What exactly makes a college “fit”? Well, just as you would determine a person's level of fitness, we take a handful of different factors into consideration when setting out to name America’s “fittest” colleges.
Do students have easy access to a variety of athletic activities and facilities? If so, does a large portion of the student body regularly put them to use? What’s the campus dining situation like? Are students generally happy? What’s the overall quality of life like on campus?
These are just a few of the questions we ask as we set out to rank our list of the 50 fittest colleges each year.
This is our third annual attempt to define the best of the best, which we openly admit is not an easy task. There are countless esteemed schools to take into consideration, each with their own unique qualities and accolades, but at the end of the day, only 50 fit schools can earn a spot in our rankings.
This year, we began with a preliminary list of 142 colleges compiled from a wide variety of sources. First we consulted our own lists of the top 50 fittest colleges from 2013 and 2014. Then we considered schools that currently hold a top 50 spot in U.S. News and World Report’s “Best Colleges Rankings.” Additionally, since 2014, we’ve made a point to include the nation’s top military colleges as well.
Next, we considered schools that have been noted for having the happiest students and for providing them with a great quality of life, excellent campus dining options and top-notch athletic facilities by The Princeton Review.
And finally, through reviews and rating on Niche Colleges (formerly College Prowler) we weigh the opinions that matter most — the opinions of the students who currently call these campuses home. From the quality of a school’s sports programs and its campus dining ratings, to the quality of health and safety on campus, we make sure to take their thoughts on all aspects of fitness, health and wellness into consideration.
Once the above data is complied, we begin our scoring process, awarding factors that indicate a wholesome sense of health and wellbeing —such as quality of life, student happiness and participation in recreational activities (both varsity and club or intramural) — with the most weight.
This year each college had the potential to earn a total of 175 points. Our number one school racked-up 130 points and our number two school wasn’t too far behind with a total of 126 points.
What matters more than the points they earned, though, are the healthy and fit qualities that helped each college earn a top-50 spot out of nearly 150 schools that were originally considered.
We know you can’t wait to find out if your school made the list, what newcomers clawed their way up into our ranks this year, and of course, which esteemed institution snagged the honor of being named the fittest college in America — so let’s get right down to business. These are the 50 fittest colleges of 2015. — Katie Rosenbrock
#50 Skidmore College — Saratoga Springs, N.Y.
This school, set on more than 1,000 acres of land is home to one of the smaller student populations, but the college still makes fitness a top priority. Roughly 2,400 students have access to excellent athletic facilities like a six-lane pool with a separate diving well, a human performance laboratory, nine tennis courts and an Olympic-size ice sheet. Pair those facilities with some of the best food options around, 19 varsity sports teams and roughly 20 club and intramural sports teams and you have a small school that’s one of the fittest in the nation.
#49 University of Virginia — Charlottesville, Va.
Making an appearance on our list for the second year in a row, this school is number 23 on U.S. News and World Report’s list of top colleges and according to our assessment, scored points for its exceptional athletic program. UVA ranks at number 45 on Niche Colleges’ list of schools with the best athletics and scores an A+ from its students when it comes to the college’s sports programs and performance. Students at this school are passionate about participating in their favorite sports. Not only does the University of Virginia boast a long and varied list of decorated teams, but for non-varsity athletes the school offers a large selection of both intramural and club sports with everything from basketball and golf to inner tube water polo and Wallyball.