For college-bound high school seniors, the last few months of school are a tension-filled time. They're being asked to choose a school that will best prepare them for an unknowable future career, a school where they'll thrive. They've researched the programs, visited the campus, but know close to nothing about what it's like to actually attend. Are the dorms a dump? Is the food edible? Will they ever get a date?
To answer some of those questions, Bloomberg Businessweek asked College Prowler to prepare a report card on the 50 institutions that house the top business programs in our latest ranking. College Prowler assigns letter grades, from A+ to F, to schools in 20 categories, including the attractiveness of men and women on campus, housing, health and safety, and even the weather, all of which are based on student opinions. To determine the overall satisfaction ranking of the universities that are home to top-ranked business schools, Bloomberg Businessweek assigned numeric values to each letter grade, determined the average, and then ranked them according to the average.
At the top of the list this year: the University of Georgia, which was recently named the top party school in the nation by The Princeton Review. Students awarded the school high grades for campus dining, athletics, and nightlife.
"There aren't many colleges where you are able to eat as many times as you want [in] a day. You can at UGA," one student told College Prowler. "[The school] tries to switch up the food it serves sometimes. If you're a vegetarian, there are meals available for you. There are special nights when there is a theme, and the food made is connected to that theme."
Georgia's lowest mark is a C+ for its drug scene, which is a measurement of how noticeable drug use is on campus and what kind of pressure students are under to use illegal substances. The lower the grade, the more noticeable drugs are on campus, writes Luke Skurman, chief executive officer of College Prowler, in an e-mail. Southern Methodist University earned a D+ for its drug scene, which was the lowest grade in that category. In an e-mailed statement, SMU spokesman Kent Best noted that a 2010 survey of 1,123 SMU students found that levels of substance abuse at the university were similar to national averages, and that the school has numerous programs and policies aimed at substance abuse education and prevention. "SMU is committed to providing its students with an educational environment that encourages healthy lifestyle choices," he wrote.
Georgia unseated the University of Southern California, which earned the top spot for overall satisfaction in our 2009 College Prowler ranking thanks to its sunny weather, good food, and exciting athletics. Having earned C-range grades for its drug scene, girls, and health and safety in 2010, USC dropped to No. 14. Unfortunately for the school, the surrounding city, as opposed to the campus, might be the problem.
"The campus itself is pretty safe," one surveyed student told College Prowler. "DPS (Department of Public Safety) is always around, and I've never felt uncomfortable walking around. Outside of campus is a different story, and especially as a girl, I wouldn't walk around by myself."
Michigan No. 2
Scoring an A+ both for its computers and facilities, the University of Michigan came in second to Georgia for overall satisfaction in 2010. Accessibility to computers with speedy Internet connections makes a difference to students.
"No matter what building a student goes into, there always seems to be an ample supply of computers," said one student surveyed by College Prowler. "Accessing them is an easy task, and if a lab is filled, there is always another lab with one that is sure to be open. The computers are very up-to-date and run quickly."
University of Pennsylvania and Brigham Young University tied for third on overall satisfaction. Pennsylvania fared particularly well in academics, Greek life, and local atmosphere, receiving straight As in all three categories.
"A lot of people have a great time at Penn as far as nightlife. There's always a frat party to attend within walking distance, and frats also frequently hold parties downtown in clubs," said one student surveyed by College Prowler. "There's also a huge music scene in Philadelphia, with tons of bars and other venues hosting singers and bands."
While both guys and girls scored in the A-range for attractiveness at Brigham Young, its housing, facilities, and lack of a drug scene put it over the top with students., The school scored an A+ thanks to the largely Mormon population and an honor code that prohibits any kind of substance abuse, including drugs, alcohol, tobacco, even coffee.
"The drug and alcohol scene at BYU is almost nonexistent. If the university finds out that you have abused substances in the past, then you will be put on academic probation or (more likely) kicked out," said one student surveyed. "There is a strict honor code that all students sign, and it includes not taking drugs or alcohol."
Notre Dame Slips
Although the University of Notre Dame's Mendoza College of Business (Mendoza Undergraduate Business Profile) placed first in the Bloomberg Businessweek ranking of undergraduate business programs, the university's off-campus housing, local atmosphere, and weather, which earned a D-, pushed the institution toward the bottom of the list for overall satisfaction. Still, students give its facilities an A-.
"With tree-lined quads and the majority of buildings built in a traditional collegiate Gothic style, Notre Dame is recognized as having one of the most beautiful campuses in the nation," said one surveyed student. "The athletic centers are all new or recently renovated, and there are usually two or three new buildings opening any given year."
Before deciding where to apply and enroll, applicants should do their homework by getting the real story about the campus from the university's students, writes College Prowler's Skurman.
"Talk to as many students as possible about their experience on campus. They are the ones who are living it in real time, who can give you invaluable advice," he writes. "Don't be afraid to have the university put you in touch with some current students where you can ask them specific questions."