Mount Holyoke College is one of the nation's best institutions for undergraduate education, according to The Princeton Review Guide's just-published 2009 edition of its annual book, The Best 368 Colleges.Its rankings place the all-women's liberal arts college in the company of Harvard, Princeton, and Stanford Universities when it comes to the quality of both the students' classroom experience and the College library.
Mount Holyoke was rated highly in the categories of "best classroom experience" (#5), "best college library" (#14), diversity of student population (#13), amount of race and class interaction (#12), acceptance of the gay community (#10), "most beautiful campus" (#5), and "dorms like palaces" (#15). The ranking lists are based on the Princeton Review company's survey of 120,000 students--on average about 325 students per campus-attending the 368 colleges in the book.
The school profiles featured in The Best 368 Colleges also include school ratings, with numerical scores on a scale of 60 to 99, based largely on school-reported data collected during the 2007-08 academic year. Mount Holyoke earned a rating of 94 in academics, a 90 for the quality of campus life, a 95 in selectivity, and a 95 for its financial aid program.
In its profile of the College, The Princeton Review Guide quotes extensively from MHC students surveyed for the book. Those students reported Mount Holyoke "is a rigorous all women's college that prepares its students to become the leaders of tomorrow by encouraging them to pursue their passions in a safe, comfortable and yet challenging environment." Biology, chemistry, the humanities, and international studies were found to be among the strong suits of the school, and students said they were held to high academic standards. In nearly all disciplines, professors were said to be "highly respected in their fields, many of them being very prominent figures among their respective academic communities." They were also described as being "excited to impart their knowledge" and "very accessible outside of class and willing to spend a lot of time helping individual students."
A "typical" Mount Holyoke student is one who is "female and academically motivated," undergrads said, adding that students are also "very aware of world issues, politically active, and open-minded," and "very concerned about grades and jobs." Students surveyed described the Mount Holyoke student body as "extremely diverse, from ethnicity to race to religion to sexual orientation to individual interests." The community works as a whole, they said, "because of the common interest in academics and openness of the students."
With students from 48 states and nearly 70 countries, Mount Holyoke is a multicultural community. One in every three MHC students is an international citizen or African American, Asian American, Latina, Native American, or multiracial. Mount Holyoke's faculty and staff speak more than 50 languages.
A college's appearance on The Princeton Review Guide lists is based on a high consensus among its surveyed students about the subject. The 80-question survey asked students to rate their schools on several topics and report on their campus experiences. Ranking lists report the top 20 schools in 60 categories that range from best professors, administration, and campus food to student body political leanings, race/class relations, sports interests, and other aspects of campus life.
"We chose schools for this book primarily for their outstanding academics," said Robert Franek, vice president of publishing for the Princeton Review company. "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. We also consider the opinions of independent college counselors, students, and parents we hear from year-long."
Only about 15 percent of America's 2,500 four-year colleges and two Canadian colleges are included in the book. The Princeton Review is a New York-based company known for its test preparation, education, and college admission services. It is not affiliated with Princeton University.
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