Forbes magazine recently released its third annual “America’s Best Colleges” ranking for 2010. Of the more than 6,600 accredited postsecondary institutions that Forbes considered, only 610 colleges and universities made their list. Forbes ranking places St. Mary’s in the top seven percent of all accredited postsecondary institutions nationwide.
The Forbes “America’s Best Colleges” ranking is unique because it focuses on issues identified by incoming students that are important to them in choosing a college or university, “To our way of thinking a good college is one that meets student needs.” The five areas identified by students and examined for the rankings are: 1) the availability of interesting courses and unique degree plans; 2) four year graduation rate; 3) employment opportunities and long-term earning potential; 4) student indebtness; 5) and the potential for students to win national awards. The rankings were compiled with research from the Center for College Affordability & Productivity using 10 different sources of publicly reported data.
When Forbes examined St. Mary’s in these categories, they found that we offer more than 50 undergraduate majors leading to a degree and more than 40 graduate and law programs. Unique tracks include a pre-med concentration within the engineering science degree program, bachelor’s of science and a bachelor’s of arts degrees in forensic science. Students can also participate in a student-managed business, student-managed investment portfolio, or build a solar panel system for the University’s annual scholarship fundraising event.
According to a report just released in July online salary-tracker PayScale.com, St. Mary’s graduates’ mid-career salaries (long-term earning potential) place them 59th among 305 Southern Colleges. This ranking places St. Mary’s University first in San Antonio and fourth among Texas’ private colleges and universities. PayScale.com’s data was used for the Forbes “America’s Best Colleges” 2011 ranking.
College indebtness is a serious concern for students and St. Mary’s is doing its part to respond to students financial needs by offering more scholarships to help defer costs. By Undergraduate students at St. Mary’s received $27.1 million in grants and academic scholarships, plus $2.1 million in athletic scholarships, for a total of $29.2 million scholarships awarded in 2009-2010.
The personal attention that students receive from St. Mary’s faculty not only helps them succeed in their endeavors here on campus, but also on the national academic stage. Student honors include winning prestigious scholarships and fellowships, such as the Fulbright and Charles B. Rangel respectively. Student awards include winning first place in the National Collegiate Entrepreneurs’ Organization Elevator Pitch Competition and Society of Physics students winning the Mash W. White Award for their community outreach projects. Student-athletes have also won national academic awards. In 2008-2009, the men’s golf team that was named Academic National Champions by the Golf Coaches Association of America for maintaining a cumulative 3.62 GPA. St. Mary’s is home to more than a dozen Academic All-Americans and nearly 250 student-athletes who have earned regional or national academic awards. St. Mary’s student-athletes graduation rate is 63 percent, higher than the NCAA Division II average of 55 percent.
Just this week, U.S. News & World Report released its 2011 edition of “America’s Best Colleges” ranking St. Mary’s seventh in the West Region in the “Great Schools, Great Prices” and in the top 20 academically. On August 9, The Education Trust recognized St. Mary’s as one of the nation’s best among colleges and universities for graduating Hispanics at the same rate as other students. St. Mary’s average six-year graduation rate of all students is 60 percent.