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Three Arizona Schools Make Princeton Review’s 2017 'Best Colleges' List

(Photo courtesy of Princeton Review)

Every year for the past 25 years, The Princeton Review has been putting out a book ranking what the company says are the country’s best colleges in a wide variety of categories— from Great Financial Aid to Happiest Students to, yes, Party Schools.

But one way you will not see them rank colleges is from the best to the worst.

“The idea of a hierarchical ranking list, you will never see this from The Princeton Review, schools ranked one to 1,001,” according to Rob Franek, Senior Vice President of the college admissions and testing company and the author of their annual college rankings. “I just don’t think it’s very helpful.”

Instead, he said they focus on how a school can be the best fit for each student.

“Fit cannot just mean the hardest school to get into, or the easiest school to get into. It has to be a great fit for you academically, you want to make sure that you’re going to be challenged,” Franek said. “But, you also want to make sure that you’re going to be happy in your life outside the classroom.”

The Princeton Review’s 2017 edition of The Best 381 Colleges is out today, and three Arizona schools made the list.

Arizona State University, the University of Arizona and Prescott College were recognized in the company’s 2017 rankings in a variety of categories.

The U of A is ranked second on the list of colleges with the best health services and ranked among the top 20 schools for “Best Athletic Facilities” and on the “Students Pack the Stadium” list.

Prescott College, a small liberal arts school, was ranked on a few lists, including “Nobody Plays Intramural Sports,” “Is That a Dorm?” and “This is a Library?”

The Princeton Review surveyed 143,000 current students on dozens of topics to create the rankings.

“We go directly to whom we would consider college experts, current college students, and ask about experiences academically, campus culture, financial aid, career services, basically anything that should affect a student’s quality of life inside or outside the classroom,” Franek said.

Arizona State University did not make the list of top party schools this year, but Franek said they create lists like that so students have a clear idea of what the social scene at those schools will be like.

He also said though their methodology hasn’t changed at all over the 25 years they’ve been conducting these surveys, he thinks that students' and parents' attitudes about how they pick a college have changed.

“More and more students and parents have become bullish around asking things that would have been taboo honestly just 5 or 6 years ago,” he said. “The idea of return on your investment, the idea of saying, ‘Hey I’m ready to make the academic sacrifice, myself and my family are ready to make the financial sacrifice, but we want to know that there’s going to be great value for us.’”

That’s why The Princeton Review now focuses on things like financial aid, career services and internships, Franek said.

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Lauren Gilger, host of KJZZ's The Show, is an award-winning journalist whose work has impacted communities large and small, exposing injustices and giving a voice to the voiceless and marginalized.