Name: Jennifer Burt
Southern Utah University is one of the “best value” institutions in the U.S, according to The Princeton Review’s highly regarded ranking system that evaluates colleges and universities across the nation for excellence in academic programming.
The Princeton Review’s newly published book, “The Best Value Colleges: 2012 Edition,” specifically measures that academic excellence against the cost of tuition to determine which schools have proven themselves the best investment for prospective college students hoping to aim high without breaking the bank.
Above all, however, the strength of an institution's academics prove the ultimate barometer, according to Best Value Colleges lead author Robert Franek who, in a recent interview with USA TODAY explained, "We're very quick to say it can't just be a low sticker price. The commitment has to be much deeper than that.”
In its profile of SUU, the editors at The Princeton Review praise the school for its “enthusiastic students, passionate professors and helpful administrators” who, together, create an environment in which it is easy to succeed.
SUU students surveyed by the Princeton Review described their experience as “a whole lot of fun” and “a whole lot of work,” with the core of that SUU experience being professors and advisors who are willing to devote extra time and attention to help students succeed in the classroom while also identifying enriching extracurricular pursuits.
Said one student surveyed in The Princeton Review’s evaluation, “My professors know me and know why I am here.”
Said The Princeton Review in its summary, “We’re told that professors demonstrate passion for the subjects they teach, but are more concerned about the student…and are thus willing to do everything possible to ensure student success.”
SUU Student surveys abound with illustrations of this attention to the individual, and one student supplied a telling example, describing a time when an English professor worked in the library with this student after hours to help with an important paper that was due the next day.
This kind of attention is hard to come by at any school and yet SUU does so successfully while also maintaining manageable tuition, at just over $5000 per year for tuition and fees. According to the College Board, the average in-state tuition and fees at four-year public colleges across the nation rose 8.3 percent this school year and now exceeds $17,000 a year with room and board.
Said Robert Franek, The Princeton Review's Senior VP/Publisher and lead author of The Best Value Colleges: 2012 Edition, “We commend SUU and all of the extraordinary colleges on our 2012 'Best Value Colleges' list for all they are doing to keep costs down and / or offer generous aid to applicants with financial need — all while maintaining excellent academic programs.”
For University officials, that recognition for SUU’s academic excellence is the chief reason to celebrate.
Said Vice President Dean O’Driscoll, “This is more than offering a bargain tuition rate. This is about high quality institutions offering a great value education.”
It’s true, as one of the top value public universities in the nation, SUU ranks among Cal Berkeley, UCLA, Florida State, Indiana, UMass, Michigan, North Carolina, Truman State, William and Mary, just to name a few.
“The Best Value Colleges: 2012 Edition,” subtitled “The 150 Best Buy Colleges and What It Takes to Get In,” features profiles of 75 public and 75 private colleges with detailed information about their campus culture, facilities and financial aid offerings.
The “Best Value Colleges” list and information about the schools are also posted on a dedicated area of USA TODAY.com, which has been the Princeton Review's online publishing partner for this project since 2009. USA TODAY’s site, bestvaluecolleges.usatoday.com, features an exclusive database that allows users to view in-depth details about the schools by clicking on an interactive map. Users can explore criteria including cost of attendance and financial aid data, enrollment size, location and The Princeton Review’s analysis of why it chose each school as a “Best Value.”
The Princeton Review selected its "Best Value Colleges" schools based on institutional data and student opinion surveys collected from 650 colleges and universities the Company regards as the nation's academically best undergraduate institutions. The selection process analyzed more than 30 data points broadly covering academics, cost and financial aid. Cost and financial aid data came from the Company's fall 2011 surveys of school administrators. Data on academics came from its fall 2010 through fall 2011 surveys of school administrators. Data from students attending the schools over these years included their assessments of their professors and their satisfaction with their financial aid awards.
Southern Utah University has twice before earned The Princeton Review's best value moniker: in 2007 and again in 2008. The third time's a charm, and SUU officials are keen to maintain this title — successfully balancing cost and quality for the very best college experience — moving forward.
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