Sure, Santa Clara University has a lovely campus. But what really sets it apart -- ready for this -- are the hot coeds. And the guys aren't half bad themselves.
And Stanford might not be Disneyland, but a new survey of America's colleges calls it the happiest one in the country.
Surprised? So were some of the two local schools' students.
The Newsweek survey released Monday listed Santa Clara, the private Jesuit university -- home to the historic Santa Clara Mission, palm trees and abundant rose bushes -- as the second-most beautiful school in the country. The survey combined scores for the attractiveness of the campus, the weather and the hunkiness/hotness of the student body.
With 10 being tops, Santa Clara's campus scored 9.3 for beauty. The attractiveness of the women walloped most of the competition with 9.0. The men apparently need a little work, scoring 8.2.
"I don't think it's like the girls are all super models and the guys don't have a chance," said incoming freshman Allegra Thomas, 17, from Soquel who was on campus Monday taking care of some business before the fall semester starts next month. "But I think there's a lot of diversity in appearances."
And Stanford students are not so convinced the palm-studded launching pad for Google and Tiger Woods is all about smiles.
The happiness survey factored in retention rate, satisfaction and how many students would choose the same school again.
"That sounds more like fear of what would happen if I didn't finish," Pearson said. "I know people who have taken a lot of time off from school. That's speaks to the sentiment that students are very stressed all the time."
Elena Ayala-Hurtado, 20, who is double majoring in English and sociology, said she and many other students fall into the "Stanford Duck Syndrome, where everything seems to be all fine above the water, but the ducks' legs are paddling like crazy underneath."
While happiness may be fleeting at best at Stanford, beauty seems more than skin deep at Santa Clara.
"It's the California sunshine and laid-back atmosphere that makes our personalities shine, which is awesome," said Grant Chang, 18, a Santa Clara freshman-to-be.
Only a small Seventh Day Adventist college in the hills above Napa Valley, Pacific Union College, scored higher in the overall beauty categories, ranking first.
But let's get real here. Students aren't admitted based on looks, and at least two SCU law students didn't appreciate the objectification of women in the survey.
"What we want to focus on is our academic standings," said Kirstie Glass, 22, from Southern California. It was ranked by Forbes this year in the top 100 of "Best U.S. Universities," coming in at 72.
If anything, Lila Milford, 22, of Houston, added, "we're focused on our health and wellness."
The rankings might be a little suspect, anyway. Men at Scripps College rated 6.3 -- and it's an all-women university in Southern California.
Newsweek partnered with The Daily Beast on the survey, using student ratings from College Prowler to come up with its scores.
Contact Julia Prodis Sulek at 408-278-3409.
Several Bay Area universities made the best and worst lists on the Newsweek poll released Monday. They are:
Number 1 Happiest School: Factoring in retention rate, satisfaction and how many would choose the same school again.
Number 9 Most Affordable: With $57,755 annual tuition, factoring in that 72 percent of student receive financial aid, which averages $30,558 per student.
Santa Clara University
Number 2 Most Beautiful: Factors in beauty of campus, weather and student body.
Number 23 Most Affordable: With tuition of $32,632, factoring in that 66 percent of students receive financial aid, which averages $12,757 per student.
University of San Francisco
Number 23 Least Rigorous: Based on percentage of applicants accepted (58 percent); and median score on SATs of 1140 for math and critical reading.
Source: Newsweek from student surveys conducted by College Prowler