The Best 377 Colleges, 2013 Edition

The Best 377 Colleges, 2013 Edition

by Princeton Review


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What makes The Best 377 Colleges the most popular college guide?

*DIRECT QUOTES FROM STUDENTS that give insight into each school's unique character, classes, financial aid, social scenes, and more

*ONE-OF-A-KIND RANKING LISTS that reveal the top 20 colleges in 62 categories based on how students rated their school's dorms, professors, food, athletic facilities, and financial aid

*DETAILED ADMISSIONS INFORMATION that gives tuition, application criteria, deadlines, student to faculty ratios, graduation rates, and the most popular majors

*BONUS FEATURES like the "150 Best Value Colleges List," plus unique ratings with all 377 schools scored on Financial Aid, Quality of Life, Fire Safety, Green Ratings, and more!

Written for any student or parent mystified by the confusing college admissions process, The Best 377 Colleges provides the facts and information needed to make a smart decision about which of the country's best schools to consider.

What the media is saying about The Best 377 Colleges from The Princeton Review: 

“The offbeat indexes, along with the chattily written descriptions of each school, provide a colorful picture of each campus.”–The New York Times

“The most efficient of the college guidebooks. Has entertaining profiles larded with quotes from students.”–Rolling Stone

“A great book…it’s a bargain.” –CNN

“Our favorite college guidebook.” –Seventeen

“Provides the kind of feedback students would get from other students in a campus visit.” –USA Today

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780307944870
Publisher: Random House Children's Books
Publication date: 08/21/2012
Series: College Admissions Guides Series
Pages: 864
Product dimensions: 7.76(w) x 10.08(h) x 1.88(d)

About the Author

The experts at The Princeton Review have been helping students, parents, and educators achieve the best results at every stage of the education process since 1981. The Princeton Review has helped millions succeed on standardized tests, and also provides expert advice and instruction to help parents, teachers, students, and schools navigate the complexities of school admissions. They offer classroom courses in 41 states and 21 countries, online and school-based courses, and one-to-one and small group tutoring.

Read an Excerpt

Best Classroom Experience
Based on students' answers to several survey questions concerning how they rate their professors, their classroom/lab facilities, the amount of classes they attend, and their in-class discussion.

Students Study the Most / Students Study the Least
Both lists are based on students' answers to the survey question: "How many out-of-class hours do you spend studying each day?"

Professors Get High Marks/ Professors Get Low Marks
Both lists are based on students' answers to the survey question: "How do you rate your instructors as teachers?"

Most Accessible Professors/ Least Accessible Professors
Both lists are based on students' answers to the survey question: "How accessible are your instructors outside the classroom?"

Class Discussions Encouraged
Based on students' answers to the survey question: "How much of your overall class time is devoted to discussion as opposed to lectures?"

Most Popular Study Abroad Programs
Based on students' answers to the survey question, "How popular is studying abroad at your school?"

Best Health Services
Based on students' answers to the survey question: "How do you rate your school's health center services?"

Best Career Services
Based on students' answers to the survey question: "How do you rate your school's career/job placement services?"

Best College Library / This is a Library?
Both lists are based on students' answers to the survey question: "How do you rate your school's library facilities?"

Great Financial Aid / Financial Aid Not So Great
Both lists are based on students' answers to the survey question: "If you receive financial aid, how satisfied are you with your financial aid package?"

Best Run Colleges/ Administrators Get Low Marks
Both lists are based on students' answers to the survey question: "Overall, how smoothly is your school run?"

Happiest Students/ Least Happy Students
Both lists are based on students' answers to the survey question: "Overall, how happy are you?"

Their Students Love These Colleges
Based on students' answers to the survey question: "Overall, how satisfied are you with your school?"

Most Beautiful Campus/ Least Beautiful Campus
Both lists are based on students' answers to the survey question: "How do you rate the beauty of your campus?"

