The 10 best campuses in America

Washington University in St. Louis has the best college campus in America, according to a ranking by Niche, a company that compiles and analyzes data about colleges.

Researchers at Niche compiled the ranking by analyzing student surveys, data from the Department of Education, meal plans, on-campus housing, and access to amenities, Abby Jackson writes for Business Insider.

Here are the top 10 campuses, according to Niche:

1. Washington University in St. Louis*
2. Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University*
3. Liberty University
4. Bowdoin College
5. University of California, Los Angeles*
6. California Baptist University*
7. University of Georgia*
8. Grand Canyon University
9. Stanford University
10. Yale University

*Note to readers: EAB congratulates member institutions that were named on the list. Member institutions listed here are marked with an asterisk.

To compete for prospective students—and retain the ones they have—more institutions are re-evaluating previously overlooked campus facilities like residence halls and libraries with student needs in mind.

Research has found that giving students more common areas can help support academic success and retention, so some campuses are creating community-centric residence halls.

Keep reading: How one university promoted student retention with community-centric residence halls

Bowling Green State University (BGSU), for example, built residence halls with unique features, such as communal study spaces and smaller personal rooms, designed to boost underclass student retention. 

With the introduction of the new residence halls, BGSU saw a noteworthy increase in retention rates, from 69% in 2012 to 78% in 2015, writes Michael Fischer for EAB's Facilities Forum.  While other changes also contributed to the rise in retention, campus leaders point to the new residence halls as a critical factor.

And in the campus-wide push to drive students towards degree completion, libraries are emerging as a tool to boost student success, Jeffrey Young wrote for EdSurge in 2017. Many institutions are now tracking electronic library resource usage and visitor numbers to understand how libraries affect academic performance and graduation rates, he writes.

To increase the number of student visitors, Washburn University recently moved its writing lab into the library and replaced the cramped study spaces with more welcoming furniture, says Alan Bearman, the dean of university libraries. Since Washburn began investing in library reforms, the university's retention rate has jumped by 12 percentage points, says Bearman (Jackson, Business Insider, 3/12; Niche rankings, accessed 3/12).

Related: Characteristics of the 21st-century library

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