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UA ‘pays you back,’ Princeton Review says

A+sky+view+of+the+recently+dedicated+USS+Arizona+Mall+Memorial+on+Tuesday%2C+Dec.+6+2016.+The+university+was+recently+included+on+Princeton+Reviews+Best+Colleges+that+Pay+You+Back+list.
Courtesy Dean Kelly

A sky view of the recently dedicated USS Arizona Mall Memorial on Tuesday, Dec. 6 2016. The university was recently included on Princeton Review’s “Best Colleges that Pay You Back” list.

Princeton Review has included UA on its Best Colleges that Pay You Back list, which shows that students at the university are getting the best bang for their buck.

The review is based on three main criteria: stellar academics, affordable cost and strong career prospects for graduates. Out of the 650 schools ranked, only 200 were chosen, including UA. The university is the only member of the Association for American Universities in the state, and UA is recognized as a top-tier public research university.

The Princeton Review reflected this, noting some of the UA’s academic achievements such as a 22:1 student to faculty ratio with 1,668 of those factually holding a terminal degree. UA students are academically minded from the get-go, with a high school GPA average of 3.48, according to the Review.

“I think I have definitely had a really positive experience at the UA,” said Caitlin O’Donnell, a retail and consumer sciences senior who is getting ready to graduate in May. “I have felt like I got a really good overall education.”

Cost also plays a huge role in where students decide to go to college. According to the UA’s website, in-state tuition is $11,800 per year and $35,000 for out of state. While that may seem a lot to undergraduate students footing the bill, the UA is commended for a couple of reasons. UA has fixed tuition, which means that freshman year will cost the same as senior year, no matter the intermittent increases.

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“You see a lot of schools where they cost around $60,000 and you don’t know how good the education actually is,” O’Donnell said. “I think for a state university we are pretty reasonable.”

Combating the price of tuition is also made easier by the UA’s above-average graduate starting salary. According to the Princeton Review, UA graduates earn a starting salary of $50,100 per year, higher than many other schools featured on the list.

O’Donnell has already started the process of applying and looking for jobs. She is looking for a job in human resources before possibly attending law school in two years.

“I have definitely gotten a lot of good experience with internships and classes to prepare me,” O’Donnell said. “I don’t think you can ever be 100 percent prepared for the future but I definitely won’t be struggling and completely lost.”

Marina Palese was at the financial aid office Monday morning trying to gain Arizona residency to qualify for in-state tuition. She chose the UA despite the out of state cost because of the academic excellence of the astronomy program.

“I’m happy and I like it here,” Palese said, “I just wish it cost less.”

Many scholarships from UA are available, like the Arizona Excellence Tuition Award that Palese receives yearly.

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Another area in which the UA excels is with transfer students. Many students transfer to the UA each semester from community colleges, the military and other major universities. The Princeton Review took into account things such as relative ease of transition, resources available for transfer students and students’ reaction to the UA in comparison to their previous colleges or institutions. UA’s academic reputation accounts for attracting many transfer students.

“I wanted to continue my schooling,” said Angelica Padilla, a microbiology junior and transfer student. “I chose the UA because it fit best with my major that I wanted to go into.”

Padilla completed her associate degree in science at Central Arizona College before transferring to the UA last fall.

“It is definitely a bit more challenging, you do have to study a bit more,” Padilla said. “The professors are nice and helpful and there are lots of resources here.”

Even as a bang for your buck university, the UA is more expensive than Padilla’s previous school.

“Of course it is pricier than community college, but it is worth the money I think because there are a lot of resources here, so you’re paying for those resources, so naturally it would be more expensive but everything is provided for you here, it is pretty convenient,” Padilla said.

In 2016, the UA Transfer Student Center was a winner of the Student Affairs & Enrollment Management/Academic Initiative & Student Success (SAEM/AISS) Impact Awards, as an outstanding department.

More statistics and features highlighted by the ranking can be found here.


Follow Tirion Morris on Twitter.


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