Choosing the right college is a hugely important choice, not just for the next few years of your life as you enter young adulthood, but potentially for the rest of your life.

And while academic factors are undoubtedly a massive factor when it comes to choosing which college to enroll with, it’s not the only thing to take into account.

Whether it’s the social and sporting side of things, safety on campus, or knowing that your new home for the next few years is run in an ethical and sustainable way, there are lots of other factors that prospective students may consider when choosing where to study, so we’ve created the 2021 Ultimate Alternative College Guide, analyzing 50 of the country’s biggest universities on six alternative factors.

2021 Ultimate Alternative College Guide

Key Bars Within One Mile of Campus Quality of Life Crimes on Campus Since 2001 (per 10,000 students) Students Who Are Part of a Sports Team Registered Student Organizations (per 10,000 students) Sustainability




Overall Score

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We looked at the 50 biggest universities for which data was available, giving each one a normalized score out of 100 on the following six factors, before taking an average score across all six for our overall score.


The number of bars within a one-mile radius of the campus, according to Yelp.

Quality of Life

A rating out of 99 according to the Princeton Review which measures how happy students are with their lives outside of the classroom, including things such as the location and beauty of the campus, comfort of dorms, quality of food, etc.


The number of criminal offenses on campus between 2001 and 2018 (per 10,000 undergraduate students) according to the U.S. Department of Education’s Campus Safety and Security data.

Sports Participation

The number of students who participated in a sports team (per 10,000 undergraduates) in 2018, according to the U.S. Department of Education’s Equity in Athletics data.

Student Organizations

The number of registered student organizations (per 10,000 undergraduates) according to the Princeton Review.


A ‘green rating’ out of 99 according to the Princeton Review, based on the university’s performance as an environmentally aware and prepared institution, including whether students have a campus quality of life that is both healthy and sustainable, how well a school is preparing students for employment in the clean-energy economy of the 21st century as well as for citizenship in a world now defined by environmental concerns and opportunities, and how environmentally responsible a school's policies are.

Note that colleges that didn’t supply enough data for this rating were given a score of 60 by the Princeton Review.