The happiest students in American undergraduate education are enrolled at Whitman College.

So says The Princeton Review in its 2008 edition of “Best 366 Colleges,” an annual guide to select four-year schools in the United States and Canada.

Whitman students enjoy the third-best quality of life among undergraduates at all colleges and universities in the survey. The school ranks second in the “Runs Like Butter” category, a measurement that accounts for the quality of life on its campus.

“Whitman was founded on a spirit of ‘friendliness and devotion to high ideals.’ We are living that vision,” said George Bridges, president of the college. “As individuals and as a community, we consciously choose to embrace newcomers as though they were family.”

The Princeton Review ranked Whitman in the Top 10 in seven categories and in the Top 20 in 11 areas. (To see complete lists in all categories, visit

Princeton Review
#1 – Happiest Students
#2 – School Runs Like Butter
#2 – Everyone Plays Intramural Sports
#3 – Best Quality of life
#7 – Best College Library
#9 – Best Classroom Experience
#12 – Lots of Race/Class Interaction
#12 – Best College Radio Station
#20 – Their Students Never Stop Studying

“We chose schools… primarily for their outstanding academics,” said Robert Franek, vice president of publishing for The Princeton Review. “We evaluated them based on institutional data we collect about the schools, feedback from students attending them and our visits to schools over the years.”

Rankings are based on surveys of some 120,000 students (325 per campus on average) who attend the 366 colleges included in the annual college guide. Students rate their schools in dozens of categories.

New rankings released last week by U.S. News & World Report also put Whitman in the top tier of liberal arts colleges in the country. Whitman’s faculty resources rank jumped nine positions, from No. 24 to No. 15, and its alumni giving rank climbed by two positions to No. 24.

The U.S. News rankings are based on a set of 15 indicators of excellence from data provided by more than 1,400 accredited four-year schools. The categories for ranking are created by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.

“The rankings supply hard data and analysis to help college applicants make apples-to-apples comparisons of schools across the country,” said Editor Brian Kelly. “Our goal is to help equip students and their families to make a knowledgeable decision based on clear, comparative research.”

For its part, The Princeton Review does not rank colleges on a 1-to-366 basis in any category. Rankings in each category are based on a consensus of student opinion.

“We compile rankings in multiple categories to give college applicants and their parents… a wide range of information to decide which of these academically outstanding colleges will be best for them,” said Franek. “It’s all about the fit.”

Keith Raether
Office of Communications, Whitman College