Top 10 Happiest Colleges in the Country
What contributes to a student’s happiness at school?
By Kathryn Knight Randolph
March 04, 2018
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. Clemson University
Location: Clemson, South Carolina
Undergraduate students: 18,016
Annual costs: $23,852 (in-state) and $43,734 (out-of-state)
Average financial aid package: $8,946
Set in the picturesque South, Clemson attracts students looking for academic rigor and a strong sense of community. It’s also one of the most selective public research universities in the country. Students spend their Saturdays in “Death Valley” cheering on their beloved Clemson Tigers along with 80,000 other fans.
Learn more about Clemson University.
9. University of Iowa
Location: Iowa City, Iowa
Undergraduate students: 24,476
Annual costs: $19,415 (in-state) and $41,059
Average financial aid package: $7,399
Students at the University of Iowa tell The Princeton Review that though the college is big, it has a small college feel. The student body describes one another as friendly, hard-working and studious. Like most Big Ten schools, Saturdays are dedicated to cheering on the Buckeyes at the football stadium.
Learn more about University of Iowa.
8. Saint Anselm College
Location: Manchester, New Hampshire
Undergraduate students: 1,930
Annual costs: $52,560
Average financial aid package: $22,330
Saint Anselm boasts over 60 student organizations and 20 varsity athletic teams. The campus also houses a performing arts center and art gallery. With that, there are plenty of ways for students to get involved on the campus community. It’s also minutes from downtown Manchester, which has great restaurants, coffee shops, a theater, a museum and several sporting venues.
Learn more about Saint Anselm College.
7. Colby College
Location: Waterville, Maine
Undergraduate students: 1,879
Annual costs: $66,780
Average financial aid package: $43,906
Students tell The Princeton Review that the school is supportive of its students, providing all of the necessary resources to thrive academically and socially. Professors push students out of their comfort zone but in a positive way – through hands-on learning and research. Finally, a reliable alumni network ensures that students feel connected after graduation.
Learn more about Colby College.
6. Kansas State University
Location: Manhattan, Kansas
Undergraduate students: 19,472
Annual costs: $19,024 (in-state) and $33,925 (out-of-state)
Average total financial aid package: $4,329
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.
5. College of William and Mary
Location: Williamsburg, Virginia
Undergraduate students: 6,276
Annual costs: $37,387 (in-state) and $59,091 (out-of-state)
Average financial aid package: $15,892
Known as a “Public Ivy,” William and Mary is said to host a campus community that is academically quick and dynamic. Students told The Princeton Review that the community is “extremely close knit and supportive,” and "everyone has something, usually obscure, that they’re extremely passionate about.”
Learn more about the College of William and Mary.
4. Tulane University
Location: New Orleans, Louisiana
Undergraduate students: 6,377
Annual costs: $68,130
Average financial aid package: $33,003
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.
3. University of Oklahoma
Location: Norman, Oklahoma
Undergraduate students: 22,436
Annual costs: $19,651 (in-state) and $35,032
Average total financial aid package: $5,802
Students spend weekends in the fall cheering on the university football team, and when there’s not an athletic event, there’s something else to keep students entertained on campus. They also say that the student body is very considerate, caring deeply about one another as well as the community surrounding the campus as they devote an entire weekend to service projects and opportunities around Norman.
Learn more about the University of Oklahoma.
2. Rice University
Location: Houston, Texas
Undergraduate students: 3,893
Annual costs: $58,468
Average total financial aid package: $36,772
Students 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.
1. Vanderbilt University
Location: Nashville, Tennessee
Undergraduate students: 6,871
Annual costs: $61,866
Average aid award: $41,331
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 there is an “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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