After my first “Colleges to Attend” column, scores of readers wrote asking whether I would soon recommend a public university with significantly lower tuition than Pepperdine. I am pleased to do so today with the recommendation of a public school from my former home state of Texas.
Texas A&M University is nationally recognized as a top 5 public university by the new Washington Monthly ranking. This ranking is important because it looks more at the quality of graduates and what they are contributing to society as opposed to the more popular U.S. News poll, which is heavily weighted toward factors like SAT, National Merit Scholars, and reputation. The emphasis on “reputation” is problematic because it is the source of the significant leftist bias in the ratings. Nonetheless, A&M is number three in terms of its “best value” in public universities, behind UVA and UNC, which are decidedly more liberal.
In terms of specific colleges, A&M’s Mays Business School, Dwight Look College of Engineering, and their outstanding College of Veterinary Medicine are all in the top of the nation in their respective disciplines. In academics and research, A&M currently has over half a billion dollars in sponsored research contracted to the large public campus.
But what really sets A&M apart from other schools is the quality of student life and dedication to student traditions. The Aggies are widely recognized for having a student body with a voracious appetite for athletics. ESPN’s College game day crew calls it the best college atmosphere in the country. Unsurprisingly, A&M routinely sets national attendance records – even in sports like women’s soccer and tennis.
The “12th Man spirit” of A&M is also reflected in student compassion for others. In fact, this dedication to service is at least part of what prompted former President Bush to put his library on the Aggie campus instead of his alma mater, Yale. In the fall of 2005, the Aggies were the only major university in America to host Katrina evacuees on campus.
When Reed Arena, their basketball venue, was transformed into a shelter, there were over 300 families that benefited from the student-led volunteer effort. In March, they will once again launch a major service event where over 5,000 students will dedicate a day to service in the region. This is, to my knowledge, the largest such activity in the entire country.