With the highest admissions standards in the state, USAO is a public college with the mission to provide any bright and talented Oklahoma student affordable access to the type of high quality education found almost exclusively at elite expensive institutions. Its central educational purpose is based on a business plan to develop critically needed talent to serve both the needs of Oklahoma’s workforce and the requirements of responsible citizenship.
USAO’s regularly admitted first-time freshman profile reflects a 24-average ACT, with 70 percent graduating in the top quarter of their high school class, 30 percent in the top tenth. Forty percent hail from the two major metropolitan areas and 20 percent from out-of-state. Ninety percent of students are enrolled full-time with nearly half living on campus.
Since 2005 USAO has hired 32 new full-time teaching faculty to fill resigned or retired vacancies. They come from top graduate programs representing 22 different states across the U.S. Ninety percent hold the highest degree in their teaching field; 80 percent with doctorates.
Over 90 percent of USAO’s student recruits after one year actively persist either at USAO or are pursuing their degrees at other Oklahoma institutions. Since before 2005 USAO’s graduation rates have increased from 31 to 41 percent. Since before 2005 enrollment in remedial courses has declined 60 percent.
With an annual maximum cost of $11,100 - $12,650 for a 30-hour academic credit load, room and board, USAO is cited in numerous national publications for its lower costs. US News & World Report’s America’s Best Colleges lists USAO on its roster of “Least Debt” for graduates as one of the top 100 of all institutions nationwide. The Oklahoma Employment Security Commission and the Oklahoma Tax Commission report that USAO graduates after both one year and five years are employed in-state at some of the highest rates for public colleges and universities in Oklahoma.
In order to augment state funding, USAO aggressively pursues private fundraising. Since 2005, the college has increased its private invested working assets by 70 percent to over $15 million. It has increased total annual student scholarship distribution from $1.7 to $2.5 million. It has raised $11 million in gift and gift-related income, reflecting a $1.4 million annual average over the past eight years.
USAO’s academic quality and reasonable cost have attracted unusual national, independent and unsolicited recognition. USAO is the only school in Oklahoma that US News & World Report’s America’s Best Colleges assigns to an institutional category that includes many of the most prestigious and expensive private colleges and universities in the nation. Only five percent in this group are public, including the three major military academies. Kiplinger Personal Finance Magazine lists USAO on its exclusive national roll of the 100 “Best Values in Public Colleges” in America. A Washington D.C. education thinktank, the American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA), annually reviews and evaluates the required core curriculums of over a 1000 colleges and universities nationwide. Grading their content and quality from A to F, for both 2012 and 2013 USAO is one of only 21 institutions in the United States on which ACTA bestows an “A” grade. Using US News institutional classifications in its “2012 College Rankings,” the national journal Washington Monthly ranks USAO fourth in the country for “serving the public good” by encouraging “upward social mobility” – a rank based on a formula that factors a school’s graduation rates of lower income federal Pell Grant recipients to net price.