Which Colleges Have The Happiest Students?

Maybe good weather isn’t as important as we thought. The happiest college students in the country are spread out everywhere, in a regions across the East, West, Midwest, and South.

Every year, The Princeton Review compiles a list of colleges with the happiest students. They send surveys to almost 400 schools across the country, asking the question, “Overall, how happy are you?” The results are all over the place for some schools, and pretty steady at others. Consistently at the top are Vanderbilt University, Rice University, Virginia Tech, Kansas State University, the University of California-Santa Barbara, Claremont McKenna College, and Clemson University.

In 2014, Vanderbilt released an article on their website addressing why their students are so happy. They chalked it up to five things: a good balance between academics and life outside the classroom, affordability, a non-competitive academic community, diversity, and the charms of the city of Nashville.

If personal happiness is important to you, and you’re in the process of picking a college, you may want to check out the schools on this list. Poets&Quants has compiled the most recent Princeton Review “Happiest Students” lists below.

Ranking The ‘Happiest Students’ From 2014 to 2017

2017 Rank & School 2017 Rank 2016 Rank 2015 Rank 2014 Rank
Rice University 1 9 6 2
Vanderbilt University 2 1 1 8
University of Dayton 3 6 NR NR
Auburn University 4 11 20 NR
University of Iowa 5 NR NR NR
Kansas State University 6 4 7 6
Virginia Tech 7 2 5 7
University of California – Santa Barbara 8 12 13 5
Colby College 9 19 NR NR
Claremont McKenna College 10 3 2 1
Clemson University 11 7 3 12
St. Mary’s College of Maryland 12 5 NR NR
The College of New Jersey 13 NR NR NR
University of Vermont 14 NR NR NR
University of Oklahoma 15 NR NR NR
The College of William & Mary 16 NR NR NR
Lake Forest College 17 NR NR NR
Rhodes College 18 NR NR NR
Worcester Polytechnic Institute 19 NR NR NR
Saint Anselm College 20 NR NR NR
Whitman College NR 8 11 13
Tulane University NR 10 4 4
Yale University NR 13 14 14
Washington State University NR 14 NR NR
Southern Methodist University NR 15 NR 17
Washington College NR 16 NR NR
Loyola Marymount University NR 17 NR 15
Middlebury College NR 18 NR NR
Gettysburg College NR 20 NR NR
Bowdoin College NR NR 8 10
Vassar College NR NR 9 NR
Hillsdale College NR NR 10 3
The College of Idaho NR NR 12 NR
Wheaton College (IL) NR NR 15 NR
Wesleyan University NR NR 16 16
Pomona College NR NR 17 NR
Washington University in St. Louis NR NR 18 9
Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering NR NR 19 NR
Thomas Aquinas College NR NR NR 11
Ohio University – Athens NR NR NR 18
University of Southern California NR NR NR 19
University of Mississippi NR NR NR 20

Source: The Princeton Review