When it comes to providing great food, stellar health services, and overall quality of life, Washington State University Pullman ranks among the best campuses in the nation, according to new rankings published by The Princeton Review.
Among the 388 colleges and universities included in The Princeton Review’s The Best 388 Colleges, WSU ranks No. 6 for best student support and counseling services, No. 13 for best health services, No. 24 for best campus food, and No. 8 for best quality of life.
The book, which is not affiliated with Princeton University, is published annually to help students find colleges that best suit their wants and needs and is based on a survey administered to 160,000 students nationwide.
As a founding member of the American College Health Association (ACHA) with a century-long commitment to serving students, WSU is worthy of its top 25 health rankings, said Joel Schwartzkopf, assistant vice chancellor for student health and well-being in Student Affairs.
In recent years, Cougar Health Services has significantly expanded its mental health services to meet the growing demand among students, and WSU is getting ready to launch a new suite of digital mental health services systemwide.
“…we want to continue to be a campus that students think of as a top‑tier experience for their education, both in the classroom and out.”Joel Schwartzkopf
Assistant vice chancellor for student health and well-being in Student Affairs
Washington State University
“I think we often talk about the entire student experience as part of what makes a campus appealing to a student, but this shows how important a university’s health and wellbeing services are to students as part of their choice of where to study,” Schwartzkopf said. “I do think the rankings are important because we want to continue to be a campus that students think of as a top-tier experience for their education, both in the classroom and out.”
A big part of the out-of-classroom experience for students is sharing meals together. Adam Koerner, senior associate director at WSU Dining Services, said his team works to provide students with new options such as fresh and organic food in The Market in Global Scholars Hall and gluten-and allergy-friendly food in the dining centers, as well as fun locations to eat such as Freshens in the Chinook Student Center. Dining Services even offers a mini meal plan for students, faculty, staff, who live off-campus.
“Breaking the top 25 in the rankings is pretty exciting,” Koerner said. “It gives some legitimacy to the work we are doing and shows our staff and student employees that their work matters, and students are recognizing it.”
Giving students a voice
Both Koerner and Schwartzkopf attribute much of the success in their areas to feedback they receive from students. Cougar Health Services regularly participates in the National College Health Assessment and plans to re-launch a survey administered by the ACHA to measure real-time feedback from students on WSU’s medical services.
“We’ll use that data to ensure we keep making improvements to our services – the kind of improvements that I hope will keep us in the top of the Princeton rankings for years to come,” Schwartzkopf said.
For Dining Services, students play a key advisory role in helping the staff build inclusive menus and environments in all dining locations.
“I appreciate being able to eat pho – a traditional Vietnamese soup – from time to time at Southside,” said Eunica Calara, a senior computer science major from Hawaii. “I like the different cultural cuisines they cook for students.”
Several other student support services made the Princeton Review’s top 25 rankings, including the popularity of intramural sports (#11) and Greek life (#14), as well as WSU’s active student government (#23).
Committed to equity and inclusion
WSU Pullman is also receiving national accolades for its work making communities safer and more welcoming for LGBTQ+ students, faculty, and staff.
Campus Pride, a well-known resource for LGBTQ+ leadership development, inclusion, and advocacy within higher education, recently included WSU in its annual Best of the Best LGBTQ+ friendly campuses in the United States.
Among the 40 higher education institutions recognized, WSU and the University of Colorado are the only Pac-12 schools to make the list, and WSU is the only institution in Washington.
“This recognition is especially important for prospective students to see,” said Matthew Jeffries, director of campus climate and community building in Student Affairs. “While we are in a rural area, we are deeply committed to our values of equity and inclusion.”