The U.S. Department of Education recently released a list of the top 25 freshmen retention rates of private colleges and universities. The difference between consecutive rankings here comes down to a fraction of a percent—Brown has an average retention rate of 97.5 percent, coming in at
an unlucky a respectable thirteenth place. According to a Yahoo! news report, this officially renders Brown the school with the thirteenth happiest freshmen. The equivalency being presumed between retention and happiness can be easily deconstructed and dismissed, but it’s easier just to point out how irrelevant Yahoo! is.
Unfortunately, they aren’t the only ones that mark these statistics as a measure of our happiness—HuffPo and CBS News, among others, do the same. We always find it disconcerting when studies attempt to calculate the amount of happiness someone has (or a group people have), but in this case it is particularly discomforting as Princeton is ranked happiest. Sorry, but if this letter situation is happening at your school, you can’t win the happy-go-lucky award. Also, Princeton sorta just sounds sad. (Whoever said orange was the new black was seriously disturbed.)
We commend these sites for trying to gauge our happiness, but laugh at their shortcomings. [Read more →]