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Video: Princeton Review ranks top party school, best profs

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    ANN CURRY, co-host: Back now at 8:37. This morning on EDUCATION NATION TODAY , the country's best colleges. The Princeton Review is out with its annual rankings, covering everything from the top dorms and food to the schools with the best financial aid . And here to walk us through the list is Rob Franek . He's the author of Princeton Review 's "The Best 376 Colleges." Rob , good morning to you.

    Mr. ROB FRANEK: Ann , thanks for inviting me back.

    CURRY: Of course. It's always great to have you here because you give us such clarity. You ranked 62 different categories, from financial aid to campus services to even quality of life for some students. How were these lists compiled?

    Mr. FRANEK: Well, the difference between "The Best 376 Colleges" and every other guide book out there, as well as college research Web site , is that we

    go directly to whom we consider college experts: current college students. So 122,000 of those students this year. So we have an online survey that sits on princetonreview.com and they come and fill it out each year.

    CURRY: So you get an authentic voice. And on the question of great financial aid , which is of course the thing that everybody really cares a lot about...

    Mr. FRANEK: Yeah.

    CURRY: ... number one was Swarthmore College .

    Mr. FRANEK: Swarthmore College . And, you know, it's not too surprising because it's been a usual suspect on that great financial aid list, as well as our number one school in our best value colleges list. But Swarthmore has a really high sticker price, $52,000. But the average aid package, $36,000, bringing it down to $16,000 overall. That's what a student would pay for a public education in the -- in the US alone.

    CURRY: And that list also includes some Ivy Leaguers like, you know, Princeton and Yale and Harvard. But on the next category, best professors, number one is Wellesley College . And that does not have -- that list does not have any Ivy League schools.

    Mr. FRANEK: Yeah, that's true. And it's probably not too surprising when we start to think about the student-to-faculty ratio. And Wellesley is a good example. Eight-to-one student to faculty ratio. Professors at Wellesley are only teaching two classes a semester so they can devote their entire time to those undergraduates. No TAs teaching classes at Wellesley .

    CURRY: All right, that's good to know. Also, on the category of best career services, you have University of Florida .

    Mr. FRANEK: Yeah. And this is a fairly new list for the Princeton Review . This is the fourth year that we've put it out there. We got the idea from a college dad that said, you know, 'I'm paying all of this money for tuition, but what are the careers that my son is going to get after he gets out of school?' So University of Florida , usual suspect on the list, back in the number one spot . The University of Florida 's a big school, 30,000 folks, but 24 full-time staffers in their career center .

    CURRY: Good to know.

    Mr. FRANEK: Yeah.

    CURRY: OK, on the -- on the -- in the category of dorms are like palaces...

    Mr. FRANEK: Ah, yes.

    CURRY: ... Bryn Mawr in Pennsylvania . Bryn Mawr College did very well, number one.

    Mr. FRANEK: Right. Really it has done well and lots of Princeton Review rankings, but the residents halls there are truly palatial. One of them is called Rockefeller , and it is a gift from John D. Rockefeller , built in 1904 . There are fireplaces, there are window seats, wonderful lead glass windows. It is glorious.

    CURRY: OK. And in -- on the category of best athletics facilities, number one went to Atlanta , to Georgia Tech University .

    Mr. FRANEK: Mm-hmm. Well-deserved, Georgia Tech , and one of the premiere engineering schools in the country. Twelve thousand folks, but it has world-class athletic facilities from a great aquatic center to tennis, there are climbing walls, there's several golf courses, and then there's a

    wilderness outpost a little outside of Atlanta for......kids.

    CURRY: OK. And on best campus food -- this is a very big issue for everyone...

    Mr. FRANEK: Yeah.

    CURRY: ...you've got number one on that list is Wheaton College in Illinois . The one in Illinois .

    Mr. FRANEK: The one in Illinois .

    CURRY: Because there are two.

    Mr. FRANEK: That's true. Wheaton College in Illinois . It's a small school , 2400 students, but there are three dining halls to service those students. All the food at Wheaton College is made from -- made from scratch, and all of the produce is bought locally. So it's an amazing school both academically as

    well as quality food ....

    CURRY: OK, the most beautiful campus, you've got number one is Florida Southern College .

    Mr. FRANEK: Florida Southern College , and it is an exceptional place. It's 100 acre camper -- campus, it's on an old orange grove. But the thing is that in 1937 Frank Lloyd Wright designed and then built the original campus. So the 12 existing buildings from the original campus are all Frank Lloyd Wright design.

    CURRY: The top party schools ! Now here we're getting down to it. Number one, Ohio University in Athens .

