For several years, Thomas Aquinas College has ranked near the top of U.S. News & World Report’s annual measure of “yield” — the percentage of applicants who, upon being admitted to a college, choose to enroll there. Although heartening, these findings have told only half of the story. While it is good to know that prospective students want to attend the College, what about students who actually do so? What becomes of their initial enthusiasm in the years after graduation?
This year the College has an answer to that question. In addition to ranking, once again, among the nation’s best for yield , the College has also earned a “Top 10” ranking for alumni satisfaction . Thomas Aquinas is the only Catholic college in the United States to make this top tier of both categories.
“What these surveys indicate is very positive,” says President Michael F. McLean. “They suggest, first, that we are communicating the mission and unique nature of the College well to prospective students — they like what they see and they want to enroll. Moreover, their admiration for the College endures. They arrive with very high expectations, and they leave with those expectations fulfilled, and in many cases even exceeded.”
In its 2011 survey US News ranks Thomas Aquinas College as the fifth “most popular” among all national liberal arts schools for yield, which the magazine calls “one of the best indicators of a school’s popularity among students.” This high rate, says Thomas Aquinas College Director of Admissions Jon Daly, is evidence of the desirability of the College’s program of Catholic liberal education.
“The decision about where to spend the next four years of their lives is one that most students do not make lightly,” Mr. Daly notes. “That those of our applicants who are admitted overwhelmingly choose to come here shows a real commitment on their part to classical education taught under the light of faith.”
The College’s ability to attract and admit students who are a good fit for its program is borne out by its retention and graduation rates. Some 82 percent of Thomas Aquinas College freshmen return as sophomores (compared to 75 percent nationwide), and roughly that same percentage completes the program within six years (as opposed to 60 percent nationally).
Given these trends it stands to reason that the College would also score well in terms of alumni satisfaction, which US News measures by the percentage of graduates who support their alma maters financially. “Alumni school spirit can manifest itself in many ways — from sideline support at athletic events to networking with current students,” says US News’ Katy Hopkins. But a more objective measure, she adds, “is the percent of graduates who give money back to their school.”
In its survey of alumni at more than 1,700 institutions nationwide, the magazine ranked Thomas Aquinas College as number 10 in terms of alumni-giving percentage. The College was the only Catholic institution to make the “Top 20” list.
“I often say that outside of the normal course of the Catholic life, and besides marrying my wife, the best decision I ever made was to attend Thomas Aquinas College,” says Jonathan Monnereau (’05), president of the Alumni Association. “The deepening of my faith, the unique education I received, the friendships established — all of these are invaluable gifts. These sentiments are shared by many other graduates. Recognizing the privilege and benefits of receiving such a unique and valuable formation, we alumni of the College are especially grateful to our beloved alma mater.”
The College is likewise grateful for the support of its alumni. “We think there is no better testament to the value of this program than the good works and holy lives of our graduates,” says Dr. McLean. “And we take it as high praise that our alumni are so loyal to the College. That so many would choose to contribute financially speaks to what a worthwhile investment they consider a Thomas Aquinas College education to be.”