Here’s The Princeton Review’s list of colleges with the happiest students for 2017:
- Rice University
- University of Dayton
- Auburn University
- University of Iowa
- Kansas State University
- Virginia Tech
- University of California — Santa Barbara
- Colby College
- Claremont McKenna
Perhaps the list is accurate, and perhaps not. It doesn’t matter.
What does matter is how we understand happiness. Last month, in my interview with Provost Terry Brown, she reflected on where happiness comes from (note: the order of questions is slightly rearranged):
“Dr. Brown: Everything tells us that personal happiness comes from relationship. Not just the intimate relationship of family and friends, but the relationship you have with your neighbor, and with your community, and with your co-workers. I think what makes those relationships work is people who care.”
Maloney: Care about other people?
Dr. Brown: About everything. Students who are curious, who wonder, who want to know, who want to make a difference, who want to make things better, who want to help the next person. It just gets to me that people don’t care. I have to say that that’s what we’re doing here. Our job isn’t just to make sure that you get what you want in life, as a student. Not you, but…
Maloney: No, it probably was me.
Dr. Brown: Our job isn’t just about you, and making you happy. That’s not what this work is, and that’s not why I get up and come to school. It’s not, “How many individual students can I make happy today? Or faculty and staff.” That’s not our work. Our work really is to prepare students to go out and to be part of a workplace, a community, a family, a society, in a way that makes it all better.”
You make the choice, every day, how much to care.
The rankings don’t matter. Your choice does.