In this ranking, we examine top value universities and colleges in New Mexico for 2016.
As a Western state and one of the last to join the Union (1912, making it the 47th state), New Mexico doesn’t benefit from the same long history – and thus prestigious, centuries-old universities – that many of its Eastern neighbors do. For residents insistent on going to school in-state, the choices for four-year, public or private non-profit institutions are fairly limited. That also means that our scores for some New Mexico schools – given that they are all ranked against each other and the points are relative to the state – might seem lower than other state rankings. However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t some excellent best value colleges and universities in New Mexico! From the New Mexico Institute for Mining and Technology, which has perfected the art of career prep, to private liberal arts colleges like St. John’s, New Mexico is diligent and thorough in the selection of higher education options that it offers.
The ranking below is a unique one, focusing on a somewhat intangible metric we call “best value.” Of course, in an attempt to identify the schools that really do provide great value – that is, low cost and high quality – we had to quantify each college’s performance and turn value into a tangible asset. As our methodology indicates, the goal here was to capture the cost of a great collegiate experience by simultaneously measuring factors such as net price, selectivity, and post-grad success.
Methodology: Ranking Best Value Universities and Colleges in New Mexico
Graduation Rate: This indicator refers to the percentage of students who complete their degree within 150% of normal time (six years for a typical four-year degree program). Schools that perform well in this area have a track record of keeping students engaged and successful for their entire time on campus. We weighted this category 30% of the total and retrieved the information from College Navigator.
Net Price: In order to make sure that cost was still a factor in the ranking, we also considered overall net price as an indicator. Taken from data on College Navigator, “net price” is an approximate value that refers to the average amount of money a student could expect to pay each year after taking into account tuition, room and board, living expenses, scholarship awards, and financial aid packages. We weighted this category 25% of the total.
Acceptance Rate: Academically challenging, popular universities tend to be more selective and thus have a lower acceptance rate. In order to pinpoint those colleges that boast rigorous academics and also receive a large number of applications, we considered acceptance rate – the percentage of students out of the total number of applicants who receive an acceptance letter. We retrieved this information from College Navigator and weighted it 30% of the total.
20-Year Net Return on Investment: Taken from information on the website PayScale, this statistic provides a picture of how much students can expect to make after they graduate from a particular college. More specifically, the figure is calculated by taking the average income an alumnus will make over his or her first 20 years after graduation and subtracting the amount paid in tuition. Schools with a high ROI tend to be better at preparing their students for the job market. We weighted this category only 15% because data was not available for all colleges considered.
After adding all the points, we gave each university a final score out of 200. The schools below have scores ranging from 77 to 148, and each has something different to offer in terms of its cost, quality, and reputation. No one college is perfect (which is why the scores vary so much) but this ranking offers you a premier selection of universities to help get you started on your search for an education in New Mexico.
5. St. John’s College
Santa Fe, NM
St. John’s Santa Fe campus (the other location is in Annapolis, MD) offers a beautiful, scenic environment for any college student. The 250-acre campus sits between the Sangre de Cristo Mountains and a lively downtown area, which offers an eclectic mix of museums, galleries, and shops. Although the city vibe is young and relaxed, students at this top university in New Mexico are serious and pensive when it comes to their studies. The curriculum is rooted in a deep love for the liberal arts, and students take small, seminar-style classes. Even math and science majors should expect long reading assignments and philosophical discussions, which cover Archimedes, Euclid, Avogadro, and more.
Net Price: $27,172/yr
4. Eastern New Mexico University
Forget frilly slogans and lofty promises; Eastern New Mexico University is a straight-shooting university that makes a direct commitment to student success. As this affordable New Mexico college says, “that’s what it’s all about!” The school is also the largest comprehensive research university in the state and an official “Hispanic-serving” institution. ENMU also goes above and beyond to do its part to keep education affordable; it ranks in the top 10% of low-cost universities in the Southwestern region, and Texas residents within 135 miles can even qualify for in-state tuition!
Net Price: $10,428/yr
3. New Mexico State University
Las Cruces, NM
This New Mexico university claims to be “all about discovery,” and it offers an extensive array of resources to back up this assertion. It’s a space-grant institution, hosts the oldest honors college in the state, and is home to a multi-cultural population of more than 15,000 students. NMSU excels when it comes to public outreach, too; its five state campuses and many satellite learning centers, cooperative extension offices, and agricultural research sites collectively serve residents of all New Mexico’s 33 counties. And as one of the best universities in New Mexico, NMSU doesn’t slack on the academic side, either. Majors include Agricultural Biology, Conservation Ecology, Digital Film Making, Genetics, and even Turfgrass Science – all great choices that have helped the school maintain a 20-year net ROI of $417,000!
Net Price: $10,299/yr
2. University of New Mexico
The University of New Mexico has been the flagship institution of the state for more than 100 years, and it has served this esteemed position well. The distinctive, 800-acre campus is overflowing with unique features, from the popular arboretum and duck pond to the Pueblo architecture to the breathtaking views of the Sandia Mountains. But students won’t spend all their time staring at the mountains – the 200+ academic degree programs will keep them hitting the books, whether they major in Architecture, Journalism, Nursing, or Physics. Of course, not everyone can enjoy all the opportunities at this top New Mexico college, and its 45% acceptance rate makes it one of the most selective in the state.
Net Price: $12,840/yr
1. New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology
The New Mexico institute of Mining and Technology is first on this list for many reasons, but its reputation for student success really sets it apart from the crowd. The school’s $583,000 net ROI is the highest in the state, and it’s no surprise New Mexico Tech comes out on top in this category. Academic departments focus on some of the most in-demand fields of the 21st century, including Chemical Engineering, Computer Science, Mathematics, Management, Petroleum Engineering, and Physics. Students can also get involved in the many great research programs at this affordable college in New Mexico, including the Petroleum Recovery Research Center and the Mount Erebus Volcano Observatory.
Net Price: $11,789/yr
This concludes our ranking of best value New Mexico colleges and universities.
About the Author:
Iris Stone began her writing career as a freelance writer and researcher. She now owns and operates a writing and editing firm that works with clients all across the country. Her work has included articles related to education policy, colleges and universities, academic programs, and careers.