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Top 10 Happiest Colleges in the Country

Top 10 Happiest Colleges in the Country

What contributes to a student’s happiness at school?

By Kathryn Knight Randolph

June 10, 2015

What contributes to a student’s happiness at school? Great academic offerings, a variety of extracurricular activities or the other students? It’s hard to gauge exactly what makes college students “happy,” but one way of determining that is to look at the freshmen retention rate, meaning how many freshmen return to that particular campus the following year.

The Daily Beast put together the list of the happiest college campuses for the current school year. Consider adding these happy places to your college search list – or tell us why your current college makes you happy.

School statistics and student opinions pulled from each university’s website (figures listed are the most recent data, mostly from the 2014 — 2015 school year) as well as The Princeton Review.

10. University of Wisconsin – Madison

Location: Madison, Wisconsin
Undergraduate students: 31,289
Annual costs: $9,273 (in-state)
Average financial aid package: $9,890

According to The Princeton Review, students feel that there is a place for everyone on University of Wisconsin’s campus.

Learn more about University of Wisconsin – Madison.

9. University of California – Los Angeles

Location: Los Angeles, California
Undergraduate students: 29,633
Annual costs: $11,220 (in-state)
Average total financial aid package: $18,618

Students at The University of California – Los Angeles told The Princeton Review that UCLA has one of the most vibrant campus communities. Students push themselves both in the classroom and outside of it through involvement in various clubs and organizations.

Learn more about University of California – Los Angeles.

8. The University of Texas – Austin

Location: Austin, Texas
Undergraduate students: 39,523
Annual costs: $8,830 (in-state)
Average total financial aid package: $9,118

The Princeton Review reports that like the city of Austin itself, the student body is working to keep things weird. There is a niche for everyone on campus — from the sorority girls and guys to brainiacs to hipsters.

Learn more about University of Texas at Austin.

7. University of Southern California

Location: Los Angeles, California
Undergraduate students: 18,740
Annual costs: $23,781 (in-state)
Average total financial aid package: $30,656

According to The Princeton Review, USC students come from all backgrounds. It is very much a social campus with the city of Los Angeles as its playground.

Learn more about the University of Southern California.

6. Rice University

Location: Houston, Texas
Undergraduate students: 3,926
Annual costs: $41,560
Average total financial aid package: $34,954

Rice University students tell The Princeton Review that everyone on campus is unique and interesting — which is what makes Rice so unique and interesting. Students add that they are collaborative, friendly, accepting and social.

Learn more about Rice University.

5. Washington and Lee University

Location: Lexington, Virginia
Undergraduate students: 1,838
Annual costs: $42,425
Average financial aid package: $38,375

Learn more about Washington and Lee University.

4. Harvard University

Location: Cambridge, Massachusetts
Undergraduate students: 6,694
Annual costs: $40,418
Average total financial aid package: $44,430

A student at Harvard University told The Princeton Review, “Everyone is great for one reason or another.” As you can imagine, students say that Harvard is an “amazing irresistible hell” that pushes students to their intellectual limits.

Learn more about Harvard University.

3. Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Location: Cambridge, Massachusetts
Undergraduate students: 4,512
Annual costs: $44,720
Average financial aid package: $37,090

Students share with The Princeton Review that though all MIT students are smart, they are just as varied in their interests and hobbies as students at other college campuses.

Learn more about Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

2. Brown University

Location: Providence, Rhode Island
Undergraduate students: 6,548
Annual costs: $46,408
Average financial aid package: $40,917

Students told The Princeton Review that, “It’s a pretty unique crowd here, where athletes, preps, nerds, and everyone in between come together because they love learning for the sake of learning, and [they] love Brown equally as much.”

Learn more about Brown University.

1. Stanford University

Location: Stanford, California
Undergraduate students: 7,081
Annual costs: $57,815
Average aid award: $42,852

One student describes Stanford University, the happiest college in the country, as such: “The jock is doing better than you in chemistry, [and] the cute party animal is double-majoring and president of an activist group. I guess the thing that unites us is that we’re all nerds, even if it’s not the first thing you see.”

Learn more about Stanford University.


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