Photo by Andrew Moore, Staff.

Clemson students are football fanatics with a knack for community relations; Furman students are green thumbs; and Wofford students are likely Republican, according to the Princeton Review’s “Best 381 Colleges,” which was released on Monday.

The New York-based college admission services company releases a book annually that profiles and rates the best U.S. colleges. The ratings are based on an 80-question survey that asks students to rate their schools on various topics and to report their experiences. The Princeton Review surveyed about 143,000 college students this year.

The company then translates answers and ranks colleges in 62 categories that range from “town-gown relations” to “most conservative students.” Only about 15 percent of 2,500 four-year colleges are featured in the book. Multiple South Carolina colleges made the cut this year. And while some of the rankings are worth boasting, some are not.

Here is what the Princeton Review found out about South Carolina colleges:

Clemson University


Clemson garnered top spots in multiple categories this year, including a third place ranking in the “Their Students Love These Colleges” category, which is based on the survey question, “How satisfied are you with your school?”

Clemson is the only four-year institution in South Carolina to be ranked in six categories. The university was also listed as one of the “Best Southeastern” colleges and as one of 200 “Colleges That Pay You Back,” a category based on academics, cost and financial aid to graduation rates, student debt and alumni salaries and job satisfaction.

“The accolades that Clemson received from The Princeton Review this year not only reflect the emotion, engagement and excitement that help make up the Clemson experience, but also highlight the university’s commitment to ensuring that students are prepared to be competitive and successful in the job market,” said Robert Barkley, Clemson’s director of admissions.

Other categories:

  • Clemson has the fifth-best student career services, which has helped a large number of students attain internships or co-op experience. In fact, the percentage of Clemson graduates who participated in an internship or co-op program increased from 61 percent in 2009 to 71 percent in 2015, according to the Clemson Center for Career and Professional Development.


  • With good reason, Clemson earned fifth place in the “Students Pack the Stadiums” category. Clemson issues about 12,000 student tickets per a game.


  • Clemson secured ninth place in the “Town-Gown Relations” category, which is based on the survey question, “How well do students at your college get along with members of the local community?”


  • Clemson earned the 10th place spot in the “Everyone Plays Intramural Sports” category, which is based on the survey question, “How popular are intramural sports at your school?”


  • Clemson landed in 11th place in the “Happiest Students” category, which is based on the survey question, “How happy are you?”


Furman University 


Furman earned two rankings this year. The university got a fifth place ranking for being an “impact school” and was also listed as a “green college.” These categories are based on survey questions about community service, student government, sustainability and student engagement on campus.

Furman students volunteer every week through the Heller Service Corps. The 50-year-old service organization works with social service agencies to help children, older adults and those who are developmentally disabled. And Furman is the only liberal arts school in the nation to offer a bachelor’s degree in sustainability science.

The university is also known for putting undergraduate and graduate students in the field to conduct research. In fact, multiple students are helping biology professor John Quinn with his USDA-funded project to understand how silvopasture – a landscape that combines pasture, trees and animals – can improve agriculture sustainability.

Furman was also listed as one of the “Best Southeastern” colleges and as one of 200 “Colleges That Pay You Back.”

“To be recognized nationally as a best value is gratifying, but to know that our students believe we are providing many opportunities for public engagement on our campus and in the wider community is truly meaningful,” said Furman president Elizabeth Davis.

Other categories:

  • Furman landed in 12th place in the “Little Race or Class Interaction” category, which is based on the question, “Do different types of students (black/white, rich/poor) interact frequently and easily at your school?”


Wofford College 


Wofford is the place to be if you want to join a fraternity or sorority, as it placed 13th in the “Lots of Greek Life” category, which is based on the question, “How popular are fraternities and sororities at your school?” Wofford is the only four-year institution in South Carolina to be ranked in this category.

The Spartanburg-based school also seems be a hotspot for right-wing politics. It placed 17th in the “Most Conservative Students” category, which is based on the question, “Politically, are you left-wing, Democrat, middle, Republican, right-wing?”

Wofford was also listed as one of the “Best Southeastern” colleges. The guide notes that the school “is increasing efforts to attract a more diverse student body” and that students say their “classmates ‘are accepting of everyone and willing to take other’s values into consideration’ no matter where they come from.” Wofford was also listed as one of 200 “Colleges That Pay You Back.”

“It’s an honor to be recognized consistently as one of the country’s best institutions of higher education,” he says. “The Princeton Review is highly respected for its college guide, and to have been a part of this list for 25 years makes us proud,” said Wofford president Nayef H. Samhat.


College of Charleston 


The College of Charleston has appeared in headlines across the nation since it was named the nation’s 15th biggest party school by the Princeton Review. It could have something to do with the fact that the college also earned a No. 17 spot in the “Lots of Beer” category and a No. 15 spot in the “Lots of Liquor” category.

Just one day after the rankings were issued, the College of Charleston announced that it was temporarily banning all alcohol-related activities at its fraternities and sororities. The college cited disruptive parties and excessive drinking among students.

“This is not a knee-jerk reaction to an isolated incident, but rather a serious response to a series of dangerous behaviors connected to some members of our fraternities and sororities, ranging from disruptive parties out in the community this month to recent medical transports related to extreme intoxication,” College of Charleston President Glenn McConnell wrote in a message to the campus community on Tuesday.

McConnell added that he consulted with leaders from the Greek life community before making the decision and that the ban will be lifted after the college’s Division of Student Affairs has finished a review of the situation and after each chapter’s members have completed additional education regarding substance abuse, high-risk behaviors and bystander intervention.

The College of Charleston joins a hefty list of colleges and universities across the state that are addressing on-campus alcohol use. In 2014, Clemson University suspended all alcohol-related activities at its 24 fraternities following reports following reports of alcohol abuse, sexual misconduct and the drowning of a 19-year-old fraternity member. In 2015, the University of South Carolina ordered 13 fraternities to stop recruitment activities due to alcohol, risk-management violations and more. 

Other colleges and universities across the nation have addressed the issue as well, with Dartmouth and Bates banning hard liquor. And recently, the University of Virginia implemented restrictions on hard liquor at fraternities and sororities, requiring that a bartender be hired to serve hard liquor at events.

On a more positive note, the College of Charleston earned a No. 13 spot in “College City Gets High Marks” category, which is based on students’ perceptions of the surrounding city. Also, the college was listed as one of the “Best Southeastern Colleges” and as one of the nation’s most environmentally responsible colleges.

The University of South Carolina


As a former student, it’s disappointing to see the University of South Carolina lacking notable accomplishments this year. The Columbia-based university was listed as one of the “Best Southeastern Colleges” and as one of the nation’s most environmentally responsible colleges. But that’s no surprise considering the university has an entire dorm called “Green Quad” that’s dedicated to sustainable practices. It even has a community gardening program and greenhouse for residents to grow food. However, it doesn’t make up for the fact that the university earned the No. 17 spot in the “Students Study the Least” category, which is based on the survey question, “How many out-of-class hours do you spend studying each day?”It’s safe to assume that the Princeton Review didn’t survey students at Thomas Cooper Library. 


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