National recognition for classroom performance keeps on coming for Fresno State.
The U.S. News and World Report’s 2018 Best College rankings are out, and Fresno State is pegged at No. 3 among public universities and No. 5 overall for its graduation rate performance.
The latest good news builds upon a long string of positive evaluations by publications keeping a close eye on education.
And this kind of good news matters much more to students and rational alumni than any headlines generated by controversial English professor/author Randa Jarrar or “Trump must hang” history professor Lars Maischak.
In politics, there will always be controversy. Politics can’t exist without it. And it’s inevitable that professors and students at any big university will make headlines that upset alumni.
Fresno State’s Mission to Uplift Valley
But lifting up an entire region — which has been Fresno State President Joseph Castro’s mission since day one — is a complicated, long-haul effort involving many people.
Thus Fresno State’s focus must be on teaming with Valley school districts to convince young students that education can substantially make life better for them and their families.
These students must be inspired to aim high and graduate. Not just from high school but from college or with training certificates that will enable them to obtain good-paying jobs with benefits.
You can see evidence that this effort is taking hold all over the Valley. Leaders at all levels — high schools, community colleges, and universities — are rowing in the same direction and aligning curriculum so that young students have the greatest opportunity to succeed based on their individual talents.
Notice from Money Magazine & Washington Monthly, Too
All of these latest rankings validate that Fresno State is on the right track.
Fresno State ranked No. 41 in Money Magazine’s 50 Best Public Colleges for 2018-19 and 66th overall among 727 schools. And Fresno State checked in at No. 24 nationally last month in Washington Monthly’s rankings — the third consecutive year that the university has cracked that publication’s Top 25.
The various ratings — while all impressive — reflect the differing methodologies and criteria used by evaluators.
U.S. News and World Report, for example, predicted what it expected Fresno State’s graduation rate to be and compared that to the real-world results.
Saying it succinctly: The university’s professors and the support put in place by administrators — along with the generosity of donors — are enabling the university to beat expectations.
In addition, Fresno State gets a lift from the fact that a California State University system education remains a bargain compared to public universities elsewhere.
Combine that fact with the financial assistance available to Fresno State students and they are able to graduate with less debt than many of their peers.
For example, U.S. News and World Report ranked Fresno State No. 2 for “Least Percent of Grads with Debt” among public national universities and No. 7 among all national universities.
Overall, Fresno State moved up to No. 205 overall, 18 spots better than last year, in the U.S. News rankings.
Preparing a New Generation of Leaders
“Fresno State’s continued recognition in these national rankings speaks to the transformative educational opportunity we offer to our 25,000 students,” Castro said in a statement released Monday. “About 80 percent of our graduates stay and work in the Valley. By providing our students with a quality and affordable education, Fresno State is preparing a new generation of bold leaders who will guide the region to new heights of success.”
Go ahead and debate the limits of free speech. That’s always healthy and interesting.
Boo or cheer Jarrar and Maischak, too. It’s the American way.
Just know that the first-rate teaching and learning taking place at Fresno State are what will matter a generation from now — when the Jarrar and Maischak dust-ups are footnotes, if that, in Valley history.