For collegians, stress may equal happiness

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The Daily Beast, a popular national Web site founded by former Vanity Fair and New Yorker editor Tina Brown, recently released its rankings of the 50 most stressful and the 100 happiest colleges in the United States.

There was some good news for apprehensive high school graduates who plan to attend either C.U. Boulder, 89th happiest, or Colorado College, 17th.
But don’t be too cheerful just yet. A careful perusal of the rankings revealed some interesting anomalies.

Stress-inducing colleges were ranked according to four metrics.

Cost: Financial pressure is a huge stress-inducer. The study weighted tuition plus room and board at 35 percent.

Competitiveness: The academic rigor of schools was weighted at 35 percent.

Engineering: The study weighted the rigor of a school’s graduate engineering program at 10 percent.

Crime on campus: Adapted from The Daily Beast’s analysis of college crime, this aspect was weighted at 10 percent.

Stanford led the stressed-out brigade, followed by Columbia, MIT, Penn, Harvard, Princeton, Vanderbilt, Carnegie Mellon, Caltech, and Northwestern. No surprises there – all 10 schools are expensive, fiercely competitive institutions, and at least four have “particularly rigorous graduate engineering programs.”

Let’s examine the top 10 happiest colleges. The jolly students at Claremont lead the pack, followed by the happy-go-lucky youngsters at Harvard, Pomona, Rice, Harvey Mudd, Scripps, Stanford, Caltech, Yale, and Bowdoin.

Going a little deeper, the rankings revealed that nine of the 10 most stressful colleges were among the 50 happiest colleges.

Does stress create happiness? That might surprise many American workers, but the Daily Beast’s research suggests a correlation between the two.

If you disagree, perhaps your job simply isn’t stressful enough.