5/9/2011 - College hopefuls look for green universities
by By Mary Beth Marklein, USA TODAY
GREEN MEANS GO! NC Colleges and Universities are ranking near the top in reviews all across the country!
Green means eco-friendly, and 69% of college applicants this year say having information about a college's commitment to environmental issues would contribute to their decision to apply to or attend the school, according to a survey of 8,200 students by The Princeton Review. That's up from 64% in 2008.
Academic reputation and financial aid still matter most, but "the environmental factor (is) definitely one of the things that makes a difference," says Tucker Johnson, 19, of Harrison, Maine, who was offered admission to nine schools and must commit to one by May 1. Like other students nationwide, he is visiting campuses this month with a checklist of criteria. Among them: a sincere commitment to sustainability.
Colleges are responding in kind, touting environmental-minded academic programs, green buildings for living and learning and opportunities for students to make a difference.
"Many more schools are simply talking about their commitment to the environment because so many college-bound students are asking those questions," says Robert Franek, senior vice president of publishing for The Princeton Review, which today is releasing a free downloadable Guide to 311 Green Colleges. The guide, published in partnership with the U.S. Green Building Council, also is available at usatoday.com.
Colleges were selected based on a range of factors, including how much local food is served, how much waste is diverted from landfills and whether transportation options such as free bus passes or car shares are offered.
Students are "incredibly smart consumers, and they make their decisions based on a pretty deep understanding" of sustainability, says Rachel Gutter, director of the council's Center for Green Schools.
What they're finding:
oCollege of the Atlantic in Bar Harbor, Maine, includes the travel mileage of every prospective student who comes to visit as part of the carbon debt it must offset to remain carbon-neutral.
oAt Elon University in Elon, N.C., a touch-screen allows students and parents to monitor energy and water consumption in real time at the school's greenest building, one of the first stops on campus tours.
oAt Warren Wilson College in Asheville, N.C., prospective students can "see, hear and smell best practices" in sustainability on the school's Green Walkabout; stops include an Eco Dorm, farm and recycling center.
"We celebrate that mainstream colleges and universities have embraced this, but it is humorous," says Richard Blomgren, Warren Wilson's vice president of admission. "We've been doing it as a way of life for so long. Many of the major initiatives we've done over the decade have been student-driven."
Scroll through the embedded guide or click on the headline, below, to go to a downloadable and searchable version of this guide.