Value of St. Andrews Education Stressed by Class of 2011
The 120 students in the St. Andrews class of 2011 highly ranked their academic experience at St. Andrews compared with students at other colleges and universities.
That is according to the 2011 National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE).
"NSSE results, linked as they are to important outcomes and benchmarked against other institutions' data, provide college and university faculty and leaders with invaluable guidance on where to invest time, effort and resources to improve student learning and other critical outcomes the nation expects from its higher education institutions," said Daniel F. Sullivan, president emeritus of St. Lawrence University.
The results show that for the fifth consecutive year, St. Andrews University seniors ranked their educational experience well above the national averages in the NSSE benchmark categories. The categories are level of academic challenge; active and collaborative learning; student-faculty interaction; enriching educational experiences; and supportive campus environment.
Members of the class of 2011 ranked St. Andrews higher than the NSSE national average in all categories, as well as in comparison groups including other private schools in the Southeast.
This prestigious annual survey presents data from more than half a million students in 673 U.S. colleges and universities who filled out an extensive questionnaire asking them to rate their educational experiences.
"These high rankings by our graduating seniors clearly show why St. Andrews is consistently in the top tier among regional colleges and universities in the U.S. News & World Report rankings," said University President Paul Baldasare. "Our students feel that they are challenged academically to do their best work. They appreciate the willingness of faculty members to work with them outside the classroom. They see themselves as active learners collaborating with both other students and their professors, not just passive listeners in mega-size classes so common at other schools."
Joanna Hipp, a 2011 graduate now studying at Louisville Theological Seminary, agrees with the active learning assessment.
"The liberal arts education I received at St. Andrews has prepared me for the future," Hipp said. "In seminary, we have to make connections to different areas of life. In honors, I remember complaining about the science portion of our class. A few weeks ago, the discussion of the double-slit physics experiment came up. I was one of the few people who knew what it was and how it works. Making connections is what life after college is all about."
Fellow graduate Fiona Lindsay Delfino agrees that the education she received at St. Andrews prepared her to face challenges in the business world as a therapeutic horsemanship major with a business minor.
"I am so grateful to the business professors for using real life examples in the classroom," Delfino said. "I have had so many opportunities to show my business related skills as the program director for Horses Helping People, Inc. (HOPE)."
The official NSSE report focused on the value of connecting student engagement results to specific campus programs and units to encourage greater collaboration.
"The central message is that providing opportunities, activities and environments supportive of learning and student success is a concern that should permeate the campus," said Alexander C. McCormick, NSSE director.
That effort is something St. Andrews has made successfully throughout its history, according to Baldasare.
"We have made a concerted effort to meet the academic needs of our students through our innovative general education curriculum while also creating programs outside the classroom to develop the whole person," Baldasare said. "Our greatest satisfaction comes from watching our students move from incoming freshmen to successful alumni in leadership roles in their chosen professions serving the larger communities in which they live and work."
"I do not know many other colleges where you get to know your president, where you can just walk into his office, or any professor's office for that matter," she said. "Professors are always willing to talk to you, even if it isn't about class assignments. I think that is what makes St. Andrews special.
"St. Andrews is the beginning, the foundation for life-long learning," Hipp continued. "I will always enjoying learning; it's a passion of mine that will never end. What St. Andrews has taught me is that I will never stop learning or growing, if I allow myself to be open to the challenge."
St. Andrews was also recently recognized by the U.S. News and World Report as one of the Best Regional Colleges in the South and by G.I. Jobs as a Military Friendly School.
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