We Found Out Why Students Are So In Love With This University

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How much do you love your school?

Whatever your answer is, it can’t compare to what students from Bishop’s University say.

We surveyed 40,000 students from 137 schools across Canada, and this small, English-speaking university in Quebec came out on top. Bishop’s University performed better than any other university in Canada with thirty top-ten placements in our rankings—nearly 500% more than the average school.

But it doesn’t end there.

Bishop’s was ranked #1 across ten categories, which is astounding since the next highest school has only six top rankings, and the next highest after that has only three.

Bishop’s #1 Placements in 2016/17 CampusRankings (University Category)

• Best Overall Value • Best Study Abroad Program
• Best Sports and Recreation Centres • Most Involved Students
• Safest on Campus • Best for Starting Clubs & Committees
• Friendliest Students • Most Recommended by Students
• Most Athletic Students • Most Fun Schools

We started to get curious. What makes Bishop’s students love their school more than any other group of students? What’s their secret?

To find out, I interviewed a variety of Bishop’s professors, students, student council members, and even some alumni. I was determined to discover why students loved Bishop’s so much—and how this small undergraduate-focused school can beat the Goliaths of the university world in so many areas. Here’s what I uncovered.

Secret #1: It’s not a school, it’s a family.

At Bishop’s, it’s not just about going to classes and going home: it’s about building a life. Given the welcoming atmosphere there, it’s no surprise that students feel like they’ve become part of the #BleedPurple family from their first day.

“As you walk past people on the campus, they’ll smile and say hello, even when you don’t know them,” said Aiden McGillis, Environmental Science major and Captain of the Women’s Soccer Team at Bishop’s.

And unlike other schools, it’s more than just a slogan—it’s a feeling that students bring to everything.

“Bleeding purple means taking pride in everything you do, whether it is academics, student government, community involvement, or athletics. Not only that, but it’s the sense of community you feel when you even think about the Bishop’s bubble,” said Aiden.

Being a student at Bishop’s also means a commitment that’s almost impossible to find at any other school.

“The way students feel about Bishop’s is something close to the patriotism they feel for their country,” said Josh Bray, an Environmental Science & Biodiversity double major who’s on the Men’s Rugby team. (They’re not known as the Gaiter Nation for nothing!)

This power is fostered through rituals like their school song, “Raise a Toast”, which everyone is sure to know by heart after their first few weeks on campus. It’s also fueled by the pride students take in their sports teams, where they dress up in purple and showing up to cheer on their favourite players.

Even alumni come back to attend their games—years after they’ve finished their undergrad. It’s not rare to see an 80-year-old Bishop’s couple cheering on the Gaiters while wearing their vintage purple BU sweaters and caps.

Secret #2: Profs use a ‘discover together’ approach.

At many universities, it can be difficult to build a connection with your professors. Some students feel like they are just a face in the crowd, listening to monologues and taking notes. Professors at Bishop’s, on the other hand, truly believe in their students’ ability to succeed—and are always available when you need help.

“What I see in my colleagues here is a deep respect for the voices of their student interlocutors, an abiding belief in their capacity as speakers, writers and actors in the world,” said Dr. James Crooks, professor of Philosophy at Bishop’s. “I think the students sense this respect and do everything they can to measure up to it.”

That’s because Bleeding Purple isn’t just for students. It’s also clear in the commitment that professors and staff have for the community.

“The professors, advisors, and leaders of the institution show us firsthand that they have such pride in being part of the BU community and they show their love for the students by caring about the success of each and every one of us,” added Aiden.

The emphasis is on discovering together, and building a community where students can feel comfortable sharing their ideas.

“Students here have a real and robust sense of owning the process of their own education,” said Professor Crooks.

Plus, rather than having 500+ students per first-year class, they have an average of only 36 students per first-year class, and a maximum classroom size of 134.

“Given the intimate class sizes, I feel like I can build in-class relationships with students where they are more likely to feel comfortable discussing their ideas,” said Professor Michael Teed, an associate professor of Human Resources at the Williams School of Business.

With these kinds of opportunities, it’s easy to see why Bishop’s students feel like they’re getting special treatment compared to any other university.

Secret #3: Extracurriculars aren’t a bonus—they’re a focus.

No matter your interests, there’s a way for you to get involved at Bishop’s. With almost 70 different clubs on campus, there’s sure to be one you’ll like—or you can start your own.

“If you have something that you’re passionate about, make your own club, class or event or whatever it may be. Bishop’s provides students with so many opportunities. All you have to do is get out there and grab them!” said Aiden.

This includes opportunities that you’ll never forget—or get the chance to do anywhere else. For example, Professor Crooks mentioned that his students had the chance to perform a piece of Bach’s with a local symphony conductor.

“One of the students, who was new to the experience of singing with an orchestra, said that she felt utterly transformed by the experience,” said Professor Crooks.

Some programs, such as Arts Administration or Sports Studies, can include an internship component, meaning that you’re getting real-world experience before finishing your degree.

With all the chances available for Bishop’s students, it’s no surprise that they Bleed Purple even when they’ve finished studying there.

“Bleeding purple is most of all the everlasting love of the little school that made a big impact on who you are and who you aspire to be after your days here are done,” said Aiden.

Like what you see? We’re giving away $3,000 in tuition to Bishop’s University this week.

Tatiana Morand

Tatiana is Head of Content at CampusRankings. You can usually find her drinking coffee and exploring the streets of Toronto.