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Brookings study scores colleges based on “value-added” components
St. Mary’s University sits among the top colleges and universities in the country in a Brookings Institution study, released Wednesday, that shows how well colleges prepare students for careers.

With a score of 99 out of 100, St. Mary’s has the 17th highest value-added score with respect to mid-career salary. This score is the highest in San Antonio and right behind Rice University for best in Texas.

“It is gratifying – but not surprising – that our alumni do so well in their professions,” said President Thomas Mengler. “As I have engaged alumni, it is evident that our graduates are leaders. Our faculty and staff, through their commitment to our Catholic and Marianist mission, instill in our students not only academic excellence but also an understanding that a profession is a vocation, a means to contributing to the common good.”

The St. Mary’s University score of 99 was higher than Harvard (97), Notre Dame (93) and Yale (93), as well as in-state institutions Texas A&M (95), UT-Austin (91), SMU (81), Trinity (79), Baylor (70), Our Lady of the Lake (56), TCU (43), UTSA (22) and Incarnate Word (4).

The Brookings Metropolitan Policy Program report uses both government and private data (from LinkedIn and PayScale) to analyze college value-added, taking into consideration the economic success of the graduates – their incomes, occupations and loan repayment rates. St. Mary’s ranked No. 5 among 49 Texas colleges and universities for salary potential in PayScale’s most recent rankings.

A typical St. Mary’s graduate earns $28,000 more than the predicted mid-career salary, according to the findings. The value-added is the benefit accrued from measurable college quality, such as graduation rates and market value of the skills taught, as well as exceptional leadership or teaching that contribute to student success.

The study identifies five key factors responsible for how well students perform economically in the years after college:

  • Curriculum value and academic preparation
  • Alumni with marketable skills
  • Graduates prepared to work in STEM occupations
  • Graduation completion rates
  • Average financial aid support offered by institutions

The Brookings report measures economic outcomes of about 4,400 two- and four-year colleges. This analysis differs from other annual college rankings in that the “value-added” rankings rely more on colleges’ contributions to student success than solely on student characteristics.

“Only the Brookings measures consistently predict better alumni economic outcomes, once student test scores and family income are considered,” according to its website.

The Brookings Institution is among the United States’ top think tanks. It is a nonprofit public policy organization that does independent research and provides recommendations that “strengthen American democracy; foster economic and social welfare, security and opportunity of all Americans; and secure a more open, safe, prosperous and cooperative international system.”

View the full report: “Beyond College Rankings: A Value-Added Approach to Assessing Two and Four-Year Schools,” by Brookings Fellow Jonathan Rothwell and Senior Research Assistant Siddharth Kulkarni.

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