Ask the school how many students are unhappy with the quality of their coursework and the campus life. Wrong. No self-respecting school is going to answer no to either of these questions if they want you on their campus next year.
Ask the students when you go to Campus Visits. Remember what they taught you regarding a truncated sample in statistics? The Days on Campus guides have been hand-picked to interact with you. Coincidentally, those are exactly the students you will have access to when you visit the campus. Hence, you will have some positive bias in your sampling. Unless you already know students attending the school, you probably aren’t going to learn much using this technique.
Ask Google. Google the schools you are considering. Check for reports of suicides, protests/riots, and rapes. If you are seeing a lot of unrest (like the current protests at Dartmouth), you are probably not looking at happy freshmen. Check out College Prowler, a website that has a student from each school write a short description of the school. If this student representative says anything close to “this is where fun goes to die”, you can assume the freshmen are unhappy.
Ask the U.S. Department of Education. According to them, they have solved the mystery of freshman happiness using statistics and by defining the term happiness as willing to return for a second year of abuse. Are you happy? Well, let’s check their list and see who is the happiest. To shake things up a bit, these guys have created a list for Private Colleges and Universities as well as State Colleges and Universities. But they can’t fool us – we took the percentages they provided and compiled a list of the happiest Private and Public Colleges and Universities just for you. We’re providing the top 25 because, well, to be honest, the private university students are much happier than the public university students based on their results.
U. S. Colleges With Highest Freshmen Retention Rates
1. Princeton University 99.2%
2. Harvey Mudd College 99%
3. Yale University 99%
4. University of Pennsylvania 98.3%
5. University of Chicago 98.1%
6. Harvard University 98.1%
7. College of the Holy Cross 98.1%
8. Stanford University 98.1%
9. Carleton College 98.15
10. University of Notre Dame 98%
11. Wesleyan University 97.9%
12. California Institute of Technology 97.5%
13. Brown University 97.5%
14. Massachusetts Institute of Technology 97.3%
15. Columbia University 97.2%
16. Duke University 97.2%
17. Pomona College 97.2%
18. Williams College 97.1%
19. Tufts University 97%
20. University of Southern California 97%
21. UCLA 96.9%
22. Berkeley 96.8%
23. Vanderbilt University 96.6%
24. U.S. Naval Academy 96.5%
25. Washington University St. Louis 96.5%
Here is my take on their study. Hahahahaha. I'm pretty sure they think the world is incapable of recognizing a bad study when they see it. Do they not think freshman retention has more to do with whether you snagged a place in an elite school? Check out the US News and World Report's Top Public Colleges and compare them to the full list of the happiest public colleges as defined by freshman retention rates to see the similarities. Could weather impact retention? If you review the happiest public colleges and universities a ton of them are located in states with warm climates. Do they not realize their operationalized definition means all Utah schools must be unhappy because their Mormon students go to school briefly and then leave some time during the freshmen year to be missionaries for their church? Did no one think to maybe survey the freshmen and ask if they’re happy? This could easily be done when other data collection activities are happening. Every year organizations collect data on sexual activity, drug use, etc. A couple of questions targeted to ascertain freshman happiness could easily be tucked in one of those. Yes, it might be more expensive. But they might also get an truer idea of where freshmen are happy.
I asked a student or two who attend school at at least one of listed happy institutions to confirm or deny that they would be one of the schools with the happiest freshman. The responses failed to confirm delight and joy. Perhaps this is because it’s finals time or perhaps this is because the Department of Education’s assumption is beyond ridiculous. I’ll let you decide that. (Short answer would probably be read Campus Prowler.)
By: Sherry Thompson