College Rankings 2014

25 Happiest Colleges (Photos)

Does college have to be so stressful? The Daily Beast analyzed retention rates and student opinions to find out which schools are turning out the happiest students.

Quinn Ryan/The Daily Beast

Quinn Ryan/The Daily Beast

To find out which colleges have the most satisfied students, we first considered retention rate—that is, how many full-time freshman returned for a second year, according to the National Center for Education Statistics which made up 40 percent of our methodology. For the remaining 60 percent, we turned to Niche for student ratings on the overall student experience and whether they would do it all over again, as well as the quality of the student health center to consider the well-being of students and their access to health services.

Justin Sullivan/Getty

#25

University of California-Berkeley

Berkeley, California


Retention Rate: 96%

Overall Experience Score: 7.4

"If I could do it all again" Score: 8.7

Student Health Center Score: 7.1

Replay Photos

#24

Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

Blacksburg, Virginia


Retention Rate: 92%

Overall Experience Score: 6.8

"If I could do it all again" Score: 9.9

Student Health Center Score: 7.7

Kay Hinton/Emory University

#23

Emory University

Atlanta, Georgia


Retention Rate: 95%

Overall Experience Score: 7.5

"If I could do it all again" Score: 9.2

Student Health Center Score: 6.9

Daniel de Vise/Getty

#22

University of California, Davis

Davis, California


Retention Rate: 92%

Overall Experience Score: 6.3

"If I could do it all again" Score: 9.1

Student Health Center Score: 9

Flickr/University of Pennsylvania

#21

University of Pennsylvania

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania


Retention Rate: 98%

Overall Experience Score: 8.8

"If I could do it all again" Score: 6.3

Student Health Center Score: 8

Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

#20

University of Notre Dame

Notre Dame, Indiana


Retention Rate: 97%

Overall Experience Score: 8.1

"If I could do it all again" Score: 7.6

Student Health Center Score: 8

Wesley Hitt/Getty

#19

Texas A&M University

College Station, Texas


Retention Rate: 92%

Overall Experience Score: 7

"If I could do it all again" Score: 9.7

Student Health Center Score: 8.3

Mario Tama/Getty

#18

Penn State

University Park, Pennsylvania


Retention Rate: 92%

Overall Experience Score: 7.1

"If I could do it all again" Score: 9.4

Student Health Center Score: 8.8

Diamond Images/Getty

#17

Ohio State University

Columbus, Ohio


Retention Rate: 92%

Overall Experience Score: 7.3

"If I could do it all again" Score: 8.7

Student Health Center Score: 9.3

Leon Halip/Getty

#16

University of Michigan-Ann Arbor

Ann Arbor, Michigan


Retention Rate: 97%

Overall Experience Score: 7.9

"If I could do it all again" Score: 9.6

Student Health Center Score: 6.6

Mario Tama/Getty

#15

Columbia University

New York, New York


Retention Rate: 96%

Overall Experience Score: 8.1

"If I could do it all again" Score: 9

Student Health Center Score: 7.4

Kevin C. Cox/Getty

#14

University of Georgia

Athens, Georgia


Retention Rate: 94%

Overall Experience Score: 7.1

"If I could do it all again" Score: 9.5

Student Health Center Score: 8.5

AFP/Getty

#13

Washington University in St. Louis

St. Louis, Missouri


Retention Rate: 96%

Overall Experience Score: 8.5

"If I could do it all again" Score: 8.3

Student Health Center Score: 7.8

Rob Foldy/Getty Images

#12

University of Florida

Gainesville, Florida


Retention Rate: 96%

Overall Experience Score: 7.6

"If I could do it all again" Score: 8.7

Student Health Center Score: 8.5

Craig Jones/Getty Images

#11

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Chapel Hill, North Carolina


Retention Rate: 97%

Overall Experience Score: 8.1

"If I could do it all again" Score: 9.1

Student Health Center Score: 7.4

Wikimedia Commons

#10

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Madison, Wisconsin


Retention Rate: 95%

Overall Experience Score: 7.4

"If I could do it all again" Score: 8.8

Student Health Center Score: 9

Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

#9

University of California, Los Angeles

Los Angeles, California


Retention Rate: 96%

Overall Experience Score: 8

"If I could do it all again" Score: 8.5

Student Health Center Score: 8.6

Marsha Miller/University of Texas at Austin

#8

The University of Texas at Austin

Austin, Texas


Retention Rate: 93%

Overall Experience Score: 8.1

"If I could do it all again" Score: 8.9

Student Health Center Score: 9.2

Gus Ruelas/University of Southern California

#7

University of Southern California

Los Angeles, California


Retention Rate: 97%

Overall Experience Score: 8.5

"If I could do it all again" Score: 8.7

Student Health Center Score: 8.1

CRAIG HARTLEY/Getty

#6

Rice University

Houston, Texas


Retention Rate: 96%

Overall Experience Score: 9

"If I could do it all again" Score: 8

Student Health Center Score: 8.5

Flickr/Washington and Lee University

#5

Washington and Lee University

Lexington, Virginia


Retention Rate: 95%

Overall Experience Score: 7.3

"If I could do it all again" Score: 8.8

Student Health Center Score: 9.8

William B. Plowman/Getty

#4

Harvard University

Cambridge, Massachusetts


Retention Rate: 97%

Overall Experience Score: 9.7

"If I could do it all again" Score: 8.9

Student Health Center Score: 6.8

William B. Plowman/Getty

#3

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Cambridge, Massachusetts


Retention Rate: 98%

Overall Experience Score: 10

"If I could do it all again" Score: 9.2

Student Health Center Score: 6.5

John Greim/Getty

#2

Brown University

Providence, Rhode Island


Retention Rate: 97%

Overall Experience Score: 8.4

"If I could do it all again" Score: 9.2

Student Health Center Score: 9.2

Brian Bahr/Getty Images

#1

Stanford University

Stanford, California


Retention Rate: 98%

Overall Experience Score: 10

"If I could do it all again" Score: 9

Student Health Center Score: 8.5