Students discuss Princeton Review “Happiest Students” ranking

Disha Amin, Contributing Writer

Tulane dropped two spots since last year’s U.S. News and World Report rankings and came in first for Princeton Review’s “Happiest Students.” (Rahima Olatinwo)

The Princeton Review recently ranked Tulane University number one for colleges with the happiest students, marking another success in the category the school has topped for years. 

 Some students behind that ranking say they see its merits, but research also contends such rankings may create outside pressures for students to feel happy or successful in their environments.  

Nysa Bhat, a freshman studying cellular and molecular biology and computer science on the pre-med track, said the ranking reflects Tulane’s collaborative mentality. 

“The high school I attended was very competitive. When I came to Tulane, I think one of the things that really stood out to me was how not cutthroat the school was … how all the students were very uplifting, and it was more collaboration instead of competition,” Bhat said. “I think that’s something that contributes to why students are happy here.” 

Extracurricular opportunities have also led to friendships — and that has helped her mental health on campus, Bhat said. 

 One key factor students say sets Tulane apart is the surplus of activities available to students in New Orleans. 

Sophomore Claire Suntken said she has fond memories in the city. 

“My boyfriend and I have gone all over New Orleans,” she said. “We went go-karting a few weeks ago, and we use our library cards all the time to go to museums and places like the aquarium … I like exploring the city, and I prefer that over a night at a bar.” 

Sophomore Mia Hinojosa echoed Suntken’s thoughts. 

“My favorite way to spend a free night is watching a movie with my friends because I do not really enjoy going out,” she said.  

But one recent study shows a perceived obligation to feel happy or successful may apply pressure to oneself to be happy all the time. In post-secondary academic settings, this obligation can be heightened when weighing factors like scholarships and cost of attendance, grade point averages, network connections and job offerings. 

Suntken said her experience has overall reflected Tulane’s “Happiest Students” ranking, but that does not mean college has come without challenges. 

“I’ve never felt super unhappy at Tulane,” Suntken said. “However, college is an adjustment and there have been times that I felt the weight of that adjustment.”

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