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. For its 2022 list, the magazine rated over 600 schools nationwide “based on what they do for the country.” Thomas Aquinas College ranks high among those 600 schools, landing among the magazine’s top 100 liberal arts colleges, as well as among its top 50 schools offering 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.” The magazine calculates such contribution by considering three equally weighted criteria: 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,” notes the magazine, “rather than excelling in just one.”
The integral 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.”
Indeed, Thomas Aquinas College has a long-established reputation for “social mobility.” Since its founding, the College has refused to turn away otherwise qualified students because of financial need, offering a robust financial aid program that supports more than 75 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 student debt their peers accumulate at other private colleges and universities, and considerably less 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. Still others 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.”