Beyond the Guidebook
The number of college choices can be dizzying. There are more than 2,200 four-year colleges in the United States alone. College guidebooks can help you sort them out but they rarely focus on real student experiences and outcomes.
- What kinds of experiences do students really have?
- What happens to them after they graduate?
- What value do they attribute to their undergraduate education?
At the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John's University, we think it's important that students and families ask those questions — and that colleges have the answers.
- CSB and SJU enroll exceptionally talented students. The typical new student placed among the top 15 percent of all ACT test-takers nationally. Nearly one-quarter of new CSB and SJU students earned ACT scores in the top 5 percent nationally. Almost 30 percent earned high school grade point averages of 3.9 or higher, and 15 percent reported 4.0 grade averages. Our students typically describe themselves as fun, friendly, cooperative, competitive, and driven. More than three-quarters of all new CSB and SJU students expect to eventually earn a graduate or professional degree.
- New CSB and SJU students applied to more than 700 colleges across the country; the typical new student applied to at least four colleges. Even with all of those options, the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John's University most often was their first choice. Nearly 80 percent of all new students in fall 2011 said that CSB or SJU was their first choice college, compared to 62 percent of all new entering students at four-year private colleges nationally and 60 percent of all new students attending Catholic colleges.
- New students cite the friendly people they met on campus, our emphasis on personal values, the social atmosphere on campus, opportunities for spiritual growth, and our nationally-recognized international study opportunities as key factors in their decision to enroll here. The parents of those first-year students cited our emphasis on personal values, the friendly people on campus, and the jobs our graduates get as key advantages at CSB and SJU. They also frequently pointed to opportunities for spiritual growth and the religious identity of the colleges as key advantages.
- CSB and SJU seniors each year indicate that their experiences here contribute significantly to the development of important life skills associated with a high quality liberal arts education. The overwhelming majority of seniors — more than 7 in 10 in each of the last four years — cite significant contributions to their writing, speaking, critical thinking, and independent learning skills as students here. More than three-quarters also pointed to significant gains in their intellectual and social self-confidence.
- CSB and SJU students are open to academic possibilities. The vast majority of new students identify a likely academic major at the time they apply, but more than half eventually major in something different. They most often believe they made the right choice for themselves. More than 8 in 10 seniors say they would choose the same major if they could start over. More than 95 percent of CSB and SJU seniors rate the overall quality of their academic experience here as good or excellent.
- The College of Saint Benedict and Saint John's University together are recognized nationally as leaders in international study. In 2011, we were again ranked first in the nation among baccalaureate colleges in the number of students who studied abroad in semester-long programs. Fully 6 in 10 CSB students and nearly half of SJU students study abroad, more than twice as high as rates at four-year colleges nationally.
- We don't just send students to the world, the world is represented here — creating a rich cultural experience on campus. Together, CSB and SJU enrolled more undergraduate international students than any other private college in Minnesota in fall 2011. International students comprise more than 6 percent of all CSB and SJU students. We ranked 13th in the country in 2010-11 among baccalaureate colleges in international student enrollment.
- Engaged learning inside and outside of the classroom and close student-faculty relationships are hallmarks of the CSB/SJU learning experience. Six in ten seniors indicate that they frequently talk with faculty outside of class. More than 80 percent identify a faculty member as a mentor or role model, and more than 90 percent describe their relationships with faculty as good or excellent. Consistent with our commitment to a seamless residential learning experience, nearly all students (93 percent) indicate that their experiences outside of the classroom enhance the quality of their academic experiences.
- We provide a powerful community experience - our students expect to develop deep relationships with their classmates, roommates, and teammates. Nearly 9 in 10 seniors identify "community" as a word that characterizes CSB and SJU — more than any other descriptor. More than 95 percent describe their relationships with other students as good or excellent, and 9 in 10 rate the quality of their social experience as very good or excellent.
- Students who start here most often finish here. High retention rates are a key indicator of academic quality and satisfaction. CSB and SJU for many years have been leaders in retention nationally. Each year, approximately 90 percent of all new students here return the following fall, compared to just 72 percent of all new students attending four-year colleges nationally.
- CSB and SJU students complete their degrees on-time — most earning a four-year degree in four years or less. Like high retention rates, high four-year completion rates signal a high quality learning experience and commitment to academic support and progress. More than 7 in 10 new CSB and SJU students will earn their bachelor's degree here four years later, a completion rate significantly higher than even the five year rate at all four-year colleges nationally (52 percent). More than 90 percent of those who complete at CSB and SJU do so in four years or less.
- Our young alumnae and alumni have exceptional experiences after graduating. More than 99 percent of our 2010 graduates reported that they were situated within a year of earning their degree here. Two-thirds were working full-time — less than one percent reported that they were unemployed and seeking work. One in five were pursuing full-time graduate education, and nearly 10 percent were in full-time volunteer positions, working for more than two dozen organizations in a dozen different countries.
- Our alumnae and alumni overwhelmingly affirm the quality of their experiences at Saint Benedict and Saint John's long after they have graduated. Among alumnae and alumni who have graduated in the last 25 years:
- Nearly 9 in 10 indicate that their academic major prepared them well for their career or for graduate school.
- Nearly 9 in 10 say that faculty and staff here recognized and appreciated their talents and helped to develop them.
- More than 90% say that as students they developed an ability to distinguish unique perspectives others might not consider.
- More than three-quarters say their CSB and SJU experiences contributed significantly to their understanding of themselves and their values and to the development of their moral and ethical principles.
- More than 90 percent say they would choose Saint Benedict or Saint John's again if they could start college over