Georgetown students live in the number one college town in the nation, according to the Princeton Review’s 2002 Edition of “The Best 331 Colleges.”

The report, which ranks schools in 62 categories ranging from academics to social life, calls Georgetown students hard workers who “can always make time to go out and have a great time.”

Assistant Vice President for Communications Julie Green Bataille cited the capital’s numerous on and off campus opportunities for activity that earned Georgetown’s top ranking.

“Our location enables students to have many opportunities to participate in events and see first hand some of the leading thinkers of the day – from former President Bill Clinton (SFS ’68) to author Amos Oz to hosting the First Lady and White House Conference of Early childhood Cognitive Development,” she said.

Many students said they felt the city had a lot to offer for college students. “There’s so much to do, it’s all close to campus, it’s so convenient,” Jon Shearin (COL ’05) said. In terms of entertainment, many students mentioned M Street, the Mall, Dupont Circle, and MCI Center. “For me it’s not the Georgetown area,” Tatiana Havryliuk (COL ’04) said. Internships and employment opportunities, as well as cultural offerings, were the top draws.

While most students agreed that Washington, D.C. deserved praise as a college town, several were surprised that it had garnered the number one position over other cities like New York and Boston. “Boston might be more of a college town. When you think of college you think of New England,” Tim Perry, a student at iddlebury College enrolled at Georgetown through the Washington Semester program said. Because of the opportunities the city offers, “I’d say D.C. is the number one place to go to college, but Boston is the number one college town,” Molly Fitzgerald, also of Middlebury’s Washington Semester program said. Both agreed that the city provided advantages and benefits not available to students at small town colleges.

Georgetown also ranked the fourth most politically active school in the nation behind Bard College and Simon Rock’s College of Bard. New York University topped the list.

“We live in the nation’s capital — our local news is national news,” Sarah Robinson (SFS ’05) said.

Other rankings in the book include the best professors, the best dorms and the best cafeteria food.

Princeton University rated number one for academics, Wheaton College was ranked the most religious and the University of Tennessee at Knoxville was named the biggest party school in the nation.

Conducted by the New York city-based test preparation company, The Princeton Review, the report was based on the surveys of 65,000 students from 331 colleges. Participants were asked to rate their own schools in a series of 70 questions based on academics, student body, study hours, politics and opinions. The book is intended to help students applying to college find the best school for them, according to The Review.

The report also ranked Georgetown as the number two school where class discussion is encouraged by professors.

Green Bataille attributed this ranking to the university’s focus on student-centered research. “Faculty members regularly encourage students to think critically about the topics they study and participate actively in class discussion,” Bataille said. “The importance that faculty place on their teaching demonstrates their commitment to share their knowledge and expertise with students and engage them in dialogue that helps foster a greater understanding about the issues at hand.”

In addition, The Review rated Georgetown as the 16th most beautiful campus in America – a ranking Green Bataille attributed to the university’s historic architecture.

“Healy Hall, White Gravenor, Dahlgren quad and Copley Lawn are just some of the more scenic and welcoming locations on campus that convey a sense of history and provide quiet places for study, reflection and relaxation,” she said. “We’re very fortunate to have such a beautiful, well-maintained, residential campus just minutes from the hub of the nation’s capital.”

Student perspective on campus aesthetics was mixed. Lauinger Library drew the most complaints as Georgetown’s biggest eyesore. Others felt the university merited higher. “Sixteen? We’re way more beautiful than that,” Robinson said. “You can’t really compare though. Georgetown is in a city, so the campus is more urban, it doesn’t have the same rural aspects,” Shearin said.

“Our building projects, like the Southwest Quadrangle, will only enhance our existing campus infrastructure and resources,” Green Bataille added.

Green Bataille, however, warned against placing unnecessary weight on the rankings. “Of course Georgetown is pleased to maintain strong rankings in many areas. However, it’s important not to put too much emphasis on these or any other rankings, as they are only one of many measures of a school’s success,” she said.

“Efforts to rank universities fail to recognize the real strength of American higher education, which is the great diversity of colleges and universities in this country, with a place for every student in that wide array of schools,” Green Bataille added.

Indeed, the reviews prompted a mix of response from students. Some felt Georgetown’s positions in the various categories were too low, others considered them too high. Many took the reviews with a degree of skepticism, saying they don’t really supply a clear picture of every university.

“What’s most important for us is for Georgetown to continually enhance its academic excellence, Catholic and Jesuit identity and extracurricular opportunities in the nation’s capital that make student experiences the best they can be,” Green Bataille said.

The survey is the most extensive poll of students’ opinions of their schools, according to the Review. Less than 10 percent of the nation’s top schools are included in the exclusive report.

The rankings can also be found online at www.review.com.

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