The Top U.S. Colleges for Student Experience Dalton State College in Georgia is No. 1, according to the WSJ/College Pulse rankings

 Dalton State College in Georgia gets top marks for the quality of the campus experience it offers, according to the WSJ/College Pulse 2024 Best Colleges in the U.S. rankings. 

Dalton State, located in northwest Georgia, just south of the Tennessee border, is one of several Southern public universities that placed in the top 10 in this category, receiving high scores from students for the quality of its campus and community life. Dalton State is followed by California Baptist University, the University of Houston-Downtown, Savannah State University, and Alcorn State University.

The Florida Institute of Technology, Texas Woman’s University, Oral Roberts University, Pomona College, and Florida International University round out the top 10 schools on the list. 

The Wall Street Journal and College Pulse surveyed over 60,000 students and recent graduates across the country between January and May. To evaluate the quality of students’ college experiences, they were surveyed on their satisfaction with their schools’ facilities, social life, and sense of community and diversity on campus. The Journal also used federal data to evaluate the diversity of schools’ faculty and student bodies with regard to race, socioeconomic background, and other measures.  

Top U.S. Colleges for Student Experience

Students and recent graduates were surveyed on their satisfaction with their schools’ facilities, social life, and sense of community and diversity on campus.

Source: WSJ/College Pulse 2024 Best Colleges in the U.S. ranking

Mackenzie Manley, a senior at Dalton State, says the strong bonds he formed with his classmates and surrounding community have stood out to him throughout his college career. He says the college’s volunteer and professional opportunities, such as his nursing externship at a nearby healthcare facility, bolstered his sense of belonging on and off campus while allowing him to apply his academic knowledge to real-life situations.  

“The concept of this community and being attached to it has given me countless opportunities, not only as a student but as a future professional in my career in nursing,” Manley says.

Kimberly Buckner, also a senior at Dalton State, says the school’s smaller size and multicultural events involving clubs across campus allow her to continually meet students with different backgrounds and majors.  

John Fuchko III, the college’s president, emphasized Dalton State’s status as Georgia’s first Hispanic-Serving Institution, a federal designation awarded to schools where at least 25% of the student population identifies as Hispanic. In fall 2022, about 36% of the school’s students were Hispanic. 

Fuchko says the university strives to foster a diversity of ideas and perspectives among its student body.

“Maintaining a community that ensures our students feel welcome, are engaged, and have access to campus facilities that bolster a transformational student experience is and will continue to be a priority,” Fuchko said in an emailed statement.

Bethany Zimmerman, a senior at Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Okla., says that as a member of the school’s student association, she helps host events such as the annual beginning-of-the-year festival that have given her the opportunity to meet students from different countries pursuing all sorts of degrees.

“It’s a really cool environment to be in because you can learn so much from all these other people,” Zimmerman says.

The president of Oral Roberts, William Wilson, said in an emailed statement that the school has students from more than 150 countries. Of the three components used to calculate the student-experience score, Oral Roberts received its highest rating in the diversity category. 

Elsewhere, Ariana Makar, a senior at Pomona College in Claremont, Calif., says that while the pandemic muted the social life at her school for a time, she appreciates the opportunity to share classes and dining halls with students attending the four other undergraduate schools in the Claremont College consortium: Scripps College, Harvey Mudd College, Pitzer College, and Claremont McKenna College.

Makar says that while she appreciates the newly opened gym and classroom facilities on campus, she would like to see more improvements to the college’s housing facilities and additional resources available for individuals’ mental and emotional well-being.

“It has its basis to improve. But I can never say that they don’t try,” Makar says. “It’s not surprising to me that Pomona is up there.” 

Pomona College said in a statement that students usually live on campus for all four years, which adds to their sense of belonging and community.  

“We want everyone to have the chance to flourish—academically, physically, emotionally and spiritually,” the statement from the college said.

Megan Tagami is a former intern in The Wall Street Journal’s education bureau. For questions or comments, contact Harry Carr, the Journal’s Rankings Editor, at

Post a Comment

Previous Post Next Post