Campus Life

Happy (College Students) New Year!

If you're a college student, are you happy at your college? If you're a high school senior, do you think you'll be happy at one of the colleges you applied to (or was accepted to as a result of your Early Action or Early Decision applications)? Also, if you're a high school junior thinking about your college application process, which is less than a year from now, how will you be able to tell if the colleges you'll be applying to have a generally happy student body?

These may seem like frivolous questions, but when you think about the stresses of college life, your happiness (or, perhaps more appropriately, your satisfaction) with life on your chosen campus can make a huge difference in your academic, extracurricular, and social experience. So, how can you, hopefully as a good consumer-minded young person, go about evaluating the happiness index at all the various schools who will be vying for your application and tuition dollars, not to mention those you long to attend?

Well, don't expect to find a hardcore scientific evaluation tool out there. I have always advised young people to “trod the sod" of the colleges they're considering. By that, I mean actually go to those campuses, walk around, and experience as many aspects of those schools as possible. More importantly, though, I urge potential applicants to engage students who are attending a particular college and ask them what they think about their school. The obvious question would likely be, “Are you happy here?" “Happiness" covers a lot of ground across a number of categories, such as academics, professors, facilities, the social scene, and–of course–food quality.

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