St. Andrews University in Laurinburg has recently been recognized in two prominent rankings of colleges and universities.
St. Andrews was ranked No. 42 out of 120 undergraduate institutions in the southeastern United States by the U.S. News and World Report, which focuses on universities that grant few postgraduate degrees and award less than half of its undergraduate degrees in the liberal arts.
The university was also ranked 13th out of 350 baccalaureate colleges nationwide in Washington Monthly’s 2013 College Rankings.
According to Melissa Hopkins, the university’s communication director, being included in the top 50 of the U.S. News and World Report’s rankings is a “big deal.”
“We’re always happy to be recognized in these various surveys and rankings,” said Paul Baldasare, university president. “I think what they highlight for us is pretty consistent. St. Andrews always fares well and ends up being high up in the rankings and we’re grateful for that. I think it reflects the quality of what we do here.
Two other North Carolina schools, Meredith University in Raleigh and High Point University, ranked in the top three in the Regional College South rankings. Elizabeth City State University topped the list for Washington Monthly.
Baldasare said that the ranking reflects St. Andrews’ focus on preparing students for life after college and encouraging community involvement.
“When I looked at what they were evaluating it on, I wasn’t surprised,” he said. “One of the things they focus on is first-generation college students and we have an increasing number of them. Preparing students for the world of work is something that we do extremely well.”
Baldasare said that more than 90 percent of St. Andrews graduates are either employed or enrolled in a graduate program within six months of graduation.
“I think in this day and time that’s a really important characteristic,” he said.
In addition, St. Andrews graduates typically leave the school with less debt than most private school graduates incur during the course of their education.
“Folks are able to come here, not take on a lot of debt, and are able to lead meaningful lives after they leave,” said Baldasare. “We graduate people who go out and, in addition to their careers, they have a very civic-mindedness about them.”
This year St. Andrews is helping guide first-year students to make informed choices, according to Elizabeth Hernandez, assistant dean of students for Student Engagement. Hernandez has asked this year’s freshman class to create three personal and academic goals for the semester.
“We just want to get them thinking about it,” Hernandez said. “We want to start small. It takes time for 18-year-olds to learn how to make informed choices that match their strongest interests with personal and career opportunities that will be right for them.”
Baldasare said that regardless of where the school places in the myriad systems of college rankings, the school will continue to play to its strengths.
“Preparing students for meaningful careers and meaningful lives is something we’ve historically done well and continue to do well,” he said. “That’s one of the things that is distinctive I think about St. Andrews.”
Laurinburg Exchange|Civitas Media