Real talk: College should be fun. Sometimes, apparently, it is. Each year, The Princeton Review polls current students about a wide range of topics, one of which is happiness, with the result being their annual list of the colleges and universities with the happiest — and unhappiest — students. For its report, the Review approaches thousands of students at nearly 400 colleges, asking them how happy they are overall, then listing the top and bottom 20.
(See our story about the schools with the least happy students here.)
So if you’re looking for any sort of trends — like geographical location, size of school, or public versus private — forget it. As the Review itself states in explaining its methodology, “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.” The 2018 survey reveals the happiest college students come in all shapes and sizes, spanning the continental U.S. from Rhode Island to Oklahoma to California.
So who’s happiest? Students at the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia overwhelmingly say that the school makes them a “better version of themselves” and professors “love teaching there.” The school community is described as “extremely close-knit and supportive” — and students have even coined the acronym TWAMP (for Typical William & Mary Person) that’s used when “someone does something nerdy like drop a Star Wars reference or talk about how long they’ve spent studying.”
W&M JUMPS 15 SPOTS TO TAKE NO. 1
To be sure, most schools on the 2017 list have remained on the list this year, albeit with some shuffling. In 2017, Rice University, in Houston, Texas, rose nine spots to top the list with the country’s happiest students. This year, the top spot has been taken by William and Mary, which was 16th in 2017. Up next was the University of Oklahoma — that state’s flagship university — and rounding out the top five were Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tulane University in New Orleans, and Rice.
“When we stress ‘One Tribe, One Family,’ we aren’t just doing it for the postcards,” one W&M student said.
If you or someone you know is looking at colleges, and want to be join a community that’s already vibrant, healthy, and happy, check out the schools below, where we’ve listed the 2018 Princeton Review “Happiest Students” schools.