2017 Colleges with the Best Student Life Methodology

The 2017 Colleges with the Best Student Life ranking is based on student reviews and statistics from the U.S. Department of Education. Top-ranked colleges have a positive, fun, and friendly student culture and a vibrant campus community. Learn where our data comes from.

Factors Considered

Factor Description Source Weight
Student Surveys on Student Life Niche survey responses scored on a 1-5 scale regarding the quality of student life at each school. Self-reported by Niche users 30.0%
Party Scene Grade Niche Party Scene grade, which incorporates factors such as access to bars and student surveys regarding nightlife on campus. Niche 15.0%
Campus Grade Niche Campus Quality grade, which incorporates factors such as quality of campus food and housing, as well as student surveys regarding facilities on campus. Niche 10.0%
Diversity Grade Niche Diversity grade, which incorporates factors such as ethnic composition of the student body, proportion of international students and out-of-state students, as well as student surveys regarding diversity on campus. Niche 10.0%
Local Area Grade Niche Local Area grade, which incorporates factors such as median rent, local crime rates, access to amenities, as well as student surveys regarding the local area around campus. Niche 10.0%
Safety Grade Safety grade, which incorporates factors such as campus crime rate, local crime rate, as well as student surveys regarding health and safety services on campus. Niche 10.0%
Athletics Grade Niche Athletics grade, which incorporates factors such as number of national championships won, athletic department revenue, as well as student surveys regarding athletics on campus. Niche 5.0%
Full-Time Retention Rate Percent of full-time, first-time students enrolled the prior year that re-enroll the next year. U.S. Dept. of Education 5.0%
Graduation Rate (6-year) Percent of undergraduate students who graduate within six years. U.S. Dept. of Education 5.0%

This ranking assesses 1,375 4-year colleges and universities. The same methodology is used to produce the Niche Student Life Grade for each ranked school as well as additional 4-year colleges. Statistics obtained from the U.S. Department of Education represent the most recent data available, usually from 2014–2016, as self-reported by the colleges.

For more details about how we calculate our rankings, click here.