Survey Ranks George Mason as Nation’s Most Diverse School

Posted: August 18, 2004 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Fran Rensbarger

In a survey of more than 110,000 students at 357 top colleges, George Mason ranks number one in the nation in diversity. The survey, released Monday, appears in the 2005 edition of the Princeton Review’s annual college guide, The Best 357 Colleges. George Mason is also one of the 115 colleges named Best in the Mid-Atlantic by the review.

An abbreviated version of the lists with the top five colleges in each of 60 categories is posted on the web site. The lists are organized into nine broader categories, including academics, administration, demographics (diverse student population), politics, schools by type, parties, quality of life, extracurricular, and social.

Student comments quoted on the web site vary from complimentary to negative. One student said Mason is “a very diverse school, right near the heart of the nation’s capital. There are students from all over the world, which really adds to the atmosphere.” Another commented, however, that there is a lack of interaction among students, primarily since so many commute to campus.

On the academic side, a student commented, “We have some of the most serious academic scholars and others who are more geared toward learning what they need to know to succeed in the real world, such as business or technology skills.”

A general comment from the editors of the review was, “At state university prices, George Mason University is a great bargain for Virginia residents,” providing what a student calls “an easygoing and helpful atmosphere and a spirit of innovation.” Also, they said, “The most highly praised academic offerings include those of the School of Management (‘getting in takes a lot of hard work’) and the government studies department, which benefit from the proximity of Washington, D.C.” One student commented, “It’s very cool to have a professor tell you about an encounter that he had with the secretary of defense or to hear another tell you that he will be on NPR later that evening discussing the Middle East peace process.”

“The Princeton Review evaluation is, on the whole, quite encouraging,” says George Mason Provost Peter Stearns. “It does tend to reuse student comments, which may not always do a rapidly changing institution full justice or provide best assurances about overall accuracy. But it certainly captures some of the qualities we value at Mason.”

Since 1992, the Princeton Review has published its annual Best Colleges, offering college rankings based on student ratings of their schools and reports of their experiences at them.

“All of the schools in this book are academically outstanding,” says Princeton Review’s Robert Franek, the book’s lead author. “We report ranking lists in many categories to help college applicants and their parents decide which of these very different, but all great, colleges is best for them.”

The survey, conducted on campuses and the review web site, contains questions about academics, campus life and the student body, study hours, politics, and opinions. This edition’s rankings are based on surveys during the 2003-04 and/or the previous two school years.

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