Pollsters: TTU's largest-ever freshman class joining one of the best universities in the South

thumb Freshman_class_convocation_2013As Tennessee Tech University’s largest-ever freshman class settles in, independent researchers are ranking TTU as a top university again this year.

The appeal of TTU to its 2,166-strong freshman class: Academic excellence, accessibility and value. According to preliminary enrollment figures, the Class of 2017 is more than 5 percent larger than last year’s incoming class of first-time freshmen. The class' high school grade point average is 3.5. The average ACT score among first-time TTU freshmen is 23.3, just short of the 2012 ACT average of 23.4.

“Students are turning to Tennessee Tech in larger numbers in part because the reputation of TTU graduates in the workplace is excellent,” said TTU President Phil Oldham. “Employers tell me they find TTU graduates to be hard-working, critical thinkers who join the workforce ready to perform.

“To build on that reputation, we recently introduced a refreshed vision for the university that focuses on producing practical, ready-to-work graduates throughout our broad range of academic disciplines who are prepared to compete in a technologically driven world,” Oldham said. “Plus TTU is committed to doing our part to stop shifting the financial burden to students while maintaining the quality of our degrees so that our graduates can succeed in the national job market.”

Nearly half of the freshmen brought college credit with them to TTU from other institutions, completing the credits while in high school and effectively lowering their total college cost.

The TTU Class of 2017 includes freshmen from 84 of Tennessee’s 95 counties, as well as 17 other states from Florida to California and 21 other countries. Also in common, 177 freshmen have at least one parent who is an alumnus of TTU.

“TTU has always been a great choice for the Upper Cumberland, but now the value of a degree from Tennessee Tech is being recognized not only in Tennessee but across the South and the nation,” Oldham said.

Tuesday, U.S.News & World Report ranked TTU as a top Regional University in the South in its 2014 edition of Best Colleges. Tennessee Tech is the highest-ranked public university in Tennessee on the list. 

U.S.News has ranked TTU among the best regional universities 11 times since 2002. Regional universities provide a full range of undergraduate majors and master’s programs, but fewer doctoral programs than those categorized as national universities.

Earlier this fall, The Princeton Review ranked Tennessee Tech as one of only five public universities in the state on its list, 2014 Best Colleges: Region by Region, Southeast. Only 138 schools in four regions across the country made the Best Colleges lists.

Alongside being a top university based on accreditations, student life and academic success, other researchers put TTU at the top of the list for affordability and lifetime value of a degree from TTU.

TTU ranked 29th in the Best Bang For Your Buck category of the 2013 Washington Monthly College Rankings. The highest-ranking Tennessee school on the list, TTU has 41 percent of students receiving Pell grants, a 50 percent graduation rate and a 4 percent loan default rate among graduates.

Washington Monthly created the rankings category to identify colleges that do the best job of helping students attain marketable degrees at affordable prices.

Similarly, Online College Database named TTU among the Highest Starting Salary Colleges. The Database highlighted 11 Tennessee colleges and universities with annual tuition of less than $20,000, and whose new graduates’ average starting salary is more than $30,000.

The Database also ranked TTU as fourth in the state as a Future Service Member College, categorizing schools that offer more opportunities for civic-minded students.

Affordable Colleges Online ranked TTU third in Tennessee for Return on Investment, based on a solid combination of low cost and lifetime earnings after graduation. AC Online determined ROI based on wage findings from PayScale.com’s 2013 College Earnings Report and other sources, including the Carnegie Foundation and the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System.

AC Online also named TTU among the top 30 colleges in the nation for earning a master’s degree in business administration online. TTU stood out for academic excellence, student engagement and selectivity.

With university enrollment at more than 11,000 students, the College of Arts and Sciences has the third largest enrollment of the seven colleges and schools at TTU. The College of Engineering is the largest, with 2,787 undergraduate and graduate students. The College of Engineering saw a 12.8 percent increase in first-time freshmen this fall from 2012.

The College of Education had the largest enrollment increase among first-time freshmen, up 16.7 percent from 2012. The College of Education is the second largest at TTU, with 2,389 undergraduate and graduate students.