Fairfield University is officially ranked among the Top Colleges in America for 2023-2024, according to new rankings published by Scholarships360 on Oct. 25. The list only recognizes the top eight percent out of 1,800 colleges and universities nationwide. 

Fairfield University stands as one of six Connecticut schools and one of five Jesuit institutions in the country to be recognized by the organization. Fairfield, Wesleyan University and Yale University are Connecticut’s only qualifying private institutions; Connecticut’s list of honorees is completed by the University of Connecticut, University of Connecticut-Hartford Campus and University of Connecticut-Waterbury Campus. 

“Fairfield really stood out when we looked at the outcome metrics of degree completion and salary – both of which are significantly above the national median,” stated CEO and Cofounder of Scholarships360 Will Geiger in a statement to The Mirror.

The annual list is determined through a careful evaluation of affordability and student outcomes. Scholarships360 calculates student outcomes specifically through graduation income, completion rates, average student debt and net price. For Fairfield University, the following data was compiled:

  • Median Earnings 10 Years Post-graduation: $95,393.00
  • 6 Year Graduation Rate: 84
  • Net Price: $43,569.00
  • Median Debt: $26,000

Although the Jesuit institution was recognized as a top college overall, a rank as a top college in affordability was not achieved. Regarding affordability, individual factors such as state residency are not taken into account. However, the organization reminds readers that listed institutions have a “great track record” for being affordable and may also issue strong financial aid packages.

Geiger contends that, unlike other collegiate rankings that examine “vanity” elements such as peer reviews and graduate donations, their organization directs attention towards real student benefits. Leaving behind the common obsession with prestige, their editorial team utilizes only the facts to decide which schools are truly committed to their students.

“We want our Top Colleges lists to help students make a very high-stakes decision and think about college like an investment,” reported Geiger. “We also didn’t want to rank colleges in a numerical order. Instead, our College Lists help show students the colleges and universities that are providing the strongest value or are the most affordable.”

All data used for selections was obtained through the Department of Education’s College Scorecard dataset to, according to Geiger, “ensure accuracy and consistency.” 

The list also notes that the Scorecard lacked data from certain schools, hence blocking their ability to assess potential qualifiers. Among these schools were U.S. Military Academies.

With over 2,500 four-year colleges in the United States, Fairfield University fares evidently well among its competitors, beating out fellow Connecticut institutions such as Sacred Heart University and Quinnipiac University. Other Catholic schools in New England, such as Fordham University and Providence College, are neither given the same glory as the Jesuits on North Benson.

Scholarships360 is a virtual platform that provides over four million students the necessary tools, advice and recommendations to make an informed choice about higher education. This information is offered by experts each year and additionally aids students with financial dilemmas. 

“We see the process of paying for college as a problem of ‘shopability’–students have thousands of options and must sift through dozens of data points to make a good decision,” said Scholarships360 Cofounder and Chief Operational Officer Brian Geiger.

Geiger shared that a vast portion of the organization’s mission is to “bridge the information gap when it comes to shopping around for college.” As a first-generation student himself, as well as a former admissions officer and high school counselor, he understands the disadvantages faced by underrepresented students in obtaining this influential knowledge as well as paying for school overall.

“Scholarships360 provides content that is vetted by college admissions experts, a scholarship matching platform, and other tools to help students make all of the big decisions around their higher education,” he declared. “We also fund a number of exclusive scholarships that students can apply to through our platform.”

During his own college search, the U.S. News & World Report College Ranking proved extremely helpful in determining his perfect collegiate fit and discovering unconsidered options. Nonetheless, Geiger notices an apparent stray in their original goal to serve as a resourceful and consumer-friendly tool.

“We’ve seen colleges try to game the system, cut corners, or even provide incorrect data to get a leg up,” he confessed. He predicts an increase in more relevant ways to assess colleges, but also believes much of that responsibility lies in the institutions themselves. 

In light of these scandals, numerous colleges and universities have voluntarily withdrawn from the U.S. News & World Report Rankings this past year, including Yale, Harvard and Columbia University. USA Today disclosed in February that “dozens of medical schools and over 40 law schools” declared their decision to stop providing information for the list under the reasoning of admittance biases and unfair punishment regarding graduate careers.

To begin the journey towards amends, Geiger places prime responsibility on the institutions themselves.

“I also think that it’s up to the colleges and universities to do a better job of explaining their value and telling their story, as opposed to simply relying on a numerical ranking.”

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