Surprisingly, the data that have been used in the listing of happy campuses does not involve interviewing or survey taking. This, in fact, would be an impossible task, given the sheer number of colleges and universities in the U.S. Instead, the researchers used the following indicators:

  1. The number of freshman who return for their sophomore year
  2. The number of freshman who remain through graduation. So, for the 2015 listing, for example, they look at the data relative to graduates who began as freshmen and stayed all the way through to graduation.
  3. Diversity of student population
  4. Participation in campus organizations and activities by per cent of students

The List

Both large and small campuses have made the top 10 list. As well, some schools that many may not even know have captured this “honor.” The list provided here goes from #1 - #10, as published for the 2014-2015 academic year.

#1 – Vanderbilt University

This school had the highest percentage of freshmen return for their sophomore years as well as the highest percentage of students who entered and remained through to graduate in May, 2015.

Vanderbilt is located in Nashville, Tennessee, founded by a $1 million grant from Cornelius Vanderbilt in 1873. It is a traditional campus in that it is centered in the heart of Nashville which large amounts of green space and old stately buildings. Students probably love the surrounding opportunities for and eclectic night life, and the combination “feel” of a small and large town combined.

#2 – Virginia Tech

Despite the horrific mass shooting that recently occurred on this campus, the students remain extremely loyal to this school. It is large – 24,000 students – but still seems to have a community atmosphere in which the campus itself functions like a small town. Students come to Virginia Tech and remain through to graduation, and the population is widely diverse.

#3 – Claremont McKenna, Claremont, CA

A campus of only 1300, this school has an extremely rigorous admissions policy and only accepts 11% of applicants. Its stellar academic program attracts and keep the “best and the brightest” from all over the U.S. and the world. These students form a tightly-knit community, and their rate of retention until graduation is among the highest in the nation. Its location and great climate certainly do not hurt.

#4 – Kansas State University, Manhattan, KS.

This is the only large Midwestern university to make the list. However, despite its student population of 20,500, the percent of retention of freshmen through to graduation is very large. The campus itself operates as a small Midwestern town, and that is probably the appeal, along with its lower tuition rates, given that it is part of the state university system.

#5 – St. Mary’s College of Maryland

The nickname of this school is, “The Honors College of Maryland,” and, indeed, it is really tough to gain admission. Because of its small student body and due to the significant opportunities for relationship-building between students and faculty, students who enter as freshman never leave. Its location, about 70 miles from D.C. probably does not hurt either.

#6 – University of Dayton, Dayton, Ohio

This is another small school of only 8500 students – a Catholic university that is, actually, the largest private college in Ohio. Its students apparently love it because they remain through graduation. The diversity of the population is another plus.

#7 – Clemson University, Clemson, S. Carolina

With a student population of 17,000, Clemson is a public institution that is known for its research facilities. This is probably a large factor in the decision of math/science/medical students to gain admissions and to remain throughout their undergraduate programs. A degree from Clemson is a ticket to admission to most renowned graduate programs. Because of the emphasis on scientific and medical research, many students entering Clemson do not have interest or skill in liberal arts coursework. Many use essay writers for hire as a solution so that they may focus on their real purposes.

#8 – Whitman College, Walla Walla Washington

Few have probably heard of Whitman College, and it only has 1500 students. An extremely rigorous academic curriculum means that graduates can go almost anywhere. With a 6:1 faculty/student ratio, it is obvious that there are strong collaborative relationships between students and professors – probably a significant factor in the school’s retention rate.

#9 – Rice University, Houston Texas

Only 4000 students attend this highly endowed private university. And the school only accepts about 15% of applicants each year. Most all students who enter as freshman remain through graduation. They love the atmosphere of collaboration and community.

#10 – Tulane University, New Orleans, Louisiana

Tulane has been recognized as a top school for research for years. Its student body numbesr about 8400 which is small for a research institution, but its students love being able to connect and collaborate with their professors. Once they are in, students don’t leave.

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