During Christmas break, Olivet students scattered all across the globe boasted to Facebook and Twitter friends their school’s biggest accomplishment since the Student Recreation Center – being named one of the friendliest campuses by the Huffington Post.
Olivet placed 13 out of a survey of 589 schools from data assembled by Niche, a site that ranks colleges based on aspects of social life, community and academics.
Niche boasts that their rankings are the most sound on the Internet. “By incorporating 11,857,508 opinions from 294,497 students and more than 50 statistical factors, we’re confident these are the most comprehensive college rankings to date.”
Junior Michael Krebell isn’t surprised by this recognition and was happy to see Olivet earn that title. “Olivet provides opportunities for close personal friends, and what that brings is just more meaningful, [trusting relationships].”
Alexandra Svokos, author for the Huffington Post, said many schools to make the list’s top 20 were “small, religious schools.”
Svokos implies that there may be a correlation between small-town schools of faith and positive attitudes.
Krebill agrees that Olivet has a young demographic and different core values that affect students’ outlook, but believes that being kind to others is a value that is present outside.
“If I interact with someone, I expect [friendliness] to be there regardless. I don’t expect someone to be downright mean or cold. I don’t believe that that’s people’s innate response.”
Friendliness can be a smile or a wave, or being inclusive and supportive, or a host of countless other things. So what is about Olivet students that earn them their top twenty ranking?
“It definitely has to be the Holy Spirit on this campus that [causes] people to have a love and concern for each other,” Student Body President junior Chelsea Risinger said. “The majority of students on campus are pursuing a relationship with Christ or are sensitive to God. When that’s at the focus of so many people’s lives, it’s natural for His love to pour out.”
To add to the campus’ resume, Olivet also appeared in the third ranking for campuses in Illinois with the most attractive girls and the most attractive guys.
But the validity of these rankings is worth questioning, in light that each was based off of rankings from no more than 40 responders.
Risinger wishes there were more responders to Niche’s survey to strengthen the representative number. “Statistically speaking, [40 respondents] is really low. The data would be stronger if they had a larger sample size return the feedback. That would be optimal.”
The low low-response rate doesn’t change that students gave Olivet a high ranking – 4.2 on a scale of one to five.
“I don’t think it changes the validity of it because what you’re comparing is in congruence to what people are saying,” Risinger said.
Though being friendly and being attractive are great traits for students to have, they should not take precedence over more valuable characteristics, such as honesty, integrity and compassion.
“If [friendliness] is going to have any meaning to it, it needs to go deeper than just a friendly face,” said Risinger.
Krebill deems both titles to be superficial – though they sound nice, they don’t necessarily reflect someone’s true self.
He added, “There’s pretty people everywhere and there’s friendly people everywhere, but that doesn’t really mean a lot when you get down to the end of things because there’s more that lies beyond it.”