The Best 384 Colleges Survey- 2019 Edition

The Princeton Review has conducted an annual survey of more than 138,000 that’s an average of 359 students per school. Over the years, they have surveyed anywhere from 26 men at Deep Springs College (100 percent of the student body) to over 1,000 collegians at such schools as Drexel University, University of Massachusetts Amherst, and the United States Military Academy. This survey was done to find out which college has the best academic curriculum, best faculty, best career services, best food, happiest students, and more.

Here are some of the frequently asked questions to help you know more about the survey.

Q1.  How did you choose the schools in The Best 384 Colleges: 2019 Edition? What was the survey format?

Ans. The survey has more than 80 questions across four categories. They had asked the students to tell about themselves, their school’s academics/administration, campus life and their fellow students’ attitudes and opinions. For the multiple-choice questions, survey respondents indicate their answers on a five-point grid. The headers for the grids vary, depending on the type of question asked. They may range from “Strongly Agree” to “Strongly Disagree” or from “Excellent” to “Poor.” In some cases, the range was in percentages, from “0–20%” to “81–100%.” Each college is given a score based on its students’ answers to each survey question. This enables them to compare student opinions from college to college—apples to apples, as it were—and on that basis, they tally the rankings. They also have several open-ended “comments” areas on the survey inviting students to tell them in their own words what they think of their schools, and they choose the most representative comments for inclusion in the narrative profiles.

They selected these colleges primarily based on the high opinion of their academics. They monitor colleges continuously and annually collected data on more than 2,000 schools. Each year they also visit scores of schools, and meet with or talk to hundreds of college administrators. They pay close attention to the feedback they get about the colleges from students, parents, educators and their own staff at Princeton Review locations across the country. They also value the opinions of their college counselors and advisors, particularly the 24-member National College Counselor Advisory Board, whom they thank in the book (you’ll find their names and affiliations on pages 843–844).

There are two key criteria that have influenced the selection of schools for this book since the first edition in 1992.

They work to have a wide representation of outstanding colleges in the book. These include public and private institutions from all parts of the country (they also have four schools in the book from outside the U.S.: two are in Canada and two in Ireland). There are small- and large-sized, traditional and nontraditional, highly selective and open-admission schools, plus some that are very expensive and others that are great bargains. You’ll also find schools with religious affiliations, historically black colleges and universities, men’s colleges, women’s colleges and some schools acclaimed for their unique focus on science, engineering, technology or other specialized fields.

Any college they consider adding to the guide must agree to allow them to conduct independent surveys of its students. What students say about their schools and their campus life is very important to them and to prospective applicants and their parents—especially those who are unable to visit the campuses. They share the opinions they gather from surveyed students in their narrative profiles about the schools. The student surveys (more than 138,000 of them!) are also the exclusive basis for the college rankings.

Q2. What’s new in this edition of the book?

Ans. They have added five colleges to this edition: Butler University, Drury University, Marlboro College, Michigan State University, and Oregon State University.

All of the data in the book is of course updated—they reach out directly to their contacts at the colleges to collect that info and have updated the statistics in each of the school profiles every year. They also give every college the opportunity to review, fact check and report any incorrect information in its profile before the book goes to press. The 62 “top 20” ranking lists are also of course newly compiled as are the Honor Roll lists of schools that received the highest possible score (99) in their rating tallies for Financial Aid, Fire Safety and Green. Their tallies of our eight rating scores for all 384 schools are also annually done.

Q3. My college is not on any of the ranking lists. Why?

Ans. This could be because the college isn’t among the 384 in the book. The ranking lists are based only on the surveys of students at the schools in the book. Or it could be that the school is in the book, but there wasn’t a high enough consensus of opinion among the students they surveyed in response to any of the survey questions for the school to make a list. However, on average, only about 15 percent of the colleges in the book aren’t on any of its 62 ranking lists.

Click here to view the complete list for 2019

Source: The Princeton Review

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