What excites students about the new schools added to The Best 385 Colleges

Each year, we at The Princeton Review work diligently to update our flagship guidebook, The Best 385 Colleges. To ensure that college-bound students and their families have access to the most insightful information about the country’s leading universities, we continually monitor and collect data on over 2,000 schools. We also engage with college administrators, students, parents, educators, and our 32-member National College Advisory Board.

Based on exhaustive research, independent surveying of current students, and data analysis, we are thrilled to welcome six new schools to our 2020 edition. We spoke with three of the newly added schools—McDaniel College, Middle Tennessee State University and Elmira College—to dig a little deeper into their academic offerings and accomplishments.

Why do you think students are drawn to your institution?

Middle TN State: We’re located on a 515-acre campus in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, just 35 miles from downtown Nashville, in the heart of one of the fastest-growing and most energetic regions of the country. Our students get the best of both worlds—the resources of a large public university coupled with the personalized student services that you would expect at a small private college. In addition, we also have a 500-acre agricultural lab located just minutes from the primary campus for those studying agriculture and related disciplines. There are also numerous opportunities for recreation and entertainment when students want to take a break from their studies. Outdoor activities in this region abound in a beautiful and tranquil setting.

Elmira: Our campus is “postcard perfect.” Located on 55-acres right in the heart of Elmira (and in the Finger Lakes region of New York), students find our campus to be truly beautiful. They also greatly appreciate the fact that we’re a school with many time-honored traditions. These include Candlelight, which occurs the night before your freshman year and the night before you graduate. During this ceremony, everyone sits on the hill—by our campus “puddle”—and listens to class speakers, the president, etc. It’s a fabulous way to start and end your college experience. Undergrads have also come to love Mountain Day, which is a giant pep rally in front of the Admissions House. The entire EC student body comes together to chant and sing EC songs. If there is enough school spirit – the next day of class is cancelled and we have an entire day of Activities and BBQs. And of course we have the Holiday Banquet, an evening where students sit with their favorite administrator, coach or faculty member and enjoy a Thanksgiving style dinner.

McDaniel:  McDaniel is known for its caring community of committed mentors that help develop the unique potential in every student. Academics center on the McDaniel Plan, which gives McDaniel students the freedom to forge their own path, whether that is choosing more than one major or minor or even self-designing their own. And learning does not end in the classroom. With McDaniel’s 160-acre campus ideally located near Baltimore and Washington, D.C., students find boundless opportunities for internships, research, and jobs. The McDaniel Commitment also guarantees every student a tailored educational program that includes personal development, career exploration and at least two real-world, hands-on learning opportunities, such as service learning, credit-based internship, independent study, or study abroad, including at McDaniel’s European campus in Budapest, Hungary. What excites students about the new schools added to The Best 385 Colleges

What are your school’s most popular academic programs?

Middle TN State: MTSU is renowned for its aerospace, concrete industry management, and recording industry programs, which have gained national and international recognition for excellence. Importantly, many of our departments and majors incorporate one or more experiential learning component which allows our students to gain practical, real-world skills in addition to the theory learned in the classroom. Moreover, our undergraduate students have an opportunity to engage in a strong research program at levels usually reserved for graduate students at most universities. That popularity is served the many individuals on our faculty of nearly 1,000 professional educators who have business and industry experience directly related to their specialty.

Elmira: Elmira has several extremely popular majors: nursing, pre-health, business administration and education. When it comes to nursing, our students are privy to brand new classrooms designed just for them. They also have access to fantastic equipment like high fidelity simulation mannequins. Importantly, they begin clinical coursework sophomore year, working with one of the five local hospitals. Our pre-health students (biology, chemistry and biochemistry) enjoy a full science facility that includes a greenhouse, live animal lab, and organic chemistry lab. Our business administration program offers degrees in finance and economics as well as specializations in marketing and management. Every business student is also required to complete a career-related internship. That factor, combined with a strong career services office, leaves our students well primed to land a great job after graduation. Lastly, our education majors have ample opportunity to experience field work including a 6-week student teaching placement during junior year and a 12-week one during senior year. And, perhaps best of all, Elmira now offers a 4+1 Master’s program.

