Our institutions focus on undergraduate teaching and the liberal arts. Sit in some of our classes and you'll feel the difference. You won't see large lecture halls with material taught by teaching assistants. Instead, faculty lead the classes. And most have fewer than 20 students.
Private college professors focus on teaching. Many of them do groundbreaking research and are nationally renowned in their fields of expertise; 82 percent hold doctorates or other terminal degrees. But the reason they work at private colleges is because they love to teach and have a passion for challenging students to discover how to be their best.
Faculty make themselves available outside of class and take an active personal interest in their students, often serving as mentors and role models. The amount of undergraduate research that is done at our colleges is one sign of this faculty commitment.
To quantify how our faculty are available for students, consider that 61 percent of classes have fewer than 20 students. And only 1 percent of classes have 50 or more. The impact is clear; our graduates often share stories of the professors who challenged them — and personally helped them meet the challenge.
Students take many small discussion courses in which they are expected to articulate and defend their interpretation of extensive required readings. Evaluation is based primarily on essay exams, written reports and projects rather than multiple-choice exams that test students' memorization.
College graduates who had these kinds of academic experiences more often reported that they were better prepared for life after college, equipped with effective communication skills, problem solving abilities and other career skills.
We see our students and recent graduates being recognized for their academic success. In the most recent year, our colleges had 49 students who were named Fulbright Scholars, Watson Fellows, Goldwater Scholars and Truman Scholars.
Best four-year graduation rates in Minnesota, #2 in the nation
Given the individualized attention our students receive, they are more likely to complete their coursework and graduate on time compared to students at Minnesota's public systems. Yes, there are many reasons students may not graduate within four years, but students and parents alike want to consider where the odds of graduating on time will be higher; the cost of additional tuition and deferred income is just one factor.
Compared to the two public systems in the state, Minnesota private colleges have the highest four-year graduation rate for first-time, full-time students. And when looking at state level figures for both public and private institutions, Minnesota private colleges rank second in the nation.