For the second year in a row, the Texas A&M College of Agriculture and Life Sciences has been ranked No. 2 among the best colleges for agricultural sciences in the U.S., according to the latest Niche 2023 college rankings.
Niche rankings are designed to help parents and students find the “right fit” when deciding which school to attend, whether that be K-12 or a university, according to the Pittsburgh-based company’s website.
Niche bases its rankings on data provided by the U.S. Department of Education and other sources, such as the National Science Foundation. This data is then combined with reviews from college students. In addition to evaluating academics, Niche also evaluates areas such as value, diversity, safety, student life and more, to gauge the full college experience.
Texas A&M University student rating responses showed that the academic community, faculty members and staff were all seen as supportive in and out of the classroom and praised the overall environment of the university.
“The ranking reflects the priority that Texas A&M places on ‘putting the student first,’” said Chris Skaggs, Ph.D., associate vice chancellor for stakeholder relations and associate dean for student development for the College. “The College of Agriculture and Life Sciences prioritizes the student experience through the quality and rigor of its academic programs. Additionally, the Aggie core values serve to unite our student body, and traditions such as Fish Camp, Silver Taps, Muster and Big Event reflect the sense of family which permeates our campus.”
The family atmosphere starts with the departments, which are also nationally recognized as leaders in their respective areas. Recently, the Texas A&M Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering was again named as one of the best programs in the nation, according to the annual Best Colleges rankings by U.S. News & World Report. The department ranked No. 4 among undergraduate agricultural engineering programs nationally and remained the No. 1 program in Texas.
Positive experiences, in and out of the classroom
Among the resources the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences students have remarked on are hands-on learning experiences that go beyond the classroom, field and lab.
“Experiential learning opportunities found in laboratories and high impact programs such as internships, undergraduate research and study abroad opportunities better prepare our students for the future as well,” said Skaggs.
Opportunities through 15 departments, 38 undergraduate majors and tracks, and 27 minors contributed to the overall satisfaction of students. The driving force behind these educational opportunities was seen as the over 300 faculty members who students applauded for being caring and actively involved in their education at a personal level.
“Faculty and staff in our college truly care about the individual student and serve as mentors for the undergraduate journey, in and out of the classroom,” said Skaggs.
Faculty members and staff within the College work to enhance the education of their students by leading and encouraging them to get involved in student organizations or teams. These organizations can provide networking connections by developing relationships with faculty members, staff, industry leaders and fellow students. More than 60 student organizations exist at the College and department levels.
Involving students in the bigger picture
Students also benefit from the fact that the College is a member of Texas A&M AgriLife, along with Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, Texas A&M AgriLife Research, Texas A&M Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory and Texas A&M Forest Service. Because College faculty members work closely with faculty and staff at these other institutions, their students gain opportunities to participate in collaborations within this agriculture and life sciences “wing” within The Texas A&M University System.
“It is our mission to recruit outstanding students to Texas A&M and then provide them with a first-class education and leadership opportunities to make a difference in the world following graduation,” said Skaggs. “Our 550,000-plus former students serve as a network to endless career possibilities for our students.”
Frequent collaborations of faculty members with other state agencies, universities, government organizations and industry groups around the world provide students with more opportunities and contribute to students consistently ranking the College highly on platforms like Niche.