Easiest Campus to Get Around
Based on students' answers to the survey question, "How do you rate the ease of getting around your campus?"

Best Campus Food / Is it Food?
Both lists are based on students' answers to the survey question: "How do you rate the food on campus?"

Best College Dorms/ Is That a Dorm?
Both lists are based on students' answers to the survey question: "How do you rate the comfort of your campus dorms?"

Best Quality of Life
Based on students' answers to several survey questions including how they rate: the beauty, safety, and location of their campus, their campus dorms and food, their ease in getting around the campus and in dealing with the administration, the friendliness of fellow students and interaction among different student types on campus, and their overall happiness.

Most Conservative Students/ Most Liberal Students
Both lists are based on students' answers to the survey question: "Politically, are you: Left-wing, Democrat, Middle, Republican, Right-wing?"

Most Politically Active Students/ Election? What election?
Both lists are based on students' answers to the survey question: "How popular are political/activist groups on your campus?"

Lots of Race/Class Interaction/ Little Race/Class Interaction
Both lists are based on students' answers to a survey question asking them to rate the level of their agreement with the statement: "Different types of students (black/white, rich/poor) interact frequently and easily at my school."

LGBT-Friendly/ LGBT-Unfriendly
Both lists are based on students' answers to a survey question asking them to rate the level of their agreement/disagreement with the statement: "Students, faculty, and administrators at my school treat all persons equally regardless of their sexual orientation and gender identity/expression."

Most Religious Students/ Least Religious Students
Both lists are based on students' answers to the survey question: "How religious are students at your school?"

College City Gets High Marks/ College City Gets Low Marks
Both lists are based on students' answers to a survey question asking them to rate the city or town in which their school is located.

Town-Gown Relations are Great/ Town-Gown Relations are Strained
Both lists are based on students' answers to the survey question: "How well do students at your college get along well with members of the local community?"

Best Athletic Facilities
Based on students' answers to the survey question: "How do you rate the recreational/athletic facilities at your school? "

Students Pack the Stadiums/ There's a Game?
Both lists are based on students' answers to the survey question: "How popular are intercollegiate sports at your school?"

Everyone Plays Intramural Sports/ Nobody Plays Intramural Sports
Based on students' answers to the survey question: "How popular are intramural sports at your school? "

Best College Radio Station
Based on students' answers to the survey question: "How popular is the college radio station?"

Best College Newspaper
Based on students' answers to the survey question: "How do you rate your campus newspaper? "

Best College Theater
Based on students' answers to the survey question: "How do you rate your college's theater productions?"

Lots of Greek Life
Based on students' answers to the survey question: "How popular are fraternities/sororities at your school?"

Lots of Beer/ Got Milk?
Both lists are based on students' answers to the survey question: "How widely is beer used at your school?"

Lots of Hard Liquor/ Scotch and Soda, Hold the Scotch
Both lists are based on students' answers to the survey question: "How widely is hard liquor used at your school?"

Reefer Madness/ Don't Inhale
Both lists are based on students' answers to the survey question: "How widely is marijuana used at your school?"

Party Schools/ Stone-Cold Sober Schools
Both lists are based on students' answers to survey questions concerning: the use of alcohol and drugs at their school, the number of hours they study each day outside of class time, and the popularity of fraternities/sororities at their school.

Jock Schools
Based on students' answers to survey questions concerning the popularity on campus of intercollegiate sports, intramural sports, and fraternities/sororities.

Future Rotarians and Daughters of the American Revolution/ Birkenstock-Wearing, Tree Hugging, Clove-Smoking Vegetarians
Both lists are based on students' answers to survey questions concerning: their own political persuasion, the use of marijuana at the school, how religious students are at the school, the popularity of student government on campus, and the level of acceptance of the LGBT community on campus.


Read an interview with Robert Franek, Author of The Princeton Review's The Best 377 Colleges, 2013 Edition and his top 10 tips.

