Stanislaus State right on the Money, best bang for the public university buck

Money magazine’s College Planner ranks California State University, Stanislaus, the top public school in the nation for helping students succeed.

On Money’s list of “The 40 Colleges That Add the Most Value,” the Turlock campus is the highest-ranked public school. Robert Morris University, a private career college in Chicago, heads the list and Mount St. Mary’s University in Los Angeles, a private college for women, came in second.

“It’s not surprising that elite schools report high graduation rates, or that their alumni move on to high-paying jobs,” Money notes in the list introduction. “What’s impressive is when a college can help students do far better than you’d expect based on their academic and economic backgrounds and the mix of majors at their schools.”

The university announced the achievement Wednesday.

“It means we’re being noticed as one of the best colleges at serving its core constituency,” university President Joseph Sheley said. “Members of the region are experiencing the thrill and pride that comes with a son or daughter becoming the first in the family to earn a college degree and opening doors to success.”

Stanislaus State has the lowest net degree cost of any on the value-added list, $106,349. On Money’s broad overall ranking, it came in 82nd out of 736 four-year institutions on the annual Best Colleges list, which ties it with California Maritime Academy for the top spot among the 23 CSU campuses. Stanford University tops that list this year.

“It’s super affordable for low-income families – and I’m one of them,” said junior Tatiana Olivera, sitting at the Sigma Tau Delta booth at transfer student orientation on the Quad Wednesday. “It’s very close to home. It’s a commuter school, so you don’t have to afford housing,” she said.

Olivera is in the faculty mentorship program, which she said gives her great access to professors for homework help and all around guidance. “It feels like a family to me,” she said.

Associated Students Inc. President Nicole Larson said the low student-to-teacher ratio made instructors very easy to talk to. “One of the best things is it has that homey feel,” she said, with classes of usually 20 or so students.

“The departments are so close-knit and you really see that,” she said, adding it amazed her when, as a new student, professors would make a point to stop and talk to her around campus. “I’m thinking, ‘You know me? I’ve just been a student in your class for a semester,’” Larson said.

“It helps to have a professor who’s very passionate,” said music major Jacob Cortez. Sitting next to him at the music studies table, Jasmine Woodall added that she liked the candid talk by her instructors about being in college with a purpose. “There’s a good amount of decent teachers here,” she said.

The Money magazine recognition comes on the heels of a nod from U.S. News & World Report, which placed the university among the top 10 four-year schools in the country in serving Hispanic students in a July 6 report.

The U.S. News listing used 2013 data, placing Stanislaus No. 9 in the nation with a student population that measures 45 percent Hispanic. The statistic closely mirrors the makeup of Stanislaus County, which 2013 census figures place at 43.5 percent Hispanic.