(Editor’s note: As part of Money’s coverage of “best value” colleges, the magazine produced a video highlighting Texas A&M.)
Texas A&M University is cited by Money magazine as one of the “best colleges in America for your money” — and first in its best-value listings of “Great Schools You Can Actually Get Into.”
University officials say they subscribe to the magazine’s basic precept but offer perspective about admissions realities as they strive to continue to carry out the institution’s land-grant heritage.
The favorable Texas A&M findings are included in Money’s just-released second annual “Best Colleges” listings — listings that the magazine’s editors say is a “value ranking” that evaluates colleges on measures of educational quality, affordability and career earnings. They say it is intended to help families find great schools that are truly worth the investment.
In addition to heading the magazine’s list of the “Great Schools You Can Actually Get Into,” Texas A&M placed 20th in Money’s overall rankings and sixth among land-grant colleges.
Texas A&M officials say they welcome such assessments that underscore the university’s land-grant role and tradition of offering affordable high-quality education on a broad basis, but they emphasize the institution, regrettably, cannot accept all of the students who apply — even having to turn away many who have good credentials. They cite space restrictions and limited resources — personnel, fiscal and related factors — as the basis for not being able to offer admission to all the qualified students who apply for enrollment.
Even so, Texas A&M each year has one of the largest freshman classes in the nation—with a class of 9,900 currently projected for the new school year beginning Sept. 1. Overall, the university’s enrollment totaled 62,185 — 55,809 on the College Station campus — last year to rank among the largest and most diversified universities in the nation.
“Unlike some other college rankings, this one focuses on the true value of an education and on the return on investment for parents and students,” said John Sharp, Chancellor of The Texas A&M University System. “This resonates with us at the Texas A&M System since we focus on accessibility and affordability. We’re honored to have Texas A&M ranked so highly on the Money list of Best Colleges, and delighted that Texas A&M International University is ranked as well. Congratulations to the leadership, faculty and staff at both of these schools for this achievement.”
Texas A&M President Michael K. Young cited the university’s longstanding record for offering affordable and high-quality educational opportunities to thousands of young men and women.
“Texas A&M is known for offering extraordinarily high-quality degree programs at a reasonable price, as well as leadership development opportunities through over 1,000 student-led organizations,” President Young said. “This combination helps us attract some of the nation’s best and brightest students and faculty while we also fulfill our land-grant mission of serving the people of Texas and beyond through teaching, research and outreach.”
Money’s Texas A&M article includes information about the university generally, including its acceptance ratio for applying students, and offers assessments concerning how the university’s graduates have traditionally fared in the marketplace.
It also includes student testimonials. One of the students offered this assessment: “Texas A&M University more than anything is a family. Once you’re an Aggie you will always be an Aggie and that’s absolutely the best characteristic of my school. Unlike other universities of comparable size, here no student is ever forgotten. At A&M it doesn’t matter if you pass away your first month of attendance or 90 years later, we will honor and recognize you individually through Silver Taps or Aggie Muster (the university’s unique memorial services). Silver Taps is a hauntingly beautiful tradition where Aggies gather the first Tuesday of every month to recognize current students whose lives have ended.”
Another student focused in part on the practical aspects of earning a degree at Texas A&M, saying: “The course selection at A&M allows students to complete their degree requirements while exploring areas of interest not necessarily associated with their chosen major.”
The magazine ranks more than 700 schools on 21 measures, assessing quality of education, affordability and alumni success. To develop the rankings, senior writer Kim Clark and deputy editor Ellen Stark collaborated with Mark Schneider, former head of the National Center for Education Statistics and current president of College Measures. The website PayScale.com provided earnings data for schools’ alumni, as well as analysis of those earnings based on what types of majors predominate at the schools.
The Money staffers underscore that it’s not just elite institutions that can deliver a great education and include many colleges and universities that don’t typically show up on “best” lists. “A school’s name isn’t everything: results are. You may be surprised that schools you may never have heard of will give you a better shot at success,” Schneider notes.
Diane Harris, the magazine’s editor, notes in her editor’s letter that “our list stands apart from other rankings in the smartness of its methodology and the objectivity of the data.” Soaring tuition, crippling levels of student debt and a highly competitive job market for new grads have raised the stakes for college-bound families, Harris says. “Finding a school that delivers great value — a quality education at an affordable price while helping students launch promising careers — is no longer just the preferable approach for families, it’s imperative.”