What is The Princeton Review and how long has it been creating this book?
The Princeton Review is an education services company. It was founded in 1981 to help students prepare for the SAT. Now we are known for our test-prep courses for scores of tests, plus our books, website, tutoring, and online programs. Over the years we have helped millions of students research, apply to, get into, and pay for college and graduate school.

We've published the annual Best Colleges book since 1992. The Best 377 Colleges, 2013 Edition is our 21st edition. It is one of the most popular of our more than 150 Princeton Review books published by Random House. What makes it different from all other college guides? It's based on our college student survey—the largest and longest ongoing survey of its kind. This edition includes input from 122,000 students we surveyed at the 377 schools in this book, whom we asked to candidly rate their schools and report on their experiences at them.

Why 377 colleges?
"The Best 375 Colleges" might be a catchier title—but we don't start with a set number, then add or subtract schools to fit it. The number of colleges we recommend in the book each year is based on how many schools have met our criteria for "best."

How do you pick the colleges for the book?
There are three factors that determine our choices.

First, we choose schools based our opinion of their academics. For that, we review data that we annually collect from about 2,000 schools via an administrator survey that has more than 80 questions about the institution, academic offerings, faculty, and student body. We also get reports from our staff from across the country (who visit hundreds of colleges each year), our 30-member National College Counselor Advisory Board (we publish their names and affiliations in the book), and independent college counselors.

Second, we consider what students we've surveyed tell us about their experiences at these schools. That matters a lot to us, as it would to applicants visiting a school and even more so to those that can't visit a campus.

Third, we work to keep a wide representation of colleges in the book by region, size, character, and type. Only about 15% of the nation's four-year colleges are in it.

So, which college is best overall?
We don't think one school is best—in all subjects, for all majors, for all students—overall. We don't rank the colleges overall in this book and we don't believe hierarchical ranking lists, especially those that rank schools for their academics, are useful. In fact, we think such rankings are counterproductive, as every school under the #1 spot must be considered "lesser" academically, and so on down the line—and that's just not so.

We believe all 377 schools in this book are academically outstanding. But they differ widely—as do the outstanding students who attend them. Finding an academically great college is not hard to do. America has more of the world's best colleges than any other country. What's hard is finding the academically outstanding college that will be the best school for you, based on your education interests, career goals, and budget, not to mention the school's campus culture, location, size, and program offerings.

What are your ranking lists based on?
Our 62 rankings lists are entirely based on what students at the schools tell us about their colleges and their experiences at them via our student survey. Each list reports the top 20 colleges (of the 377 in the book) in a specific category.

What does your student survey cover?
Our survey has 80 questions in four sections. We ask students about: 1) their school's academics/administration; 2) life at their college; 3) their fellow students; and 4) themselves. For most of the questions, students answer by choosing one of five answer choices that range across a grid or scale. The five choice headers might range from "Excellent"" to "Awful," or "Extremely" to "Not at All." Some are percentages with ranges from "0-20%" to "81-100%." The five-point grid—which is called a Likert scale—is the most commonly used measurement for this type of survey research: consensus-based assessment. Statisticians consider it most accurate as it presents equal amounts of positive or negative positions.

How do you use this data to tally the lists?
We give each college a score for its students' answers to each survey question. Similar to a GPA, this score is a metric that provides us with a numerical base to compare student opinions from college to college—apples to apples, as it were. We use those scores (which we tally out to several percentage points) to compile the ranked lists. Schools that make it onto any of our 62 top 20 lists are those at which the surveyed students (as a group) indicated a very high consensus of opinion about that topic.

What's new in this year's edition of the book?
We added six colleges to this edition: Allegheny College (Meadville, PA), Becker College (Worcester, MA), City University of New York—City College (New York, NY), University of Hawaii—Manoa, University of Tampa (FL), and Virginia Wesleyan College (Virginia Beach, VA).

