Top 10 Happiest Colleges in the Country

What contributes to a student’s happiness at school?

By Kathryn Knight Randolph

June 22, 2016

Top 10 Happiest Colleges in the Country

Happiness to a college student may come in the form of cancelled classes on Friday afternoon, free pizza just for coming to an informational session or cuddles from companion puppies during finals week. But being a college that’s known for having the happiest students is so much more than that.

From academics to extracurriculars to social life, these colleges know what it takes to make their students happy. Check out the top 10 happiest colleges according to The Princeton Review.

NOTE: Annual costs include tuition, fees and room and board.

10. Tulane University
Location: New Orleans, Louisiana
Undergraduate students: 8,339
Annual costs: $63,110
Average financial aid package: $29,417

Student at Tulane tell The Princeton Review that they are driven and ambitious but do an excellent job of balancing both academics and social life. Student also attribute their love of Tulane to its location in New Orleans.

Learn more about Tulane University.

9. Rice University
Location: Houston, Texas
Undergraduate students: 3,910
Annual costs: $56,703
Average total financial aid package: $36,025

Student at Rice attribute their happiness to the inclusivity at Rice. They say, “People are free to do whatever they want with whoever they want.” “On any given Friday night you might find various religious organizations meeting, a group of friends playing board games in the commons space, a crowd of people heading to a party, and a carload of students heading off-campus to see a movie.”

Learn more about Rice University.

8. Whitman College
Location: Walla Walla, Washington
Undergraduate students: 1,470
Annual costs: $59,100
Average total financial aid package: $30,721

Whitman’s proximity to the great outdoors provides a plethora of social options for students on and off campus. The campus and student body are also very small, providing a close-knit community feel.

Learn more about Whitman College.

7. Clemson University
Location: Clemson, South Carolina
Undergraduate students: 18,016
Annual costs: $23,908 (in-state)
Average total financial aid package: $8,946

Clemson has a very strong sense of tradition, which helps to unite students of all backgrounds and interests. Students can be found supporting their athletic teams, hiking the Clemson-owned trails in the mountains and studying abroad during their time there.

Learn more about Clemson University.

6. University of Dayton
Location: Dayton, Ohio
Undergraduate students: 8,665
Annual costs: $39,090
Average total financial aid package: $22,645

According to The Princeton Review, students feel as if UD is a second home and the student body, faculty and staff are like family. One student says that everyone is “committed to the pursuit of knowledge, the betterment of the community, and the quest for an education of the whole person.”

Learn more about University of Dayton.

5. St. Mary’s College of Maryland
Location: St. Mary’s City, Maryland
Undergraduate students: 1,746
Annual costs: $27,175 (in-state)
Average financial aid package: $9,771

St. Mary’s students claim that they’re never bored. Between open mic nights, movies and free boating on the water, there is plenty to do on campus. When asked about being part of the school community, many of the students refer to one another as “family.”

Learn more about St. Mary’s College of Maryland.

4. Kansas State University
Location: Manhattan, Kansas
Undergraduate students: 19,859
Annual costs: $18,636
Average total financial aid package: $4,298

Kansas State students tell The Princeton Review that the campus has a very inclusive feel, and a lot of that has to do with the investment made in freshmen students as well as the professors. One student shares that K-State’s professors commit beyond the classroom. Not only are they catalysts for my learning, they push me as a person and always give me the support I need in the most genuine way.”

Learn more about Kansas State University.

3. Claremont McKenna College
Location: Claremont, California
Undergraduate students: 1,301
Annual costs: $61,900
Average financial aid package: $40,438

Students share with The Princeton Review that Claremont McKenna has phenomenal academics, perfect weather and brilliant professors. One students confesses, “When you take both academics and quality of life into account, I can’t believe I almost went to an Ivy over this place.”

Learn more about Claremont McKenna College.

2. Virginia Tech University
Location: Blacksburg, Virginia
Undergraduate students: 25,384
Annual costs: $19,105
Average financial aid package: $6,809

Students at Virginia Tech attribute their happiness to the pride students have in their school. Many students tell The Princeton Review that most students wear Virginia Tech gear all day, every day. And there’s only one place you can find Hokies in the fall – Lane Stadium.

Learn more about Virginia Tech University.

1. Vanderbilt University
Location: Nashville, Tennessee
Undergraduate students: 6,883
Annual costs: $61,864
Average aid award: $40,267

Students at Vanderbilt University, the happiest university in the country this year, say that life as a student is split equally between academics and going out. Between the Greek system, university-sponsored events and the nightlife in Nashville, there is always something going on. Of the campus itself, students told The Princeton Review that the social life is “extremely fun and inclusive.” Students are supportive of one another. One student states that the “atmosphere of individual achievement instead of competition. The students are academic…but at the same time they are not ’showy’ about it.” They’re also involved elsewhere. Students say, “Everyone takes academics seriously, but everyone has other interests, too. No one is just a student. Everyone is involved in something.”

Learn more about Vanderbilt University.

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