St. Andrews Earns High Marks In National Surveys of Students
For the fourth year, ratings by seniors and first-year students at St. Andrews Presbyterian College placed the college ahead of a peer group of colleges in several areas according to the 2008 release of the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE).
The survey judges how well students across the nation are engaged in their college and community.
"These national surveys are important to St. Andrews because they show how highly our students value their educational experience and they allow us to compare our performance with other institutions," said Paul Baldasare Jr., president of St. Andrews. "We are intentionally committed to developing the entire student, intellectually, socially, and spiritually, and we have a special emphasis on teaching our students how to think critically and analytically.
"We are pleased to note from the results of the survey that the achievements of our students are exceptionally good."
As compared to the average of all colleges surveyed by NSSE, St. Andrews seniors ranked the college significantly higher in three areas: 1) student-faculty interaction, 2) level of academic challenge, and 3) the level of active and collaborative learning.
Robert Hopkins, dean of the college and vice president for academic affairs, says the NSSE cited St. Andrews for the active engagement between students during classes.
"Our students also typically work with our faculty on activities other than coursework," he said. "This creates a significant and binding relationship between our students and our faculty members."
NSSE also said that St. Andrews seniors -- more than most colleges nationwide -- also have a culminating senior project.
"We also highly value our students' participation in campus activities outside class," said Hopkins. "As a whole, St. Andrews also pays particular attention to the social needs of our students, bringing entertainers and other social activities onto campus."
The high marks from the national survey join with two other recent college citations in the past three months. This fall, St. Andrews received recognition from U.S. News & World Report as one of the nation's top liberal arts colleges and from The Princeton Review.
Meanwhile, first-year St. Andrews students placed the college significantly high in several areas.
As a measurement of engagement, NSSE says St. Andrews first-year students typically read more books than students at other colleges. They also typically write more papers and reports.
Like their senior counterparts, St. Andrews first-year students also work on projects outside of the classroom with faculty members and spend a relatively high amount of time weekly on co-curricular activities.
"Reflecting our heritage as a college founded by the Presbyterian Church, our students are more likely to have serious conversations on campus of other religious and political values," said Hopkins.
The national study shows that students who put more time and energy into the activities that matter to their education -- inside and outside the classroom -- learn more during college than those who are not as involved. The benefits include gains in critical thinking, the ability to relate book knowledge to real life, appreciation of cultural differences, self-esteem, confidence, civic engagement, time management, and decision making.
Students at St. Andrews have traditionally been involved in activities beyond the classroom. More than 50 clubs, organizations, and honors groups are offered to students including theatre, chorus, pipe band, Model United Nations and Campus Lions Club.
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