List: Merchant Academy has 'least happy students'

Graduation day at the United States Merchant Marine

Graduation day at the United States Merchant Marine Academy. / Photo by Charles Eckert / June 23, 2009

The United States Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point - where incoming freshmen arrive for "indoctrination" rather than orientation - got a No. 1 ranking Monday: on a well-known college guide's top-20 list of schools with the "least happy students."

Stony Brook University ranked No. 3 on the list.

The Princeton Review's "The Best 371 Colleges," 2010 edition, is based on 122,000 student surveys, most collected online, with an average of 325 per campus. Students ranked colleges for 62 lists, from satisfaction with financial aid and dorms to gay acceptance and best college radio.

Both Stony Brook and the Merchant Marine Academy also showed up in the top 20 for "Long Lines and Red Tape," and "Class Discussion Rare."

It wasn't all bad. The guide named both Stony Brook and the Academy as a "Best Northeastern College," and quotes Academy midshipmen who said it fosters "an environment that pushes you to the limit," and is "tough as hell, but worth every minute."

An Academy spokesman could not be reached for comment.

Stony Brook has shown up on many lists of top American universities. But the guidebook may have struck a nerve with at least some students there. Senior Jesse Gotay, 23, praised his small athletic training degree program, but agreed that class discussion was indeed rare, at least in large lecture classes. "With 500 kids, you don't want to be the kid who raises his hand."

"We've improved," said Stony Brook spokeswoman Lauren Sheprow. "For example, this year we're not ranked in the ugliest campus category. That's a plus."

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