Dec 9, 2009

Area Colleges Earn 'B Minus' for Weather in Prowler’s Grade Book

Revealing a clear bias toward warm and sunny climates, the editors of the College Prowler give DC area colleges and universities a less-than-satisfying grade of B- for weather. It could be worse. Twenty schools received D’s, and both Notre Dame and Buffalo barely passed with a D- in the weather category.

“A high weather grade designates that temperatures are mild and rarely reach extremes…,” the Prowler explains. “…the campus tends to be sunny rather than rainy, and … weather is fairly consistent rather than unpredictable.” So where are the A+ schools? California.

Once available only through online subscription or by purchasing individual guidebooks, the College Prowler now offers its entire collection of school guides free of charge at In addition to guidebook material, the website also offers students the opportunity to register for a variety of college search services.

The Prowler collects information by employing a staff of student reporters at 270 colleges and universities. These reporters are charged with surveying between 75 and 150 students at each campus to generate editorial reviews and a few scripted statistics. Letter grades (A through F) reflecting aggregate student opinion are assigned in 20 categories ranging from academics to weather.

Because the College Prowler has the uncanny ability to predict what seems really important to high school students, these guides have become enormously popular college search tools. And weather is important—sometimes more important than academics. Waving palm trees or towering pines? Newly fallen snow or sandy beaches? Weather and climate matter to prospective college students.

For American University, the B- weather report card reads, “DC weather tends to be slightly schizophrenic.” The Howard University assessment agrees, “The District often has rather erratic weather patterns.” Across town, the weather at Georgetown is described as “your basic Goldilocks issue…either too hot, too cold, or—in rare cases—just right.” George Washington has “a pretty regular four-season climate.” But out in the suburbs, “College Park (University of Maryland) is a pretty satisfying happy medium for students who love changing seasons.”

Further from DC but tending south, UVA, JMU, Richmond, VCU, Tech, Hampton, Old Dominion, Hollins, and the College of William and Mary outscored the District and earned respectable B’s for weather. Washington and Lee University, however, received a C+ and ranked with colleges in Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, and Hartford. Go figure.

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