We added a new ranking list category, "Their Students Love These Colleges." It reports the 20 colleges in the book at which students expressed the highest overall satisfaction with their college on our student survey. Kudos to our #1 school on this new list—Claremont McKenna College.

We also expanded one section, "Great Schools for the Most Popular Majors," to identify the top schools for 20 majors instead of 15. The five majors we added to this section are: Agriculture, Environmental Studies, Health Services, Mathematics, and Nursing.

Do you have information in the book about how to pay for college?
Yes. We have six financial aid resources in the book that no other college guide has:

1) "Financial Aid Rating" scores for all 377 schools.
Our scores measure how generous the schools are with their aid and how satisfied the aid recipients are with that aid they get. We tallied these scores for a total of 612 schools this year, which we profile on our site,

2) "150 Best Value Colleges for 2012" list.
Our list names 75 public and 75 private colleges that we selected as best values in February 2012, based on 30 criteria we assessed covering their academics, cost, and financial aid. There are profiles for all schools that met the criteria for inclusion, and we profile the full list of schools in our book The Best Value Colleges: The 150 Best-Buy Schools and What It Takes To Get In. The list is also posted on our site and in an interactive feature developed by USA TODAY (with whom we teamed up in reporting this annual list for the past four years).

3) "Great Financial Aid" ranking list.
This list tells you the 20 schools in the book at which students we surveyed were happiest with their financial aid. We also have a corollary list, "Financial Aid Not So Great," that names schools at which students were the least satisfied with their financial aid.

4) "Financial Aid Rating Honor Roll."
This edition's list salutes 10 colleges that got our highest possible "Financial Aid Rating" score: 99.

5) Our "Tuition-Free Schools Honor Roll."
On this, we salute nine schools in the book that are entirely tuition free.

6) Advice:
A special section titled "26 Tips for Getting Scholarships, Grants, and Financial Aid, and for Paying Less for College" is authored by Kalman A. Chany, an expert on college funding. Kal is author of our annual Paying for College Without Going Broke book, and is widely sourced by media on this subject. With a foreword by Bill Clinton, Kal's book is the only annually updated guide on college financial aid that has line-by-line advice on completing the upcoming school year's FAFSA (the Free Application for Federal Student Aid form that all aid applicants must complete) to one's best advantage.

Which ranking list categories do students follow the most?
Students are interested in our lists that report on campus amenities and campus culture. Schools are places they'll spend four years of their life (hopefully), so naturally they're interested in our "Best Campus Food" and "Best College Dorms" lists. Next, they care about the student body: Will they fit in? They look at our lists reflecting campus political leanings ("Most Liberal/Most Conservative Students"), religion ("Most/Least Religious Students"), race/class relations ("Lots of/Little Race/Class Interaction") and LGBT acceptance ("LGBT-Friendly/Unfriendly").

What is the difference between the college rankings and the college ratings in your book?
That's a great question as people often confuse the two. Simply put, our rankings are lists; our ratings are scores.

Our college rankings are lists of the top 20 ranking schools in 62 categories. They are based entirely on our surveys of students attending the schools in our annual Best Colleges book. The survey asks students to rate their own schools on dozens of topics and report on their campus experiences at them. Some of our ranking lists include: "Professors Get High Marks," "Most Beautiful Campus," and "Best Health Services."

Our college ratings are scores on a scale of 60 to 99, which we tally for all schools in the book and report in eight categories that appear on college profiles and on our website. The ratings are based primarily on institutional data we collect from the schools' administrators. Our eight rating categories include Academics, Admissions Selectivity, Financial Aid, Fire Safety, and Green (environmental awareness).

Do your rankings draw interest beyond the annual publication of the book?
Yes, college administrators cite their school's appearances on our lists, and their school's inclusions in our books in speeches, press releases, and websites. Well-known figures in fields from politics to entertainment also reference our rankings.

