College life is full of lists. There are lists for the top NCAA sports teams, the coolest drinking games, the strangest mascots, the best school mottos, the most inspiring professors, the largest school endowments, the most popular student newspapers, and the highest-paying academic majors (engineering, for those keeping score at home).
There are separate lists telling students about the best historically black colleges, the best Christian colleges, and the best schools at which to drink, dance, surf, party, and explore illegal drugs such as marijuana. One additional list ranks the happiest schools in America, deduced through analyzing factors such as campus housing, nightlife, dining, and hours of daily sunshine. The happiest school: Claremont McKenna College in California. Harvard University comes in second.
There are also lists touting the best cars to own while in college, the strangest classes to take, the most spirited sports stadiums in which to cheer on college teams, the wildest student sections in those stadiums, the most convenient dorm foods to munch on, the best college foods to devour while drunk, the top fashion trends for students on a budget, and the top student inventions (including a robotic arm run by a PlayStation controller).
There are lists laying out the top mobile apps, laptops, tech gadgets, and textbook alternatives to buy, rent or download while in school. Other lists focus on study stress busters, grade improvement tips, and techniques to reduce debt from student loans. Still others scream about the best ways to impress a professor, earn scholarships, and cheat on exams.
There are lists about the top Twitter feeds for students to follow, students’ oft-cited guilty pleasures (#1 ice coffee, #2 sleeping until noon), the top items typically stolen on campus (including iPods, cell phones, and bicycles), and the top gifts to get other students.
A separate list reverses the focus of the latter, instructing students on the 12 things they don’t need while in school. On the list is a printer, a big meal plan, campus health insurance, and cable TV. Another list highlights the “dumbest things” students complain about, including parking tickets, cafeteria food, residence hall rules, and roommates. Separate ones offer tips on avoiding the freshmen 15, the sophomore slump, senioritis, and post-graduation depression.
Among the most influential lists are the annual rundowns from high-profile organizations and media outlets proclaiming the priciest schools, cheapest schools, most social-media savvy schools, brainiest schools (#1 Brown University), most flirtatious schools (#1 Arizona State University) and the best darn schools, period. (On this list, Harvard is number one, tied with Princeton University.) There are also lists of the schools most conducive for internships, the liberal arts, pets, hipsters, and gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender students.
Perhaps the strangest college list I have come across was published in spring 2011 in The Miscellany News. The Vassar College campus newspaper published a review of the “ten best and quirkiest” campus restrooms. While seemingly odd at first glance, the list purporting to help students “find the perfect potty” comes across by its close as the quintessential campus guide.
After all, as the paper notes, “College students are often deprived of many comforts: parentally run laundry services, nights that don’t include your neighbors playing Call of Duty at ungodly hours and your own bathroom.”
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