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  • The Princeton Review's College Rankings

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    Our 62 annual college rankings lists are entirely based on what students attending the schools in our Best Colleges book tell us about their colleges and their experiences at them via our student survey for this project. Each ranking list reports the top 20 colleges (of the 379 in the book) in a specific category.

    We tallied the rankings lists in the current edition, The Best 379 Colleges (published August 2014), based on the data from our surveys of 130,000 students at the 379 schools in the book.

    Our student survey has 80 questions in four sections. We ask students about 1) their school's academics/administration, 2) life at their college, 3) their fellow students, and 4) themselves. Students answer by selecting one of five answer choices that range across a grid or scale. The answer choice headers might range from "Excellent" to "Awful" or "Extremely" to "Not at All": some are percentages with ranges from "0–20%" to "81–100%." This answer choice five-point scale—which is called a Likert scale—is the most commonly used measurement for this type of survey research: a consensus-based assessment.

    We give each college a score for its students' answers to each survey question. Similar to a GPA, it is a metric that provides us with a numerical base to compare student opinions from college to college—apples to apples, as it were. Using these scores (which we compute out to several percentage points), we are able to tally our ranked lists. Schools that make it onto any of our 62 top 20 lists are those at which the surveyed students (as a group) indicated a very high consensus of opinion about that topic.

    Most of our ranking lists are based on students' answers to one survey question, such as "How do you rate your campus food?" Some, such as our "Best Classroom Experience" list, are based on students' answers to more than one question.

    Note: The Princeton Review does not rank the schools in the book overall, 1 to 379, hierarchically or in a single list category. The Princeton Review reports the top 20 schools (of the 379 in the book) for each of its 62 different ranking list categories—but does not report ranks beyond the top 20 in any category (i.e., schools ranked 21 to 379).

    Note: No ranking list reflects The Princeton Review's opinion of (or rating of) the colleges. A college's appearance on a ranking list in the book is entirely the result of what its own students surveyed by The Princeton Review reported about their campus experiences as well as how they rated various aspects of their college life.

    Note: The Princeton Review college rankings are different from The Princeton Review college ratings. Our college ratings are numerical scores on a scale of 60–99 that we give to all colleges in the book. We report those rating scores in eight categories, including Admissions Selectivity, Financial Aid, Fire Safety and Green. Unlike our 62 ranking lists, which are based entirely on our student surveys, our eight rating scores are based primarily on our surveys of administrators at the schools who annually provide us with institutional data we request about their colleges. (A few of our rating scores factor in some of our student survey data—e.g., our "Professors Accessible Rating" score is based on students' answers to our survey question that asks students to rate the accessibility of their professors on our five-point scale). Our college ratings scores appear in our school profiles in The Best 379 Colleges (as well as in our school profiles in our books The Best Value Colleges and The Complete Book of Colleges) and on our site. To learn more about our rating scores, go to: http://www.princetonreview.com/college/college-ratings.aspx

    The Princeton Review's 62 college ranking lists cover nine general areas: Academics/Administration, Quality of Life, Politics, Campus Life, Town Life, Social Life, Extracurriculars, Social Scene and Schools by Type. Here is a breakdown on each of those eight general areas: the titles of the ranking lists we report in each area, information about each ranking list basis and the student survey question(s) we use to report the list.

    Academics/Administration

    Best Classroom Experience
    Based on students' answers to several survey questions including how they rate their professors, their classroom and lab facilities, the amount of in-class time devoted to discussion, and the percentage of classes they attend.

    Students Study the Most
    Students Study the Least

    Both lists are based on students' answers to the survey question: "How many out-of-class hours do you spend studying each day?"

    Professors Get High Marks
    Professors Get Low Marks

    Both lists are based on students' answers to the survey question: "Are your instructors good teachers?"

    Most Accessible Professors
    Least Accessible Professors

    Both lists are based on students' answers to the survey question: "How accessible are your instructors outside the classroom?"

    Best Science Lab Facilities
    Based on students' answers to the survey question: "How do you rate your school's science lab facilities?"

    Most Popular Study Abroad Program
    Based on students' answers to the survey question: "How popular is studying abroad at your school?"

    Best Health Services
    Based on students' answers to the survey question: "How do you rate your school's campus health services?"

    Best Career Services
    Based on students' answers to the survey question: "How do you rate your school's career/job placement services?"

    Best College Library
    This Is a Library?

    Both lists are based on students' answers to the survey question: "How do you rate your school's library facilities?"

    Great Financial Aid
    Financial Aid Not So Great

    Both lists are based on students' answers to the survey question: "If you receive financial aid, how satisfied are you with your financial aid package?"

    Best-Run Colleges
    Administrators Get Low Marks

    Both lists are based on students' answers to the survey question: "Overall, how smoothly is your school run?"

    Their Students Love These Colleges
    Based on students' answers to the survey question: "Overall, how satisfied are you with your school?"

    Quality of Life

    Happiest Students
    Least Happy Students

    Both lists are based on students' answers to the survey question: "Overall, how happy are you?"

