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

Posted: October 1, 2014

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.

ACTAACTA “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.”