Mount Holyoke College offers the best classroom experience in undergraduate education in the country, according to the Princeton Review Guide's 2011 edition of its annual guidebook, The Best 373 Colleges (Random House), published August 3.
Mount Holyoke ranked first in the category of "best classroom experience," and the College was highly rated in several other categories, including "most politically active students" (#3), "most beautiful campus" (#7), "school runs like butter" (#9), "students study the most" (#15), most liberal students (#15), acceptance of the gay community (#16), and "stone-cold sober schools" (#18).
The Princeton Review Guide's 62 "top 20" lists are entirely based on its survey of 122,000 students (about 325 per campus on average) attending the colleges in the book. The 80-question survey asks students to rate their schools on several topics and report on their campus experiences. Topics range from student assessments of their professors, administrators, financial aid, and campus food, to race/class relations, gay community acceptance, and other aspects of campus life.
"I am so very pleased that Mount Holyoke has been recognized for the outstanding classroom experience provided to our students," said Mount Holyoke president Lynn Pasquerella. "This ranking speaks not only to the strength of our talented faculty but to the extent to which our students are challenged by their peers."
Survey participants from Mount Holyoke reported being "encouraged to pursue their passions in a safe, comfortable, and challenging environment" and said their professors are "highly respected in their fields," "excited to impart their knowledge," "very accessible outside of class," and "willing to spend a lot of time helping individual students." Students noted, "Despite their overall generosity, (faculty) hold every student to a very high academic standard," and they described course material as "always challenging and of high academic caliber."
Surveyed students said the typical Mount Holyoke student is "academically motivated" and "very aware of world issues, politically active, and open-minded," but finds time for the college's many campus activities and "fabulous traditions."
In addition to the rankings, the individual college profiles featured in the new guide book include school ratings, with numerical scores on a scale of 60 to 99, based largely on school-reported data collected during the 2009-2010 academic year. Mount Holyoke earned ratings of 98 in academics, 97 in financial aid, and 95 in admissions selectivity.
"We commend Mount Holyoke for its outstanding academics, which is the primary criteria for our choice of schools for the book," said Robert Franek, Princeton Review's senior vice president of publishing and author of The Best 373 Colleges. "Our choices are based on institutional data we collect about schools, our visits to schools over the years, feedback we gather from students attending the schools, and the opinions of our staff and our 28-member National College Counselor Advisory Board."
Only about 15 percent of America's 2,500 four-year colleges, along with 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.