The Ivy Coach Daily

June 3, 2024

Top 10 Happiest Colleges in the U.S.

Brown University’s quadrangle is featured beneath trees.
Brown University has an experiential ethos (photo credit: Kenneth C. Zirkel).

While it might be difficult to measure the happiness of a university’s students with any quantifiable method, we at Ivy Coach have summed up all of the anecdotal evidence which  points to happy students on certain college campuses. Which schools are those, you may ask? Here is a definitive list of the top ten happiest colleges in the U.S. in 2024:

Top 10 Happiest Colleges in 2024

10. Yale University

Yale is housed on a gorgeous collegiate Gothic campus in New Haven, Connecticut. In the absence of any major urban centers within walking distance, students at Yale form close-knit bonds on campus, forged from a shared sense of academic achievement and pride for their school. The Ivy League’s strong party culture leaves undergraduates with plenty of options for weekend fun.

9. University of Southern California

USC is the informal educational auxiliary to Hollywood’s entertainment industry. Star-studded and full of glamor, USC furnishes its undergraduates with a sunny, lively campus culture that does not lack in academic resources. Each student is supported by extensive resources and ample opportunities for professional advancement, particularly in the film and TV sectors.

8. Vanderbilt University

Vanderbilt is the South’s scenic answer to the elite institutions of the Northeast. With green meadows and historic architecture, Vanderbilt is the ideal backdrop to a campus culture that is consistently lauded for its high quality of life and robust student-support infrastructure. Part of this appeal is the draw of the greater Nashville area, which has a recreational scene like no other mid-size city.

7. Tulane University

Tulane has an exciting party culture that mimics the city of New Orleans in which it resides. Campus is certainly beautiful and historic, but students value their time at Tulane because of the sheer fun and camaraderie that lies in store for all. But even those who don’t enjoy partying will find a tight-knit community at this prestigious research university.

6. Duke University

Duke houses very happy students in part because of the prevalence of “Selective Living Groups” on campus, which are essentially co-ed residential communities that take their cues from Greek life. Parties and bonfires are a highlight of each weekend as students celebrate the many athletic victories of the Blue Devils.

5. Rice University

Rice is the perfect example of a school that still has a compelling party scene without any Greek organizations. Students at this private research university thrive within this democratized environment, which encourages the intermingling of those from all walks of life. The famed residential college system in the heart of Houston is the centerpiece of Rice’s student life.

4. Northwestern University

Northwestern couples the easygoing midwestern lifestyle with the trappings of an elite private university. Students at Northwestern not only have all of Chicago at their fingertips, they also get to mix and mingle at one of the top party schools in the nation. Undergraduate students are set at ease when they arrive on campus because they are assured they will achieve greatness postgrad via Northwestern’s strong relationship with many major industries

3. Stanford University

Stanford is not only a hub of innovation, it is also a hub of student traditions that bring campus together. From fountain hopping to “Full Moon on the Quad,” students at Stanford graduate with fond memories of the home they found on this palm-studded sunny campus among those with a shared work ethic and high level of ambition.

2. Emory University

Emory may not have the most wild party scene of schools on this list, but they make up for this with extensive mental health and counseling services, a peaceful set of campuses in Atlanta and Oxford, Georgia where students make friendships that last a lifetime, and a deep interconnectedness with the broader Atlanta community. Undergraduates at Emory graduate into successful professional lives postgrad, but always fondly remember their time on campus.

1.  Brown University

Brown has it all: Ivy League prestige, a socially-conscious student body, a bustling campus in the middle of a mid-size city, and a strong party culture. It might be known as the experimental member of the Ivy League, but as it turns out, the students at Brown love this part of campus culture. They go through their undergraduate years making friendships, exploring Providence, and resting assured that their futures will be bright.

What Do the Happiest Colleges Have in Common?

You may have noticed a few commonalities shared between schools on this list. Many of them are located in sunny climates and are housed on campuses that are famed for their beauty. This is no coincidence. Studying amidst physical beauty and warm weather is bound to boost one’s mood. Many of these schools also share a shared civic ethic of community engagement and social consciousness.

This ethic roots one to their community, turning a campus from simply a place of residence to a true home. Finally, all of these schools draw some of the most talented young adults in the world together to study. It takes a lot to make it to a highly selective college, but once you’re there, you meet the sorts of people who mold you into a better person. This culture is difficult to quantify, but it leads to greater happiness across the board.

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