The Princeton Review Reports Findings of Its Survey of College Administrators on Fall 2020, and Its 29th Annual College Rankings in "The Best 386 Colleges"

  • Rankings Reveal Top 20 Schools in 62 Categories Based on 143,000-Student Survey

NEW YORK, August 18, 2020 — According to a Princeton Review® survey that recently polled administrators at schools featured in the company's just-published book, The Best 386 Colleges, the top priority among college administrators for the upcoming school year is "social distancing: maintaining health and safety on campus." The issue administrators ranked as likely to be the greatest concern among students is "financial aid."

Conducted from July 1 to July 22, The Princeton Review Best 386 Colleges Administrator Survey featured 11 questions on the 2020 fall outlook in light of COVID-19–related issues. Topics included projected fall enrollment and reopening plans, and campus modifications due to COVID-19. Respondents were also asked to rank four current issues in priority order based on which they perceive will be the highest concern among administrators and highest concern among students.

Findings, based on surveys of administrators from 179 colleges (130 private and 49 public schools) who submitted their responses online between July 1 and July 22, reveal:

  • Nearly 4 of 10 respondents (39%) reported their projected fall enrollment is down from 2019, while 19% reported an increase; 42% said it is about the same.

  • Just over 1 in 8 respondents (14%) reported the percentage of in-state students in their school's incoming first-year class is higher than it was in 2019, while 6% reported it is lower than it was in 2019.

  • More than 9 out of 10 (93%) reported their schools were making COVID-19–related modifications in classrooms, labs, residence halls, and dining halls.

  • Two-thirds (67%) anticipated the majority of their fall courses would be principally hybrid (part in-person, part online) classes: 21% said in-person and 12% said online.

"COVID-19 has presented sobering challenges for school administrators and educators, as well as daunting decisions for students and their parents," said Robert Franek, Editor-in-Chief at The Princeton Review. "What impressed us in our administrator survey findings is the flexibility many colleges built into their reopening plans, especially those giving students options to study remotely or on campus with health and safety protocols in place. We will continue to report on new and changing developments as this unprecedented academic year progresses."   

A complete report on the survey findings and an infographic of selected findings posted today at video featuring Franek's analysis of the findings has posted here on the Princeton Review's YouTube channel. It is one of 80 videos in the company's COVID-19 Series on YouTube.

Today, The Princeton Review also reported its 29th annual college rankings. The 62 categories of ranking lists, each one naming 20 top colleges, are published in the company's flagship college guide, The Best 386 Colleges (2021 Edition, Penguin Random House, $24.99, August 18), and at where they can be perused for free.

The Princeton Review college rankings are entirely based on surveys of college students, who rate their schools on dozens of topics and report on their campus experiences exclusively for this project. The ranking lists reported today are based on surveys of 143,000 students at the 386 colleges in the book.

New this year is a ranking list category, "Best Counseling Services," that names the colleges at which students most highly rated their school's mental health counseling services. The #1 school is Virginia Tech. Its Cook Counseling Center is staffed by more than 40 mental health practitioners including doctors, therapists, and counselors.

On a related list, "Best Health Services," the #1 school is the U.S. Air Force Academy (CO). Its Academy Clinic—10th Medical Group provides healthcare services and support for the academy's 4,000 cadets as well as 30,000 beneficiaries.

On "Best Career Services," a list inspired by an email to The Princeton Review from a college dad, the #1 school is Bentley University (MA). Its Pulsifer Career Development Center works with students beginning in their first year on campus. Last year, Bentley students using the center's services had access to more than 2,000 full-time and internship opportunities.

On the "Great Financial Aid" list, based on students' satisfaction with their aid awards, the #1 school is Vanderbilt University (TN). The average grant Vanderbilt awarded to its undergrads with need last year was $52,200.

Some of the other 58 ranking list categories and the colleges that earned the #1 spots on them are:

  • "Best Professors" — Mount Holyoke College (MA)
  • "Best-Run Colleges" — Elon University (NC)
  • "Most Beautiful Campus" — University of Richmond (VA)
  • "Most Politically Active Students" — Pitzer College (CA)
  • "Most Conservative Students" — College of the Ozarks (MO)
  • "Most Liberal Students" — Sarah Lawrence College (NY)

A list of the schools in the #1 spots on the 62 ranking lists is viewable here:

"Since 1992, our goal in publishing college rankings—and our ongoing mission at The Princeton Review—is to help students find, get accepted to, and thrive at the colleges best for them," Franek noted. "We recommend every one of the 386 colleges in the new edition of our book as a ‘best’ choice, and we salute them for their exceptional offerings, especially during this extremely challenging academic year." A video featuring Franek reporting on the new edition of the book and colleges that earned #1 spots on high-interest ranking lists is posted here on the Princeton Review's YouTube channel.

The Princeton Review's 85-question survey asks students about their professors, administrators, school services, campus culture, and other facets of life at their schools. Information about the student survey is here. The company's methodology for the ranking lists uses a five-point Likert scale to convert qualitative student assessments into quantitative data for school-to-school comparisons. Information about the methodology is here.

The Best 386 Colleges is one of 150 Princeton Review books published by Penguin Random House.

The Princeton Review is not affiliated with Princeton University.

About The Princeton Review

The Princeton Review is a leading tutoring, test prep, and college admission services company. Every year, it helps millions of college- and graduate school–bound students achieve their education and career goals through online and in-person courses delivered by a network of more than 4,000 teachers and tutors, online resources, and its more than 150 print and digital books published by Penguin Random House. The company’s brand is one of the largest online tutoring services in the U.S. It comprises a community of thousands of tutors who have delivered more than 19 million one-to-one tutoring sessions. The Princeton Review is headquartered in New York, NY. The Princeton Review is not affiliated with Princeton University. For more information, visit and the company's Media Center. Follow the company on Twitter (@ThePrincetonRev) and Instagram (@theprincetonreview).

SOURCE: The Princeton Review

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CONTACT: Jeanne Krier, Director of Publicity for The Princeton Review, or Suzanne Podhurst, Vice President of Institutional Marketing and Corporate Communications, The Princeton Review/,

NOTE TO EDITORS: Available for interviews is Robert Franek, The Princeton Review's Editor-in-Chief and lead author of The Best 386 Colleges. He can discuss findings of the company's college administrator and student surveys, and comment on college issues and trends. Members of the media needing localized information about the rankings can access The Princeton Review "Best Colleges" lists in breakouts by state/city/college/rank. FAQs about the rankings and downloadable reporter resources are also available there.

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