25 Colleges With the Happiest Freshmen

Last Updated Oct 10, 2011 12:34 PM EDT

When you are checking out colleges, here's a great question to ask: How happy are the freshmen?
It's an excellent sign if freshmen are pleased enough with their school that they return for a second year.

What you'll find here is the list of the 25 colleges and universities with arguably the happiest freshmen.

These schools enjoy the highest freshmen retention rates, according to the Center for College Affordability and Productivity, an education think tank, which collected the figures when compiling the college rankings for Forbes Magazine.

25 Colleges With the Highest Freshmen Retention Rates

  1. Yale University (CT)
  2. Swarthmore College (PA)
  3. Princeton University (NJ)
  4. Stanford University (CA)
  5. Williams College (MA)
  6. California Institute of Technology
  7. University of Chicago (IL)
  8. Harvard University (MA)
  9. Columbia University (NY)
  10. Dartmouth College (NH)
  11. University of Pennsylvania
  12. Notre Dame University (IN)
  13. U.S. Naval Academy (MD)
  14. Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  15. University of Virginia
  16. Hillsdale College (MI)
  17. Washington University, St. Louis (MO)
  18. Rice University (TX)
  19. Middlebury College (VT)
  20. Brown University (RI)
  21. Duke University (NC)
  22. Haverford College (PA)
  23. Carleton College (MN)
  24. Pomona College (CA)
  25. Davidson College (NC)

The Best Freshmen Retention Rate

Yale, the No. 1 school on the happiest freshmen list, had 99% of its freshmen return for a second year.

It's not surprising that the schools on this list are almost all elite institutions. These schools attract extremely bright students who are less likely to leave school because they are well prepared for college. These schools also attract a large number of wealthy students, who can afford high prices, and those who do need financial aid typically enjoy generous aid packages.

When compiling its retention list, the center did not include the actual retention percentages, but it's easy to find freshmen retention rates for any school in the country. Just head to the website of College Results Online to discover freshmen retention rates along with four, five and six-year graduation rates.

Lynn O'Shaughnessy is author of The College Solution, an Amazon bestseller, and Shrinking the Cost of College workbook. She also writes her own college blog at The College Solution.

Read more on The College Solution:

25 Colleges With the Best Professors in 2011
25 Colleges With the Worst Professors in 2011
Yale University image by polytikus. CC 2.0.

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