Website ranks BYU as 7th happiest college

Published: Friday, Jan. 3 2014 5:55 p.m. MST

BYU Campus

Jaren Wilkey, BYU

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PROVO — There have been a few occasions, Rachel Folsom says, when she's accidentally left her clothes in the dryer of her BYU dorm's laundry room.

"If you leave your laundry in the laundry room for a little while, usually it's folded," Folsom said. "My laundry's been folded for me like three times."

Her friend's laundry was once moved from the washer to the paid dryer and then folded — all by a stranger, she said.

Folsom, a freshman at BYU, said it's those instances that contribute to the university's rank as No. 7 among the 20 happiest colleges in the nation by The Daily Beast.

To measure happiness at universities, The Daily Beast considered the full-time freshman retention rate, as tracked by the National Center for Education Statistics, for 25 percent of the methodology. The other 75 percent came from College Prowler's student ratings on overall student experience, whether students would do it again, and quality of the student health center.

BYU's full-time freshman retention rate is 87 percent; 9.7 out of 10 BYU students said they had the best overall student experience; and 9.9 out of 10 indicated they would choose BYU all over again, according to the rankings. BYU's health student center received a 9.1 score out of 10.

Folsom said another reason she is happy attending The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints-owned college is the religious focus.

"I love having everything gospel-centered," she said. "When you meet someone, you know automatically you have the gospel in common with them."

BYU student Ryan Freeman said he loves his school and believes other students are happy because their purpose as a student is clear.

The school's motto, "Enter to learn; go forth to serve," makes Freeman feel like he's part of something bigger, he said, and that the students are all playing on the same team.

Affordable tuition also makes his schooling experience a good one, he said.

"When you don't have to worry about working a rigorous job or paying off huge student loans, you're going to be happier," Freeman said. "You're not going to be as stressed."

Both Freeman and Folsom said it's nice to attend a college where there aren't many rowdy parties, a byproduct of BYU's honor code, which says students should abstain from alcoholic beverages, tobacco, tea, coffee and substance abuse, as well as premarital sex.

Freeman said the honor code makes the environment a healthy one.

Folsom said her friends who attend other universities complain that the same wild parties happen every weekend.

At BYU, "we always find weird things to do," she said.

Mark Olsen said he is happy attending BYU because he feels his professors care about the students and have their best interest at heart.

"There's no shortage of activities and opportunities for people to get involved," Olsen said, citing another reason students are happy at the university. "When you surround yourself with people with similar beliefs, it's really easy to get along with people and make friends, and that's a huge part of the college experience."

But Olsen said one of the reasons BYU may not rank No. 1 is because the academic program is so rigorous.

"To get accepted here is hard," he said. "So then you're competing against all these other smart kids. It can maybe be a source of discouragement. School's overwhelming."

The Daily Beast ranked Texas A&M as the nation's happiest college, followed by Stanford University, the University of Wisconsin, Florida State University, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the University of Florida.

Email: eeagar@deseretnews.com, Twitter: EmileeEagar

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