Welcome, Freshmen!

As a huge wave of first-year students surges into dorms, TIME honors four colleges that know how to help newcomers survive and thrive

Finis origine pendet," the Roman poet Manlius wrote. "The end depends on the beginning." Success in life hinges on how well we are reared--and what we learn in school. More than ever these days, getting off to a good start in college can make the difference between getting a degree and giving up. That makes the passage from teenager at home to first-year college student one of the most stressful and important transitions in life.

Many popular guides to American colleges rate them on such factors as the number of volumes in the library, the percentage of faculty with Ph.D.s...

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