    Most Beautiful Campus
    Least Beautiful Campus

    Both lists are based on students' answers to the survey question: "How do you rate the beauty of your campus?"

    Easiest Campus to Get Around
    Based on students' assessments of ease of getting around their campus.

    Best Campus Food
    Is It Food?

    Both lists are based on students' answers to the survey question: "How do you rate the food on campus?"

    Best College Dorms
    Is That a Dorm?

    Both lists are based on students' answers to the survey question: "How do you rate the comfort of your campus dorms?"

    Best Quality of Life
    Based on students' answers to several survey questions, including how they rate the beauty, safety, and location of their campus; their campus dorms and food; their ease in getting around the campus and in dealing with the administration; the friendliness of fellow students and interaction among different student types on campus; and their overall happiness.

    Politics

    Most Conservative Students
    Most Liberal Students

    Both lists are based on students' answers to the survey question: "Politically, are you: left-wing, Democrat, middle, Republican, right-wing?"

    Most Politically Active Students
    Election? What Election?

    Both lists are based on students' answers to the survey question: "How popular are political/activist groups on your campus?"

    Demographics

    Lots of Race/Class Interaction
    Little Race/Class Interaction

    Both lists are based on students' answers to the survey question: "Do different types of students (black/white, rich/poor) interact frequently and easily at your school?"

    LGBT-Friendly
    LGBT-Unfriendly

    Both lists are based on students' answers to the survey question: "Do students, faculty, and administrators at your college treat all persons equally regardless of their sexual orientations and gender identity/expression?"

    Most Religious Students
    Least Religious Students

    Both lists are based on students' answers to the survey question: "How religious are students at your school?"

    Town Life

    College City Gets High Marks
    College City Gets Low Marks

    Both lists are based on students' answers to the survey question: "How do you rate the city or town where your school is located?"

    Town-Gown Relations Are Great
    Town-Gown Relations Are Strained

    Both lists are based on students' answers to the survey question: "How well do students at your college get along with members of the local community?"

    Extracurriculars

    Best Athletic Facilities
    Based on students' answers to the survey question: "How do you rate the recreational/athletic facilities at your school?"

    Students Pack the Stadiums
    There's a Game?

    Both lists are based on students' answers to the survey question: "How popular are intercollegiate sports at your school?"

    Everyone Plays Intramural Sports
    Nobody Plays Intramural Sports

    Based on students' answers to the survey question: "How popular are intramural sports at your school?"

    Best College Radio Station
    Based on students' answers to the survey question: "How popular is the college radio station?"

    Best College Newspaper
    Based on students' answers to the survey question: "How do you rate your campus newspaper?"

    Best College Theater
    Based on students' answers to the survey question: "How do you rate your college's theater productions?"

    Social Scene

    Lots of Greek Life
    Based on students' answers to the survey question: "How popular are fraternities/sororities at your school?"

    Lots of Beer
    Got Milk?

    Both lists are based on students' answers to the survey question: "How widely is beer used at your school?"

    Lots of Hard Liquor
    Scotch and Soda, Hold the Scotch

    Both lists are based on students' answers to the survey question: "How widely is hard liquor used at your school?"

    Reefer Madness
    Don't Inhale

    Both lists are based on students' answers to the survey question: "How widely is marijuana used at your school?"

    Schools by Type

    Party Schools
    Stone-Cold Sober Schools

    Both lists are based on students' answers to survey questions concerning the use of alcohol and drugs at their school, the number of hours they study each day outside of class time, and the popularity of fraternities/sororities at their school.
    Schools on the "Party Schools" list are those at which surveyed students' answers indicated a combination of low personal daily study hours (outside of class), high usages of alcohol and drugs on campus, and high popularity on campus of frats/sororities.
    Schools on the "Stone-Cold Sober Schools" list are those at which surveyed students' answers indicated a combination of high personal daily study hours (outside of class), low usages of alcohol and drugs on campus, and low popularity on campus of frats/sororities.

    Jock Schools
    Based on students' answers to survey questions concerning the popularity on campus of intercollegiate and intramural sports, and of fraternities/sororities.

    Future Rotarians and Daughters of the American Revolution
    Birkenstock-Wearing, Tree-Hugging, Clove-Smoking Vegetarians

    Both lists are based on students' answers to survey questions concerning their own political persuasion, the use of marijuana at the school, how religious students are at the school, the popularity of student government on campus, and the level of acceptance of the LGBT community on campus.

    Schools on the list "Future Rotarians and Daughters of the American Revolution" are those at which surveyed students' answers indicated their personal political persuasions to be very conservative, low levels of acceptance of the gay community on campus, high levels of popularity of student government on campus, and a very religious student body.

    Schools on the list "Birkenstock-Wearing, Tree-Hugging, Clove-Smoking Vegetarians" are those at which surveyed students' answers indicated their personal political persuasions to be very liberal, high levels of acceptance of the LGBT community on campus, low levels of popularity of student government on campus, and a student body that is not very religious.

     


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