As a new generation of students embarks on its collective college career, many will no doubt be in for a surprise. The dorms looked great on the tour, but the showers were dirty. The school’s marketing materials didn’t say anything about the awful food. And nobody mentioned the nonexistent nightlife. It’s too bad there isn’t a Consumer Reports: College Edition.
Well, there is, sort of. Every year Bloomberg Businessweek partners with College Prowler, which surveys college students throughout the U.S. and uses those surveys to grade each school on everything from academics to nightlife to off-campus housing.
We asked College Prowler to provide ratings in 20 different categories for the schools that are home to our top 50 undergraduate business programs and to give us a sampling of what students were saying about their schools. If you like what you see, click on the business school name to learn more about its undergraduate program or visit College Prowler to learn more about specific ratings.
This year the University of Texas at Austin boasted the most satisfied students, scoring As (including pluses and minuses) in 13 categories, including an A+ in both local atmosphere and nightlife and As in athletics, girls, and guys. The worst? That would be Loyola University Maryland, which racked up Cs and Ds (including pluses and minuses) in nine categories, including a D+ in diversity and another for off-campus housing.
There was no shortage of beautiful people, either. In all, eight schools received A+ grades for either guys or girls, and two—Miami University and Villanova—won top honors for both.
The University of Illinois' massive size means "opportunities, lots of classes, lots of student groups," and "an incredibly lively campus." "The research support is phenomenal on campus" and "there are a lot of resources to supplement your studies." Students find the university's "fantastic library system" and "phenomenal advisors" to be "such a benefit for research projects," and "countless on-campus resources such as the Career Center, Writers Workshop, Office of Minority Student Affairs, free tutoring services, and the Study Abroad Office" also support students' academic experiences. They praise their processors as "wonderful," "not just good at research but also instructing and mentoring," and "very approachable," and students thrive on the emphasis on experiences outside the classroom: "The field work (tons of field work) that they make us do really helped in getting used to the field." "Most professors here are devoted to teaching, not researching." Classes can be big—"As an underclassman, many classes I've taken have been with very large classes"— but "the professors are engaging and know how to keep a class of 700-plus entertained." U of I's programs in business and engineering have long been recognized as among the best, and one student says, "I liked the breadth of the engineering program and the opportunities associated with it." Even if you're not sure what you want to study yet, its undergrads feel that the university has "an amazing reputation and strong programs in many different majors, and that if I needed to change majors (which I ended up doing) I would still be getting a great degree."
The diversity of the students here is astounding. Race, religion, major, you've got it all. Because in-state tuition is a major draw, "a majority of the students that you meet here will be from the Chicago suburbs," but the school also attracts "a wide variety of students from all across the world." "University of Illinois houses so many different types of students that the only way we are alike is our dedication to getting an education and our loyalty to UIUC." Undergrads feel that their peers "really know how to be academically successful," and shed state-school stereotypes like so many dirty socks: "It obviously takes a lot to get into this school so students aren't ready to throw it all away to sleep in every day." Social life changes as you find your "niche": "The typical student starts out going to a school of 40,000 students and are lucky if they know a handful of people. Within one week, life as that freshman student grows. There are so many opportunities to get involved on the floor of your residence hall, in organizations, in your classes, that it's hard not to make friends and close relationships."
In terms of location, "campus is located perfectly between Chicago, Indianapolis, and St. Louis, providing a unique atmosphere in town but close access to other urban areas for a change of pace." Students call social life "very exciting," and say, "The bars in downtown Champaign are great and super relaxed, plus there is an awesome music scene that most people don't expect from a college town." "People here like to party, but there are a lot of other fun things to do," whether it's "going to the Krannert Center to see plays or concerts" or the "movie theater and mall…on Saturday afternoons. ChampaignUrbana seems small to city kids, but to me it's the land of opportunity." Students relish the "nineteen-year-old bar age," and U of I also has "one of the largest Greek communities in the country." The combination of these facts does mean that "drinking culture is huge here" but "there's also tons to do beyond the bars." The range of social opportunities is nearly limitless: "There are 40,000 students, thousands of clubs, two gyms and several sport facilities, and array of establishments to explore on Green Street." As a whole, students report happily that "life is busy, but rewarding."