Read college guides and visit college gossip sites and you will get different thoughts as to what makes a “great state university.”
Some people might tell you that it’s the school with the highest rankings or the one that is the most selective. While those schools receive the most attention in the media, the numbers do not necessarily mean that they do the best job at educating the students they have.
What should a great state university do for its students?
A great state university achieves success at retaining and graduating the students it attracts—and it provides them with the resources that they need to succeed. It also makes the effort to be as affordable as possible during their journey to a degree and helps them to find employment or pursue further education while also providing them with a network that will support them for life.
Yes, the most selective state universities in the US do all of this for their in-state students. A college advisor would be very hard pressed to tell a Californian not to go to Berkeley or UCLA or advise a Virginian to pass on the University of Virginia. A bright Texan would be wise to consider the University of Texas-Austin or Texas A&M among their options.
But that same advisor might also tell a New Jersey resident to take a look at several private universities that might actually be less expensive, or suggest that she take a longer look at Rutgers, the home state school.
What actions would be considered “above and beyond” for a great state university?
State university systems are obligated to make residents a priority for admissions as well as lower tuition and fees. However, some schools also offer reasonable (below $30,000) charges for non-residents or offer fairly achievable merit scholarships, as Miami of Ohio does.
What are some of the great state universities that also go above and beyond?
All of the above schools’ excluding Purdue (47 percent) and Stony Brook (47 percent) graduate at least half of a freshman class within four years. While Binghamton University (42 percent), The University of Florida (48%), the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities (45 percent) and Ohio State (49 percent) have become more selective, the rest of these schools accepted at least half of the students who applied to join their freshman class last year. James Madison, Miami, Texas A&M and Virginia Tech have traditionally accepted around two-thirds.
With the exception of James Madison, a regional school that attracts significant numbers from Maryland, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, all of these schools are flagship universities in their states. With the exceptions of SUNY-Albany (83 percent) and SUNY-Buffalo (86 percent), these schools retained 90 percent or more of the freshman class that entered in 2015.
As you can see, this list is a short one when considering costs along with performance. But it is appropriate to call each of these schools a great state university.
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