Complementing its high rankings in the latest editions of various college guides, Thomas Aquinas College has earned a spot among the nation’s top colleges and universities, according to Washington Monthly. The magazine, which rates schools “based on what they are doing for the country,” included some 606 colleges and universities nationwide for its 2021 list. Thomas Aquinas College ranks in the top 100 of the magazine’s list of liberal arts colleges and the Top 50 among schools that offer the “Best Bang for the Buck” in the Western United States.
Whereas most college guides rely on “crude and easily manipulated measures of wealth, exclusivity, and prestige,” Washington Monthly’s editors argue that theirs aims for a more noble measure: “contribution to the public good.” To that end, Washington Monthly considers three equally weighted criteria in compiling its rankings: social mobility (the extent to which schools recruit and graduate low-income students), service (encouraging students to contribute meaningfully to their communities), and research (professors’ scholarly contributions to their academic fields). “Top-ranked colleges needed to be excellent across the full breadth of our measures,” the guide notes, “rather than excelling in just one measure.”
The emphasis on research makes Thomas Aquinas College’s high placement on the list all the more remarkable. “Although many of our tutors publish excellent scholarly work, the College has never imposed research requirements on its faculty, so that tutors can focus their efforts on their primary responsibility — teaching,” explains Director of Communications Chris Weinkopf. “That the College still ranked so highly on Washington Monthly’s list is a testament both to our tutors’ professional accomplishments and to how well we scored in the social mobility and service categories.”
Thomas Aquinas College has a long-established reputation for “social mobility.” Committed, since its founding, to never turning away qualified students on the basis of financial need, the College offers a robust financial aid program that supports more than 70 percent of its student body. By God’s grace and thanks to the generous benefactors who make this program possible, students graduate from Thomas Aquinas College with, on average, nearly half the educational debt of their peers at other private colleges and universities, and significantly less, even, than most graduates of public institutions.
As for service, some 10 percent of Thomas Aquinas College students enter the priesthood or religious life. Roughly one-third, eager to share the gifts of their classical liberal education, become teachers, at all levels, from kindergarten to graduate school. Others still pursue careers in law, medicine, media, public service, or numerous other fields, with an eye toward serving the public good. The College’s graduates also often marry and go on to have fruitful, faithful families that contribute to their communities in myriad ways.
“It is heartening to see our alumni recognized for the good they do in the Church and in the world,” says Mr. Weinkopf. “We are grateful that Washington Monthly is evaluating colleges on the basis of their contributions to the public good, and we are delighted to be included on its list.”