    Mr. FRANEK: Yes. It -- and the Ohio University in Athens , it is a premiere school when it comes to academics for public universities in the states. It has been on this list for eight over the last -- over the last 10 years, but in the number one spot this year.

    CURRY: Oh, and we have a graduate in our midst in Matt Lauer .

    Mr. FRANEK: Oh, I know.

    CURRY: And that explains why we love him so much. Top -- and number -- and the top stone cold sober schools, number one is Brigham Young University , which may not be a surprise.

    Mr. FRANEK: That's true. It's been a usual suspect. It's been in that number one spot for our stone cold sober list, that's the opposite of the party school list, for the last 14 years, consecutively number one.

    CURRY: And also on that list, Wheaton College , the one in Illinois ?

    Mr. FRANEK: Yep.

    CURRY: OK. And Wesleyan College , and also the United States Coast Guard Academy . These are really good information. By the way, people can get this -- the complete information for the top list of Princeton Reviews top colleges on our Web site at todayshow.com.

    Mr. FRANEK: Excellent.

    CURRY: Thank you so much for your information this morning.

    Mr. FRANEK: Pleasure to see you.

updated 8/2/2011 8:35:39 AM ET 2011-08-02T12:35:39

You know which colleges rank highly for academics and status. But what about the most beautiful campus? Or the most robust financial aid?

Here are the Princeton Review's top five picks in the categories that make college years the best years in life. Find the full lists in their new book, "The Best 376 Colleges: 2012 Edition," out now.

Model Release-YES
Rob Felt
The Campus Recreation Center (CRC) at Georgia Tech, ranked #1 for athletic facilities.

Best athletic facilities:

1. Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, Ga.
2. University of Maryland College Park, College Park, Md.
3. United States Military Academy, West Point, N.Y.
4. Wabash College, Crawfordsville, Ind.
5. The Ohio State University Columbus, Columbus, Ohio

Best campus food:

1. Wheaton College, Wheaton, Ill.
2. Bowdoin College, Brunswick, Maine
3. Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, Va.
4. Bryn Mawr College, Bryn Mawr, Pa.
5. James Madison University, Harrisonburg, Va.

The best college food you'll ever eat

Best career services:

1. University of Florida, Gainesville, Fla.
2. Northeastern University, Boston, Mass.
3. Pennsylvania State University University Park, University Park, Pa.
4. The University of Texas at Austin, Austin, Texas
5. Barnard College, New York, N.Y.

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Best health services:

1. University of California Los Angeles, Los Angeles, Calif.
2. Whitman College, Walla Walla, Wash.
3. United States Military Academy, West Point, N.Y.
4. The University of Texas at Austin, Austin, Texas
5. Pennsylvania State University University Park, University Park, Pa.

Best professors:

1. Wellesley College, Wellesley, Mass.
2. Harvey Mudd College, Claremont, Calif.
3. Reed College, Portland, Ore.
4. Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering, Needham, Mass.
5. Kenyon College, Gambier, Ohio

A seating spot outside a dorm at Bryn Mawr.

Dorms like palaces:

1. Bryn Mawr College, Bryn Mawr, Pa.
2. Loyola University Maryland, Baltimore, Md.
3. Smith College, Northampton, Mass.
4. Bennington College, Bennington, Vt.
5. Washington University in St. Louis, St. Louis, Mo.

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Great financial aid:

1. Swarthmore College, Swarthmore, Pa.
2. Princeton University, Princeton, N.J.
3. University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Va.
4. Yale University, New Haven, Conn.
5. New College of Florida, Sarasota, Fla.

Happiest students:

1. Rice University, Houston, Texas
2. Clemson University, Clemson, S.C.
3. Brown University, Providence, R.I.
4. Stanford University, Stanford, Calif.
5. Bowdoin College, Brunswick, Maine

Most beautiful campus:

1. Florida Southern College, Lakeland, Fla.
2. Lewis & Clark College, Portland, Ore.
3. University of California Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, Calif.
4. Mount Holyoke College, South Hadley, Mass.
5. Princeton University, Princeton, N.J.

Top party schools:

1. Ohio University Athens, Athens, Ohio
2. University of Georgia, Athens, Ga.
3. University of Mississippi, University, Miss.
4. University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa
5. University of California Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara, Calif.

Top stone-cold sober schools:

1. Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah
2. Wheaton College, Wheaton, Ill.
3. Wesleyan College, Macon, Ga.
4. United States Coast Guard Academy, New London, Conn.
5. United States Military Academy, West Point, N.Y.

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