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ACTA Gives College “A” Rating and Perfect Score for Academics

October 2, 2014
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ACTA Gives College “A” Rating
and Perfect Score for Academics


SANTA PAULA, CA—October 2—The American Council of College Trustees and Alumni has released its sixth 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 — 1,098 four-year institutions, with more than 7.5 million undergraduate students among them. For the sixth time in as many years, ACTA has given Thomas Aquinas College a grade of “A” and a perfect rating.

By earning an “A,” Thomas Aquinas College rates among the top 2 percent of American colleges and universities, 23 schools in all, named to ACTA’s coveted “A List.” Among these, the College has the highest four-year graduation rate — 73 percent, or nearly double the national average (39 percent) — save for the U.S. military academies. Moreover, the College is one of only four schools, or the top 0.4 percent nationwide, to earn a perfect score for the strength of its curriculum.

ACTA “does not rank schools, it rates them on objective academic criteria,” says the organization’s website. “It grades each school based on the strength of its core curriculum.” 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 curricula. The association has identified seven essential areas of study for undergraduates — composition, literature, U.S. government or history, foreign language (at an intermediate level), mathematics, natural 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.

“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.”


About Thomas Aquinas College

Thomas Aquinas College has developed a solid reputation for academic excellence in the United States and abroad. At Thomas Aquinas College, there are no majors, no minors, or electives because all students acquire a broad and fully integrated liberal education. The College offers one 4-year, classical curriculum that spans the major arts and sciences. Instead of reading textbooks, students read the original works of the greatest thinkers in Western civilization — the Great Books — in all the major disciplines: mathematics, natural science, literature, philosophy, and theology. Rather than listening to lectures, they engage in rigorous Socratic discussions about these works in classes of 15-18 students. The academic life of the college is conducted under the light of the Catholic faith and flourishes within a close-knit community, supported by a vibrant spiritual life. Genuinely committed to upholding civic virtue and leading lives dedicated to the good of others, Thomas Aquinas College graduates enter a wide array of fields where they are a powerful force for good in the Church and in the culture. Well-versed in rational discourse, they become leaders in education, law, medicine, journalism, public policy, military service, and business. In addition, a steady 10% of alumni go on to the priesthood or religious life.