Former President Bill Clinton mentioned our rankings at speech in Chicago at DePaul University in August 2000 where he saluted the school for being #1 on our Princeton Review "Happiest Students" list. We are also gratified that he wrote the foreword to our Paying for College without Going Broke book.

Former U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings, in a July 2005 interview in Time magazine, said that she was checking our Princeton Review rankings because she had a daughter applying to college that year.

Our rankings have also been the subject of quiz questions on national shows (National Public Radio's Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me, and Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?), syndicated comic strips (Doonesburyâ and Tank McNamaraâ), newspaper editorials (a USA TODAY editorial writer called our reporting of some of our ranking lists "a public service"), and mentions in programs from NBC's Saturday Night Live to Comedy Central's The Colbert Report and The Daily Show.

What advice do you have for students applying to colleges this year, and for their parents?
We asked this question of the applicants and parents (nearly 11,000 people in all) who completed last year's 2012 "College Hopes and Worries Survey."

Their most common advice: "START EARLY." We see this over and over in their comments and many write it just that way, in caps. One parent wrote "Start the whole process a year earlier than you think." A student wrote "Start early! As a matter of fact, start now."

We echo that advice.

Princeton Review Top 10 Tips

As a former college admissions officer and author of our Princeton Review "Best Colleges" books for over a decade, I've helped thousands of parents and students through the highs and lows of this process. Here are my top 10 tips to make your college application experience low on stress and high on success:

1. Start early. It's never too early to start saving for college: even starting at a child's birth! By middle school, parents and children should begin thinking about the student's college interests and planning for applications. The student's high school courses, transcript, and GPA will be what matter most to college admission officers.

2. Get organized. Request information from colleges you are considering and start files on them so you can keep track of each school's application requirements, deadlines and forms. Set time aside each week to tackle a part of the process: it will be far more manageable.

3. Students: stay smart. Get the best grades you can in the most challenging courses you can take and the best scores you can on the ACT or SAT (whichever test is best for you). Take plenty of time to prepare for the test and SAT Subject Tests or AP exams you take. Test scores affect admission, financial aid and scholarship decisions.

4. Visit as many colleges as possible —ideally when classes are in session. Schedule interviews, take the tours, attend classes, and eat in the dining halls.Don't be shy about asking students what they like most and least about the colleges. Take photos during your visits to help you remember what you saw when you return home as well as months later.

5. Can't get to a campus? Take a virtual tour.Visit the college's website (some have 24/7 webcams), watch their videos, and read the campus paper online. Ask your college advisor to help you get in touch with any alumni from your high school attending the college. (Note: The Best 377 Collegesis loaded with quotes from actual students we surveyed at the schools.)

6. Keep an open mind about college costs. Don't cross a college with a high sticker price off your list. The most expensive colleges give out the highest aid awards: it can cost less to attend a pricey private school than a low-cost public one. Always apply for financial aid and apply to some "financial aid safety" schools you could afford to attend with little or no aid.

7. Don't apply to a college you wouldn't want to attend.Some students apply to some colleges just to please a parent or teacher or to see if they get in. Don't waste money and time o such an application. Spend that time getting better grades in school, which will boost your chances of getting in to the colleges you do want to attend and of getting financial aid from them.

8. Make it fun. Enjoy and make the most of the special experiences you will have with your child/your parents getting the applications, recommendations, essays, and other steps completed. Hopefully you'll only go through the process once!

9. Be patient. When the college decision letters and financial aid award offers land in March/April, wait until you've heard from all the colleges you've applied to before deciding which lucky college you'll attend.You have till May 1 to commit to the college of your choice.

10. Keep your eye on the prize: chose your college wisely.It's not about getting into the "best" college, the "best-known" college, or the college that's "toughest-to-get-into" on your list. It's about getting into the best college for you. That means the college that will meet your education needs and career goals, be affordable, have a campus culture that suits your personality and interests, and is in a city/town you'll enjoy living in.

We wish you great success in your applications and happy times in your college years ahead.

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