McDaniel: Among the most popular undergraduate programs at McDaniel are kinesiology, business administration, and biology. McDaniel is the only independent college or university in Maryland to offer the Kinesiology major, which prepares students for careers in allied health, such as physical therapists, physician assistants, and occupational therapists, as well as coaches, athletic trainers, physical education teachers, and personal trainers. McDaniel is also highly regarded for its education department. The college has successfully trained teachers and administrators for over 100 years and has a tradition of producing leading educators, including a National Teacher of the Year, plus many State Teachers of the Year. Students have the opportunity to major in elementary education or minor in secondary education with a major in a content area such as science, mathematics, English, or social studies. Several B.A./M.S. plans also allow qualified students to earn both a bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in just five years.         

What excites students about the new schools added to The Best 385 Colleges

What recent upgrades have you made to your campus?

Middle TN State: With over $1 billion dollars invested in new and remodeled infrastructure in the past 10 years, our students benefit from state-of-the-art facilities and resources. For example, our 250,000-square-foot science building, the centerpiece of the $147 million Science Corridor of Innovation, marked the largest project on a higher education campus approved by the state of Tennessee. We also have built a new College of Education building and a 211,000-square-foot Student Union. Moreover, our $39 million College of Behavioral and Health Sciences building is set to open in Fall 2020. It will house our psychology, criminal justice administration and social work programs and labs. Lastly, we’re about to start construction on a School of Concrete and Construction Management building.

Elmira: We recently partnered with Parkhurst Dining to offer our students a newly renovated dining hall. We also just completed a $500,000 renovation to our on-campus apartments delightfully dubbed the “Cottages.” And, because we care about the small details as well, we just designed a new athletics logo! 

McDaniel:  Over the past 10 years, construction and major renovations on campus have included the new multipurpose Kenneth R. Gill Stadium; WMC Alumni Hall, which houses the college’s theatre department; Englar Dining Hall; Hoover Library; and five residence halls. The McTeer-Zepp Plaza with its signature fountain was made possible by one of the first African-American graduates of the college as a tribute to a beloved professor who inspired generations of students to lead lives committed to service, activism, and peace. Completed in Fall 2018, the renovation of the Gill Physical Education Learning Center expanded and modernized classrooms and research facilities for the kinesiology program, including new human performance, neuromuscular performance, and human anatomy and physiology laboratories. Additionally, McDaniel is currently undergoing the renovation of the Decker College Center, the first overall renovation of the student center, with construction slated for completion for the 2020—2021 academic year.

Finally, what do you think are some of your school’s strongest assets?

Middle TN State: With a student/faculty ratio of 17:1, students at Middle Tennessee State receive a great deal of personal attention from their professors. They can also choose from more than 180 undergraduate programs of study and over 140 graduate programs. Just as critical, our student body consists of a remarkably diverse population with members from almost every state and 77 foreign countries, where we’ve established long-term relationships with many other universities. In fact, MTSU offers an extensive study abroad program which allows our students to gain new cultural experiences to extend and enhance their on-campus learning. Students often are able to develop customized programs to fit their specific needs and interests. Best of all, as a state-supported university, our students receive an excellent education for a fraction of the cost of a private school 

Elmira: Without question, our community. Students feel at home from the minute they step foot on campus. As an undergrad here, they get to know their professors not only within the classroom but through research opportunities and course options that take students overseas and across the U.S. We’re also always investing in new academic programs and experiences. For example, we recently added degrees in environmental studies (based on student demand) as well as legal studies. Additionally, we have begun partnering with Regent’s University (London) to offer 4+1 Master’s degrees in fashion & design, business & management, psychotherapy & psychology and film, media & performance. And we now have an affiliation with LECOM (Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine) and offer early acceptance programs for medical, pharmacy and dental school.


At McDaniel, we certainly believe that education extends far beyond the classroom. To that end, over one-third of our students study abroad in more than 50 countries, including McDaniel’s European campus in Budapest, Hungary. McDaniel Europe is a lively study-abroad center attracting students from colleges across the United States and our undergraduates benefit by being able to take their institutional financial aid package with them when they study there. 

Of course, McDaniel is firmly committed to access and affordability and the college has been nationally recognized for its efforts to recruit, enroll, and graduate high-need students. More than 90 percent of students receive some type of financial assistance as McDaniel invests over $40 million annually in grants and scholarships.    

Congrats to these fabulous institutions for their inclusion in The Best 385 Colleges! And be sure to check out their new profiles in the guidebook!