AFA ranks 18th of 357 colleges by the Princeton Review

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The best way to judge an institution of higher learning might be to ask the students who attend. And if you ask the cadets at the Air Force Academy, their educational experience is on of the best in the nation.

The Air Force Academy is ranked 18th in Overall Academic Experience, according to the Princeton Review’s “The Best 357 Colleges – 2005 edition.”

The annual rankings are the result of input from more than 110,000 students at 357 colleges.

Students and cadets ranked their respective universities on a wide range of academic categories, including: professor availability, amount of studying, toughest to get into, class discussions and if professors “bring material to life.”

The colleges also are rated in many other ways, under the categories of quality of life, administration, politics, demographics, social life and extracurricular activities.

This year, the Air Force Academy landed on 13 of the Princeton Review’s 64 Top 20 lists, including:

* No. 2 in ‘Don’t Inhale’ (low drug usage)

* No. 3 in ‘Lots of Race/Class Interaction’

* No. 5 in ‘Professors Make Themselves Available’

* No. 6 in ‘Future Rotarians And Daughters Of The American Revolution’ (combination of political persuasion, low drug use, prevalence of religion and popularity of student government)

* No. 6 in ‘Most Politically Active’

* No. 8 in ‘Most Nostalgic For Ronald Reagan’ (leans right politically)

* No. 12 in ‘Students Pray on a Regular Basis’

* No. 13 in ‘Everyone Plays Intramural Sports’

* No. 17 in ‘School Runs Like Butter’ (administration)

* No. 18 in ‘Best Overall Academic Experience for Undergraduates’

* No. 18 in ‘Stone-Cold Sober Schools’ (combination of low alcohol & drug use, hours of study each day, popularity of Greek system)

* No. 18 in ‘Scotch And Soda, Hold The Scotch’

* No. 20 in ‘Town-Gown Relations Are Good’

The workload here, by all accounts, is tremendous; as one cadet put it, “They purposely place 25 hours of tasks in every 24-hour day. It’s tough, but if you work as a team and put forth all your effort every day, this place won’t be too bad.”

Cadets average 15.5 semester hours during their initial academic semester, then have a minimum 18-hour semester hour course load until their final senior semester here. Air Force Academy cadets also juggle their academic workload with mandatory intramural or extramural athletics, military training activities, and honor and character development courses. In addition, cadet squadrons are active with community service projects, and senior and junior class cadets hold leadership positions within the Academy’s 4,000-cadet strong Cadet Wing.

“Overall, it’s a good experience; we learn time management very quickly,” said one surveyed cadet.

The total academic curriculum is designed to develop future Air Force officers whose minds are innovative, analytical, and resourceful. The excellent education that Academy graduates receive reflects in the number of prestigious postgraduate scholarships and fellowships they have been awarded. In 40 years, cadets have won more than 2,100 of these prestigious awards, including 32 Rhodes and 6 Marshall Scholarships. In addition, Academy cadets have won an impressive 11 Truman Scholarships in the last 9 years. For its innovative academic programs and student learning focus, the Academy was named one of only 10 “Leadership Institutions” in the United States in 2000 by the American Association of Colleges and Universities. The Academy was selected as a Truman Foundation Honor Institution, one of only four institutions awarded this recognition in 2001. To further motivate academic excellence, the Academy has a Graduate School Program that annually allows approximately 40 selected cadets to attend advanced degree programs immediately after graduation. This program prepares them for a possible future assignment back to the faculty. Additionally, the National Competitive Scholarship Program allows approximately 20 cadets to attend prestigious international and national graduate schools for advanced educational opportunities.