The 13 Characteristics of Excellence

by Erik Presley | February 27, 2012 | Blogs 1 Comment

Insurance for Your Education Investment

After so many years in higher education consulting I’m compelled to address a continuing misconception in the international community: the high regard for brand identity in the pursuit of intelligence or knowledge. What do I mean? There is a generally accepted idea that future job placement and advancement is dependent on which university one has attended.Chemistry Students

Without completely addressing all issues with this philosophy I do want to enumerate a few factual and common sense contradictions to this philosophy.

First, a hiring business or organization will care more about the presentation and demonstration of the applicant’s ability to contribute to the company. The name of an institution will not accomplish that need. What is critical is the resume or job application’s ability to present what the individual is capable of and this is done through awards received during the time at the university and the extra-curricular activities presented.

Second, let’s be honest. Jobs are found through the network of relationships, not by the brand. Will the brand help? Only if the student exercises emotional intelligence to flex those muscles and build contacts. This can be accomplished at any reputable institution of higher education. A comical hypothetical, impossible scenario is connecting with Bill Gates based on an institution’s degree; this is because he did not finish at any university – he dropped out.

Distinguished or Reputable University – The Qualifications

What qualifications would I give to distinguish a university as a reputable university? I begin with stating, “one that is accredited is a must.” Second, a university that has a proven track record. This is defined by several characteristics listed in ELI 360’s 13 Characteristics of Excellence.

3.  Graduates are readily admitted into graduate or professional schools.

Eighty plus percent (80%+) is the required placement rate for a university that partners with ELI 360.

Note: The national average for medical school acceptance is 45.2% of all applications according to the Association of American Medical Colleges. (Acceptance increases with higher MCAT and GPA scores.) Therefore, by selecting an ELI 360 university you have a 25% better opportunity with hard work to gain admission into a medical program.

4. Graduates gain employment in the first 90 days after graduation at a rate better than 70% in their career field.

5. Graduates who have gained a reputation of success in their career.

6. Another important characteristic of reputable universities is alumni who consistently state their education was provided by professors rather than graduate students who are working on their higher degree.

Other factors that contribute to the strength of academics consists of the university’s environment for learning. While these aspects can be debated in any discussion they are widely held as common sense.

7. The university offers a strong set of majors.

8. The university maintains a true small class size environment.

With faculty to student ratio’s of 11 to 1 toward 20 to 1 students will be well served by the expert professor instead of graduate students.

9. For undergraduate students the most important contributor to education excellence is who teaches in the classroom; is it a graduate assistant or the professor?

For ELI 360 we look for universities that have 70% or better of the classes taught by professors.

10. The university employs 70% or more of their faculty who have their terminal or highest degree in their field.

All ELI 360 universities partners have a 70% or above faculty with their highest level of education and they teach in the classroom which ensures field expertise is offered in the classroom setting.

11. The university has a student population between 2,000 and 12,000 and has all the campus property within an undivided land area surrounded by residential areas. These two characteristics ensure the highest possibility of safety and friendly university community.

12. For international students the remaining characteristics of excellence are issues of opportunity and leadership development.

13. Finally, for an international family to invest in U.S. higher education they are the wiser if they send their child to the middle section of the U.S. to a private university in order to ensure they have a genuine American culture experience away from their own ethnic group.

As a side note most families know the famous private universities like Baylor, Duke, Emory, Northwestern, Purdue, Rice, SMU, Vanderbilt, Wake Forest, etc. these are all in the middle United States. ELI 360 Universities are all in the same geographic area and provide all the qualities discussed above.

ELI 360 Available States

ELI 360 Available States


  1. eli360 » U.S. News and World Report College Rankings
    February 27, 2012

    [...] a follow up to this article, I recommend reading Erik Presley’s post about the characteristics of excellence we look for when assessing the quality of a university. Topics: college choice, international [...]

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