Posted by Martino Britt
Recently, I was having a conversation with a colleague who happens to be an adult student, and the topic of school came up. He goes to a local university (not SLU) and is not happy with what he is getting in terms of a quality education. That is because when looking for schools my colleague chose his school based almost solely on the fact that it provided him with the fastest route to a degree. I explained to him that while I did want to finish school as quickly as possible, that was not the determining factor in my choosing Saint Louis University. There were many reasons I chose SLU, and I let him know that.
Once I finally made my mind up that I was returning to school, I did my homework. The first thing I did was fill out my FAFSA application. While searching local school codes I came across something that amazed me. According to the FAFSA website, SLU has a 74% graduation rate and an 83% retention rate. Though I wasn’t searching for these numbers, they turned out to be very important to me. I visited three schools. Of the other two schools I visited, one boasted a paltry 43% graduation rate and a 66% retention rate. The other boasted a 55% graduation rate and a 62% retention rate.
Though I had already decided to attend SLU, seeing these numbers reaffirmed my decision. I looked at cost and, while SLU was not the least expensive, I do believe you get what you pay for. That is evident because my friend opted for the less expensive school, and he is getting exactly what he paid for.
I am not saying that because a school is less expensive than SLU, it is not as good of a school as SLU. I am saying that numbers don’t lie. If a school has a 43% graduation rate, that means something to me. Based on data from the FAFSA website, graduation and retention rates are described as follows:
“Graduation rate is the percentage of a school’s first-time, first-year undergraduate students who complete their program within 150% of the published time for the program.”
“Retention rate is the percentage of a school’s first-time, first-year undergraduate students who continue at that school the next year.”
Along with the impressions each school left with me after my visit, these data helped me to choose the right school for me. I know that each student will not thrive in the same environment, but, once again, numbers do not lie.
I also told my colleague that the instructors at SLU are excellent and are even accessible to you once your class with them is over. That is another thing he is not getting at his school. I have had questions on several occasions and have needed to reach out to past instructors, and they always respond within a day or two. This is extremely important; it lets me know that my education is always important to the instructors at SLU.
He finally asked me how I felt about the racial incidents that made the news last spring at SLU. I told him that I understood his point. However, SLU is a pillar of the St. Louis community. Not only do I know many people and families who have benefited from SLU’s generosity, I myself have benefited directly from SLU’s generosity.
I also explained to him that we cannot blame the institution for a few misguided comments or the actions of a few. If that were the case, then there would be no such thing as progress. I also told him that while I do not blame SLU for the students’ behaviors, I do expect SLU to keep these types of events in check. It affects me deeply when anyone experiences discrimination. It doesn’t matter what form discrimination takes because it is all wrong.
I must admit that I was very upset by the incidents and the thought of changing schools did cross my mind. Then I realized that if I leave SLU, I would be giving any bigoted person exactly what s/he would want. It was more than that. I am truly happy at SLU. I have enjoyed all of my classes, I have met wonderful students and instructors, and I write for this blog. These are just a few of the positive experiences for me since coming to SLU.
I love SLU, and I am very happy to be a member of the SLU community. I know I chose the right school for me based on my experience and the experiences of people I know who attend other schools. There are a few things I hope get better before school picks back up for the fall (likes sometimes a classroom is too cold and never seems to get fixed).
Overall, though, I am pleased with my SLU experience, and I would not change it for anything. SLU has given me what I need when I need it. I have even suggested to my colleagues that they transfer to SLU so that they can get the best education for their dollar. I knew this before I saw the email pertaining to SLU being the only Missouri school this year in The Fiske Guide to Colleges.
Photo Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/tracy_olson/61056391/sizes/m/in/photostream/