The American Council of College Trustees and Alumni has released its third annual report on the curricular strength of American colleges and universities, and once again, Thomas Aquinas College is at the very top of the list.
On its What Will They Learn? website, ACTA has posted evaluations of the major public and private colleges and universities in all 50 states —1,070 four-year institutions in all, with more than 7 million undergraduate students among them. Thomas Aquinas College is among the top 2 percent, or just 21 institutions in the country, to receive an “A” grade, and one of only three schools to receive a perfect score.
ACTA does not “rank colleges based on alumni donations or party school distinctions,” says the organization's press secretary, Daniel Burnett. “It rates them based on one crucial question: What will students learn?” While numerous guides rank colleges and universities based on popularity or reputation, ACTA’s annual rating evaluates schools solely on the basis of their curricula. Rather than comparing colleges against one another, it measures them by objective criteria to determine what students are learning.
The ACTA evaluation focuses on the substance of schools’ mandatory courses and texts, or core curriculum. The association has identified seven essential areas of study for undergraduates — composition, literature, American history, foreign language, mathematics, science, and economics. The more of these areas of study required by a college or university, and the more substantive the curricula in these areas, the higher the school’s overall ACTA rating. Less than 2 percent of colleges nationwide received an “A,” and only 0.3 percent, including Thomas Aquinas College, achieved a perfect score.
“We aim not at vocational training but at the education of the whole person, an education that will serve as an intellectual and moral foundation throughout our students’ lives,” says Dean of the College Brian T. Kelly. “As a result, our ‘core’ is our curriculum — an integrated, comprehensive, and Catholic education based entirely on the great books.”
The College’s unique academic program not only covers the seven key disciplines ACTA has identified, but orders them toward a rigorous study of philosophy and theology, culminating in the works of the Catholic Church’s Universal Doctor, St. Thomas Aquinas. “Ironically,” Dr. Kelly adds, “even though our classical education is not vocational in nature, it prepares our alumni to enter the best graduate schools in the country and to excel at a wide variety of professions, from law and medicine to journalism, public policy, architecture, and military service.”
Posted: October 9, 2012
“At Thomas Aquinas College, I learned that the world makes sense. It was so wonderful to discover that there is a real order in things and that I could understand it.”
– Frater Simeon Goodwin, O. Praem. (’10)
St. Michael's Abbey, Orange County, Calif.
“Thomas Aquinas College is a paragon of what Catholic higher education ought to be.”
– William Cardinal Baum
Congregation for Catholic Education