When choosing a college, what factors do seniors think are the most important? They’ve gotten through eleven semesters of high school, written countless essays “selling themselves” in less than five hundred words to multiple colleges, and received both rejections and acceptances. So now it’s time to burn the rejection letters and make pro and con lists for the acceptances. Luckily, websites compiling all the relevant statistics (including academics, athletics, campus food, housing, and of course, how hot the classmates will be) abound. In this case, we’re taking a closer look at how Carleton is ranked on College Prowler (also known as Niche), a site you’ve no doubt heard of or maybe even looked at when you were making your own decision to come to Carleton back in your high school days.
Overall, Niche gives Carleton a grade of A+, ranked #25 of 892 colleges. But of more interest to prospective students are current students’ reviews. What do Carls have to say about academics, campus food, drug safety, and guys and girls? Most of the ratings float around A’s and B’s, with dipping down to C’s and D’s for Off-Campus Housing (there’s that pesky draw system!) and D+ for Drug Safety. Wait, what?
The large red D+ next to Drug Safety contrasts with the reviews that accompany it, most simply mentioning that Carleton certainly isn’t a dry campus and that marijuana can be prevalent if you choose to look for it. Contrary to College Prowler’s rating, which appears to be more of a campus drug scene rating than drug safety itself, the most accurate review mentioned that peer pressure to drink or do drugs is fairly low, mainly “because of the existence of substance free floors in almost every dorm.” The reviewer also added that “most people are responsible and security does a great job of looking after people. There are rarely serious problems.” That being said, Carleton RAs and security do a great job of making sure that the peo- ple who do drink don’t go overboard, and that medical attention is always provided to those who need it, so I’d give Carleton at least a solid B on this one. (Also, not quite sure why Health & Safety is graded A while Drug Safety is a D+?)
The other category that I disagree with was Campus Food, with a grade of A-. The methodology supposedly indicates that “Students are very happy with the quality of campus food” and “Dining services operates during hours convenient for students, including offering late-night food options”. On their best days, both Burton and LDC merit about a B at most. While decent in terms of catering to vegetarians and vegans, Bon Appétit either gets really old really fast, or attempts to reuse leftovers from a previous meal end up with masterpieces like pear, blue cheese, and honey flatbread. Another common complaint was the cost of the meal plan, which is mandatory for freshmen and can only be used at Burton, LDC, and the Sayles Snack Bar. The most voted on response to “What are the worst food options on cam- pus”? Weird food at LDC.
Comparing how College Prowler ranks Carleton and how the experience of being a Carl actually is shows some stark contrasts in more categories than the two I’ve pointed out, but the main takeaway is that you shouldn’t take college reviews as the gospel truth. There’s people who will write paragraphs and paragraphs extolling the virtues of diverse Carl personalities, and there’s reviewers who leave us with the cryptic pearls of wisdom: “I do not know much about it”.