Washington Monthly - September/October 2016 - 24

students and to how well those students fared once they left. Our rankings for four-year schools begin on page 26, for two-year schools on page 30. Our detailed methodology begins on page 34. At the top of our list of four-year schools is San Francisco's Golden Gate University. This 110-year-old institution, which started as a night law school, has long been devoted to the needs of adult learners. That devotion shows up in one of our measures: fully 88 percent of Golden Gate's students are adults (the higher that percentage, the higher a school scores on our rankings). Golden Gate also does well on three metrics of adult student friendliness: "ease of transfer" (how open a school is, for instance, to accepting credits earned at other colleges, and whether it lets adults enroll without having to take tests like the SAT); "flexibility of programs" (whether it offers things like weekend and evening classes and prior learning assessments); and "services for adults" (financial aid counseling, on-campus daycare, job placement, specialized services for military veterans, and so on). Golden Gate does poorly on one metric, tuition and fees (at $14,640 per year, it's relatively expensive), and middling on another, whether adult students are able to pay back at least some of the principal on their loans five years after leaving college. But it partially makes up for that in another important measure: earnings. The mean income of adult students ten years after they enter Golden Gate University is $73,166, the eighteenth highest of the 571 four-year schools we looked at. T you ext " r fr Stri t ee Hig ch" t h S o 44 cho 22 ol S 2 to tud rec en eive tG uid e! BEGIN YOUR MISSION AT STRITCH. OUR MISSION IS TO HELP YOU FIND YOURS. Cardinal Stritch University offers more than 60 undergraduate and graduate degree programs that help students develop skills, gain career-related experience and build professional networks. Apply today! www.stritch.edu/apply Several other four-year colleges that traditionally focus on adult learners also do well on our rankings. They include Regis University, a private nonprofit in Colorado (number twenty-two); Charter Oak State College in Connecticut (twenty-eight), University of Maryland's University College (fifty-three), and the State University of New York (SUNY) Empire State College (sixty-three). So do a smattering of highly regarded state flagships, like the University of Iowa (thirteen) and Indiana University Bloomington (fifty-seven). Equally instructive are the schools that don't make the list. No for-profit colleges score in the top 100- though one, Walden University in Minnesota, a private institution organized as a "public benefit corporation," clocks in at number nineteen. Also absent are Ivy League colleges, or indeed any of the private elite institutions that crowd the top of U.S. News's rankings. Few of these institutions even made it into the 571 schools we looked at. That is because they enroll too few adult students for the federal government to provide statistically reliable loan repayment and earnings data. For the most part, these elite schools simply aren't in the business of educating adults. Instead, our top 100 four-year list is dominated by the kinds of workaday schools-Montana State University Billings (number fifteen), University of Missouri- Kansas City (number twenty)-that U.S. News tends to ignore. But according to our data, they deserve three cheers for providing affordable, career-enhancing college educations to America's working adult students. Community colleges seldom enjoy national reputations. One that does, Miami Dade College in Florida, the second-largest institution of higher education in the country, comes in at number seventy-nine on our ranking of the 100 best two-year schools. Mostly, though, the colleges on our two-year list are largely unknown outside their communities but warrant national recognition for delivering big-time for adult learners. Inver Hills Community College in Minnesota (number seven) garnered the highest scores possible on our ease of transfer and flexibility measures. And students at number one- ranked Weber State University in Utah, which grants mostly two-year degrees, earn an impressive $50,867 on average ten years after enrolling in college-the sixthhighest income among the 1,171 community colleges we looked at. Every year, millions of adult Americans make the decision to go back to college to earn the degrees they need to advance their lives. We hope these rankings will help them pick colleges where they have the best chance of achieving their goals. Just as important, we hope that by honoring colleges that do right by adult students, we'll spur more colleges to do the same. Milwaukee, Wisconsin * Brookfield, Wisconsin * Madison, Wisconsin * Online Paul Glastris is editor in chief of the Washington Monthly. 24 September/October 2016 http://www.stritch.edu/apply http://www.stritch.edu/apply

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Washington Monthly - September/October 2016

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