Book Review: The Best 371 Colleges


I recently got a hold of  a copy of “The Best 371 Colleges” a publication from The Princeton Review. This academic-oriented company helps students prepare for college entrance tests, shares financial aid information and admissions data, as well as promotes related book publishing. I snagged my copy of the 2010 edition directly from The Princeton Review, thus my personal assessment.

I’ve been hearing about “Best 371” for some time and am intrigued by the title. Unlike other college lists The Princeton Review (TPR) decided not to go with a nice round number, such as 400, choosing to come up with a figure that is much more attention getting. And you know something? I believe that it works.

Sparking The Right Kind Of Controversy

Youll be informed as well as entertained when you read the latest edition of The Best 371 Colleges.

You'll be informed as well as entertained when you read the latest edition of The Best 371 Colleges.

The annual survey by TPR which, by the way, is not related to the university nor is it a magazine, invariably sparks a lot of conversation, if not controversy. Who wouldn’t want to be named among the top schools in the land which always includes the private (and public) Ivies, Stanford, Duke as well as ancient private colleges such as Swarthmore, Williams and Flagler?

No, my alma mater wasn’t listed – Ramapo College of New Jersey – but the school once known as Trenton State College and presently carrying the snobbish moniker The College of New Jersey (TCNJ) did. I’m not surprised, because after Rutgers there are eight state colleges in the Garden State vying for students –  TCNJ has a leg up on the competition, something people “in the know” acknowledge.

So what’s so special about The Best 371 Colleges? Well, besides what TPR has to say about each school and what school administrators share, perhaps the most telling feedback is from currently enrolled students themselves who submitted some 122,000 surveys. And, to underscore just how important student feedback is, TPR devotes two full pages to each school’s profile — the first page outlines what students have to say, while the second page contains what both TPR and school administrators have to say.

What Students Have To Say

Clearly, The Princeton Review has their pulse on what people consider to be most important – consumer reviews in the form of student feedback.

And don’t think for a moment that this weighty tome (830+ pages) holds back on delivering what readers want to hear or need to know. Each student section discusses academics, life and the student body.

Take what students at Gonzaga University in Spokane, WA have to say about campus life – Gonzaga students “love to go to basketball games,” even though “it takes a lot of time out of your week between waiting in line on Sundays to get tickets and waiting in line on game days to get seats. However, when you are in the stands among all those red Kennel Club t-shirts, it is totally worth it.” Ya think?!


I’ve also learned that Clark University students hate the food and think that their campus in Worcester, MA is falling apart; that Ohio State University in Columbus is all about “drinking and sports” when students aren’t hitting the books; that College of Charleston (SC) students are envied by other students who think that the destination is a vacationland; while students who attend Iowa’s Grinnell College dismiss dismal winters noting that academic activity keeps everyone occupied most of the time.

Lists And More Lists

Authored by Robert Franek, you can learn how The Princeton Review conducts and compiles its rankings;  understand how it comes up with financial aid and green ratings; find helpful advice for college applicants and their parents; plus much more. Published annually since 1992, the book offers plenty of helpful Top 20 lists including – Party Schools, Jock Schools, Most Conservative Students, Most Liberal Students, Least Beautiful Campus and on and on the lists go. A very entertaining as well as informative reference books.

You can find your copy of “The Best 371 Colleges” ($22.99) through most major booksellers including Barnes & Noble, Amazon, and Borders. Make sure that you order the 2010 edition because plenty of retailers are selling older copies at greatly reduced prices.

Source: The Princeton Review

Adv. — Do you need financial aid for this semester? Have you exhausted all other options? If you answered yes to both questions, then visit your Sallie Mae lender for more information or call them directly at 866-530-9523.


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Categories: Book Reviews