Bethany Montgomery, Staff Writer
With in-person classes unexpectedly ending for college students in the 2020 Spring semester, the Saint Martin’s community has also faced some major readjustments to spring classes while moving back home from campus. For seniors, this change has hit especially hard, as the dismissal for spring break unknowingly served as a final goodbye between graduating seniors and their friends. However, while keeping in mind the health and safety of the community, Saint Martin’s has chosen not to abandon the tradition of commencement, instead holding the ceremony in September, during Labor Day weekend.
In an email to the school on March 27, Saint Martin’s President, Roy Heynderickx, shared the university’s intention to uphold this tradition that so many students and families look forward to. With each new challenge, and there have been many, those associated with Saint Martin’s have leaned into the Benedictine values: “We’ve worked to listen to one another, to respect one another, to strive for moderation, and to not be afraid to change decisions if needed due to the evolving situation. I hope you see, as I do, that this is a community that truly cares for one other.”
While Saint Martin’s has been recognizing students at home, the school itself has been lauded for its academic achievements. This year, Saint Martin’s was recognized as number one in return on investment for private schools in the State of Washington. Although tuition at private universities is often higher than state schools, the number of scholarships they offer, and graduation rate, play a role in producing the best value for tuition paid. Money Magazine also ranked Saint Martin’s in their Top 50 Most Transformative Colleges in the United States; the only university in Washington to make the list.
According to LendEDU, the average student debt in Washington is approximately $23,671, with Saint Martin’s having one of the lowest, especially for a private university. Niche, a college ranking site, averaged Saint Martin’s loan debt per year to be $6,724. It also ranked the median earnings post-graduation to be approximately $47,800 per year, which is $14,000 over the national average. Saint Martin’s also has an 89 percent employment rate within two years of graduation.
Heynderickx also commented on the importance of these awards: “National recognitions are important as they confirm what we know about Saint Martin’s, it is a great investment for education and life in general. Our graduates do well in both careers and life, a reflection of our focus on values and curriculum.”
Saint Martin’s is also nationally ranked number 15 for Best Colleges for Veterans, in regard to its Veterans support system on campus, as well as supporting active-duty members at its satellite location on Joint Base Lewis-McChord.
Certainly, no school, private or public, could be considered above criticism; not to mention the countless factors that can determine a school’s eligibility for “Best University.” Most ranking sites consider personal reviews, graduation rate, average salary post-graduation, and services offered for current students.
Private universities tend to rank higher in student-staff ratio, and quality of student-professor interaction, which would not necessarily affect the quality of the education. As with many private schools, Saint Martin’s also ranks high in financial aid, with 99 percent of students having some assistance with tuition payments, making it as affordable as many state schools.
Saint Martin’s various recognitions help solidify its place on a national scale, while its response and support for its current students during the COVID-19 pandemic demonstrate the emphasis on placing students first, while encouraging them to serve their community.
As best put in its mission statement: “Saint Martin’s students learn to make a positive difference in their lives and in the lives of others through the interaction of faith, reason, and service.”