The nation's happiest students with the best quality of life are at Rice University, according to the 2012 edition of the Princeton Review's "The Best 376 Colleges." And that's according to the students.
For the third year in a row, the students surveyed for the annual college guide ranked Rice No. 1 for best quality of life. The new edition also ranks Rice No. 1 for happiest students.
The rankings are based on a survey of 122,000 students at 376 schools during 2010-11 and the previous two school years. An average of 325 students at each school participated in the survey. Only about 15 percent of America's 2,500 four-year colleges, plus three colleges outside the U.S., are profiled in the book.
"I was really delighted to learn that the Princeton Review has ranked Rice No. 1 for both the quality of life and student happiness," President David Leebron said. "There's nothing more important to a university than its success with its students.
Leebron cited campus beauty, opportunities to engage with the city of Houston, southern hospitality and new facilities on campus as some of the factors that contributed to Rice's high rankings. "But at the end of the day, it's really about how people treat each other -- how our students treat each other, the way our staff treats the students and the way the faculty regards the students," he said. "All those really are the core of the quality of life for our students."
"The most amazing balance of serious education and an unbelievably rewarding personal life"The new guide ranks colleges in 62 categories and publishes the top 20 schools in each. In addition to topping the lists for best quality of life and happiest students, Rice is ranked No. 5 in two categories – "School Runs Like Butter" and "Town and Gown Relations"; No. 6 for "Lots of Race/Class Interaction"; No. 8 for "Best Athletic Facilities"; No. 13 for "Great Financial Aid"; and No. 18 for "Best Health Services."
Rice's top spot on the "Best Quality of Life" list is based on responses from students to questions about food, dorm comfort, campus beauty, ease of getting around campus, location, campus safety, interaction among different types of students on campus, satisfaction with the school administration, and friendliness and happiness of the students.
According to a student quoted in the guide, Rice University offers "the most amazing balance of serious education and an unbelievably rewarding personal life." Most of the undergraduates surveyed note that Rice's residential colleges, which are described as a "Hogwarts style" housing system a la Harry Potter, are "the key to life at Rice." Another student notes that the academic advising is "amazing" and that professors invite students to join them for coffee at the student center or to visit them during office hours to discuss class material, research, papers or "even what's going on in our lives." Other students rave about "strong research opportunities for undergraduate students," opportunities to do volunteer work around Houston and the "fantastic" weather.
In addition to ranking No. 1 for best quality of life for the past three years in the Princeton guide, Rice was No. 1 in this category in the 2007 edition, No. 2 in 2009 and No. 6 in 2008.
Leebron said that Rice's consistently high ranking in this category shows "there are some really enduring things about Rice University."
"We have a wonderful culture of care at Rice where our students take care of each other," Dean of Undergraduates John Hutchinson added. "They watch out for each other, they help each other with advising, with personal support and lots of interaction socially and culturally. We have a community unlike any other university."
To read more about the rankings, visit http://www.princetonreview.com/college/college-rankings.aspx.
Earlier this year the Princeton Review named Rice one of the nation's best-value private schools based on quality of education and affordability.