New Paltz Makes Kiplinger’s List

Photo By Robin Weinstein

SUNY New Paltz has been chosen as one of the top public four-year institutions of higher education in the country, according to Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine.

New Paltz was ranked No. 44 out of 100 in Kiplinger’s list of “Best Values in Public Colleges 2013” — climbing 11 spots from last year.

While the 44th position is the ranking for in-state schools, New Paltz also ranked 29th for out-of-state.

According to its website Kiplinger’s starts with data on the nearly 600 public four-year schools provided by Peterson’s, a college information website and guide.  From there, Kiplinger’s adds in their reporting.

The metrics breakdown works out to be 45 percent cost factors and 55 percent quality factors. Those two categories are further subdivided into the school’s cost and financial aid, average student debt at graduation, competitiveness, graduation rates — “the proof of the pudding” — and academic support which is comprised of the freshmen retention rate and ratio of faculty to students, their website said.

SUNY New Paltz President Donald Christian said he is very pleased with the recent listing.

“ln conversations about higher education, there are two main thrusts there right now,” Christian said. “One is quality of degrees…are students learning what they need to know to be successful in the world that you’ll all inherit and live in and contribute to? The other is college cost – to be included in a ranking like this, that’s a measure of a combination of quality and affordability.”

While the rank certainly could look good to anyone perusing the list scouring for potential schools, L. David Eaton, vice president for enrollment management, said there are other, quite possibly more important, considerations to be taken.  He said details such as location — whether the school is in a city, mountain, farm, or suburban area — local flavor, tolerance, diversity, programs offered — all of these should be considered paramount, not just where the school lands on a list.

Eaton said he places an emphasis on the details missing from the pure numbers that the lists are composed of.

“If you use a list, you miss a lot of the more nuanced things like, ‘Is this a good fit?,’ ‘Would somebody who’s very comfortable in a tolerant community be comfortable in a very intolerant kind of social setting where people all have to conform to the same thing?,’” Eaton said.  “It’s much more complicated than saying I think I’ll go to number 12, because they can’t get into 11.”

Christian said the school’s shift in placement has to do with Kiplinger’s themselves, not necessarily the school.

“We generally don’t change that dramatically in a one year time, so some of those shifts are methodological,” Christian said. “Some result in the way that the standardized data gets reported and tabulated by Kiplinger’s, so I’m a little reluctant to put too much stock in a particular ranking.”

When choosing a school, Christian said it is important to consider and highlight the idea of value.

“We have to think about value,” he said.  “If something’s inexpensive but poor quality, it has no value, so what we’re after are things that have high quality at reasonable cost. That’s the value measure that we’re so proud of.”