SMU Ranks 56th on Best Colleges List

August 17, 2010 by · 1 Comment 

SMU ranks 56th on the 2011 U.S. News and World Report's list of Best Colleges. (SMU DAILY MUSTANG)

By Aida Ahmed

Southern Methodist University achieved its highest national ranking with the results of the 2011 edition of Best Colleges by U.S. News and World Report. At 56, SMU jumped up 12 spaces from the 2010 report and up from 73rd in 2004.

SMU only falls short of two Texas universities: Rice University, ranked 17th, and the University of Texas-Austin, ranked 45th.

U.S. News and World Report ranked 191 institutions for this year’s Best Colleges list and over 1,4oo national universities and liberal art colleges for various rankings.

For more information on how U.S. News and World ranks colleges, visit their site.

SMU Costs More Than Ivy League’s Yale

March 18, 2010 by · Comments Off 

by Sydni Brass

Yale University is ranked the number two university in the nation by U.S. News and World Report. SMU is ranked 68. It’s much tougher to get into Yale than SMU, and Yalies are more likely to have graduated at the top of their high school class.

Yet, it costs more to attend SMU than Yale:  $37,230 at SMU versus $36,500 at Yale.

Those figures, which exclude room and board and other fees, come from the College Board, which gathers data from higher education institutions around the country. SMU’s tuition is also as high, or nearly as high, as at most other Ivy League schools ranked in the nation’s top 10, including Harvard and Princeton.

So why, in a city where the cost of living is fairly low, are we paying more for an education that may arguably be not quite as good?

Jose Bowen, dean of SMU’s Meadows School of the Arts, said a lot of what students wind up paying in tuition has to do with the size of the university’s endowment. Harvard, for instance, was able to radically change its tuition structure because of its large endowment after criticism that not enough poor students could afford to attend.

“The biggest difference is the size of endowment and the way schools can structure costs and scholarships,” Dean Bowen said.

Nine percent of students in the United States attend universities, including SMU, with tuition and fees of more than $33,000, according to the College Board. SMU senior Taryn Baker is concerned about SMU’s high cost.

“Students who graduate from SMU get less job opportunities than Harvard grads and most make less money than Harvard grads do,” she said. “I don’t think it’s fair we’re paying Ivy League prices when our future income probably won’t be as high as theirs.”

Other students, though, say that they are getting their money’s worth at SMU.

“We’re paying for a private education and a great atmosphere here so it doesn’t bother me that it is in the Ivy League price range,” said junior Samuel Marasco.

Patricia LaSalle, SMU’s Associate Vice President for Public Affairs, provided information gathered by Cambridge Associates, which provides research to universities, showing SMU is more expensive than Yale and Princeton. Harvard students, on the other hand, pay a little more than SMU students.

In recent years, SMU has been dubbed “the Harvard of the South” due to a more selective admissions process attributed to a larger applicant pool. In 2004, SMU admitted 64.3 percent of its applicants, while in 2008 it admitted only 49.7 percent of applicants.

Still, that’s not nearly as selective as Ivy League schools where they admit only a fraction of students. For instance, SMU admitted 53 percent of all the applicants who applied for the 2009-10 school years. Yale admitted only 8 percent.  At Yale, 96 percent of its students graduated in the top 10 percent of their high school class. At SMU, only 43 percent of students graduated in the top 10 percent.

While there has been an increase in selectivity over the years at SMU, it is matched by an equally steady growth in tuition. Between the academic years of 2003-04 and 2008-09, there has been an increase of more than $8,000 per school year.

“SMU is in Dallas and our classes are small.  We have wonderful programs that Harvard does not have like Advertising, Journalism and fantastic arts programs,” said Bowen of SMU’s intrinsic value.

SMU is currently the most expensive private school in Texas, with tuition that is higher than Baylor University and Rice University.

In a letter to SMU students in December, 2008, President R. Gerald Turner wrote that “SMU’s tuition and fees compare favorably to other national universities.”

President Turner did not respond to interview requests for this story.

In the fall of 2009, SMU increased its tuition by nearly 6 percent. But due to the economic downturn, administrators have decided to increase tuition by a smaller percentage than in previous years starting in the fall of 2010.

Regardless, students on a tight budget or who are working their way through college still struggle to make it through four years without the burden of heavy debt from college loans.

Some students may not believe that the debt is worth it for an education that may not be as respected as an Ivy League degree.

“I had no idea we pay an Ivy League price to go to here. I don’t think our education is comparable to the education students get at Harvard and we definitely don’t have the Harvard reputation,” said SMU junior Anna McIngvale.