Courtesy The Princeton Review
(SPOKANE, Wash.) -- Gonzaga University is among the 368 best colleges in America for undergraduate education, according to The Princeton Review, a New York City-based educational services company that includes Gonzaga in its 2009 edition of “The Best 368 Colleges,” the publication announced Monday (July 28).
The company, known for its test-prep courses, features Gonzaga in the annual book just published by Random House/Princeton Review ($21.95). Gonzaga is in good company as the book includes only the top 15 percent of America’s approximately 2,500 four-year colleges, plus two Canadian schools. The book includes a profile of Gonzaga on pages 250-251, and student survey-based ranking lists of top 20 colleges in more than 60 categories. Gonzaga is ranked in the top 20 in three categories this year. The Princeton Review also posts the book’s ranking lists on its Web site.
Gonzaga is ranked No. 10 nationally by The Princeton Review in the category “Everyone Plays Intramural Sports,” No. 15 in the category “Students Pack the Stadiums,” and No. 17 for “Best Athletic Facilities.” Other ranking categories report on campus politics, race/class relations and sports.
In its profile on Gonzaga, The Princeton Review quotes extensively from GU students surveyed for the book. Among their candid comments about Gonzaga are the following: “One big family comprised of Catholics and non-Catholics alike” who “all work together in achieving success. We embrace the Jesuit traditions of service, spirituality, social justice, and leadership.” The Jesuit influence is indeed pervasive. It can be seen in the effort to “educate the entire person” through a broad liberal arts curriculum. Gonzaga requires four semesters of philosophy and three of religious studies. “They are classes that open your eyes to many harsh realities out in the world and ways that we can contribute with our careers to change these,” one undergrad observed. It is also seen in Gonzaga’s commitment to social service; “Almost everyone here is involved in some kind of community service, whether as a class requirement or just for fun,” one student said, adding “GU also requires a social justice class as part of the core curriculum [in the College of Arts and Sciences].” Gonzaga is “big enough to have good programs, small enough that you feel cared about”; academic standouts here include engineering, nursing and business. The school also “has great support programs.
There are endless offices where people can get help that include great counselors’ offices and homework help.” Those same services are “also very good about really helping you figure out what you really want to do with your life.”
Regarding campus life, Gonzaga students noted they “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.”
Beyond basketball, GU’s campus “is extremely active, which results in a lot of fun, active ways to entertain oneself,” including “extremely popular” intramural and club sports and extracurricular clubs (“everyone is involved in a few”). Every other week, the Gonzaga University Theater Sports (GUTS) club puts on an improv comedy show which is hilarious without fail. There are also outdoor programs and trips, a myriad of clubs, and service-learning opportunities.” Students also take “a very active role in the surrounding community. Gonzaga puts on and sponsors a lot of after-school programs for the kids of the local elementary schools and junior highs.”
Spokane, where Gonzaga is located, “has a lot to offer if you know where to look,” including “concert venues, cafes, great food, movie theaters showing both mainstream and independent films, and shopping.”
The ratings in “The Best 368 Colleges” are numerical scores based largely on school-reported data collected during the 2007-08 academic year. Gonzaga received the following scores -- on a scale of 60 to 99: Admissions Selectivity, 89; Financial Aid, 83; Fire Safety, 89; Academic Rating, 82; and Quality of Life Rating, 84.
A section titled “The Inside Word” notes that Gonzaga “is a great example of how a high profile athletic program can transform a competitive school into a highly competitive one. Over the past decade, Gonzaga’s admit rate has decreased substantially while class rank, standardized test scores, and high school GPA have all increased measurably.”
Robert Franek, Princeton Review’s vice president for publishing, said Gonzaga and the other schools represented in the book were chosen primarily for their outstanding academics.
“We evaluated them based on institutional data we collect about the schools, feedback from students attending them, and our visits to schools over the years,” Franek said. “We also consider the opinions of independent college counselors, students, and parents we hear from yearlong. Finally, we work to have a wide representation of colleges in the book by region, size, selectivity and character.”
The ranking in “The Best 368 Colleges” are based on The Princeton Review’s survey of 120,000 students (approximately 325 per campus) attending the 368 colleges in the book. A college's appearance on these lists is attributable to a high consensus among its surveyed students about the subject.
The 80-question survey asked students to rate their schools on several topics and report on their campus experiences at them. Ranking lists report the top 20 schools in categories that range from best professors, administration, and campus food to lists based on student body political leanings, race/class relations, sports interest, and other aspects of campus life. The Princeton Review does not rank the colleges in the book 1 to 368 in any category, nor do the rankings reflect The Princeton Review’s opinion of the schools. The Princeton Review is not affiliated with Princeton University.