Why go to College in New Mexico?
There are 61 different colleges in the state of New Mexico, including four major universities, graduate schools, community colleges, and beauty schools. There are also a number of online colleges located in New Mexico. Albuquerque is New Mexico’s biggest city and is home to 11 of these 61 colleges. It is the perfect college town, with an average temperature of 57.1°F and an excellent nightlife scene.
The U.S. Census Bureau reports that New Mexico has a population of 2,081,015, with 909,906 of the population residing in Albuquerque where the two largest colleges in the state (Central New Mexico Community College and the University of New Mexico) are located.
If you are looking for a sunny place to live and go to college, then New Mexico is the place to be. According to recent climate data, New Mexico averages 278 sunny days each years, while the national average is just 205 days.
- Number of Higher Learning Institutions
There are a total of 61 higher learning institutions in New Mexico. The five biggest colleges in New Mexico are Central New Mexico Community College, University of New Mexico, New Mexico State University, San Juan College, and Eastern New Mexico University.
- Sporting Events
The University of New Mexico Lobos have a wide variety of men’s and women’s athletic clubs. Their NCAA football team is a part of the Mountain West Conference and plays its home games in Albuquerque. The New Mexico State University Aggies, hailing from Las Cruces, are another popular sports fandom in the state.
The top party school in New Mexico is the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque. The city is home to a wide variety of bars and night clubs, including Sister, Ibiza, Launchpad, and Uptown Funk Dueling Pianos.
What Options are Available for Colleges in New Mexico?
New Mexico State University (NMSU) is one of the state’s largest universities and offers on-campus courses to students on their 900-acre campus. NMSU enrolls more than 15,000 students each year and is home to the very first honors college in the state. The University of New Mexico boasts an 800-acre campus with many buildings that were crafted using the unique Pueblo Revival architectural theme. Most on-campus students live closeby and typically enroll full-time.
Online programs are great for students who do not live close to campus, work full-time, have children, or have busy lives that prevent them from enrolling in classes on-campus. Most online colleges in New Mexico offer courses asynchronously, allowing students to complete coursework at their own pace instead of having to attend class for a set amount of time on predetermined dates. However, these programs do have final deadlines for assignments that keep students on track.
Both of the largest online colleges in New Mexico, The University of New Mexico and NMSU, offer online courses and degrees. The widespread integration of distance education has led to an increase in enrollment and diversity in colleges all across the country.
Hybrid programs consist of a mixture of online and on-campus learning. These classes provide the flexibility of online courses while still giving students a taste of on-campus learning. According to College Raptor, hybrid classes typically include 25-50% online study with the remaining 50-75% of time spent in the classroom. Most class lectures are delivered online, which frees up classroom time for discussing lecture material. If you are uncertain about whether or not distance learning is right for you, then you might want to enroll in a hybrid course to see how you enjoy it.
Popular Degree Programs in New Mexico
Natural gas and oil are two of New Mexico’s biggest industries. As a result, nuclear engineering is the state’s most popular major. Education is also a common major because of the constant need for new teachers and administrators.
Students in nuclear engineering programs learn how to manipulate nuclear energy to produce power and make medical advances by using radiology. This major requires strong math, critical thinking, and science skills and prepares graduates for careers in nuclear power plants, medical research labs, and even the government. Graduates have an average starting salary of $66,087.
A degree in general education prepares students for a variety of careers in the education field, namely as a teacher. Students study foundational topics like educational psychology and learn how to create lesson plans and grade assignments. Depending on their specialty, graduates can teach students in grades PK-12.
Education Trends in New Mexico
New Mexico is middle of the road when it comes to education trends when compared to the rest of the country. The percentage of adults in New Mexico over the age of 25 who have a graduate degree or higher is slightly higher than the national average. While the country has experienced two recessions in the past decade, New Mexico’s economy is growing. In fact, the total revenue per students from tuition in the state has decreased, indicating that the economy is continuing to recover.
|New Mexico||United States|
|Source: SHEEO and U.S. Census|
|Postsecondary Education Spending per Full-Time Student||$6,006||$6,954|
|Percent of Tax Revenue Allocated to Higher Education||5.5%||5.8%|
|Percentage of adults over 25 with associate degree||7.8%||8.1%|
|Percentage of adults over 25 with bachelor’s degree||14.8%||18.5%|
|Percentage of adults over 25 with graduate degree or higher||11.5%||11.2%|
Paying for College in New Mexico
Price is one of the biggest factors when deciding which college to go to. Education is an investment, and coming out of college without student loans of some kind is almost unavoidable. However, spending more doesn’t mean that you’ll receive a better education. A degree from one college can get you the same job that the same degree from a more expensive college can get you. This makes it even more important to shop around and try to find a school with a low tuition rate.
Tuition prices in New Mexico are significantly lower than the average U.S. school. In fact, the cost of tuition at a public two-year school in New Mexico is less than half the national average. Even with the costs of books, transportation, and rent included, the cost of college in New Mexico is much lower than most other states.
Financial aid comes in many forms, including loans, grants, scholarships, and work-study programs. Grants and scholarships do not have to be repaid and therefore should be your most desired type of financial aid. Loans must be repaid with interest, although federal students loans offer payment deferrals and lower interest rates than private loans. Work-study programs offer students the opportunity to work while in school to help fund their education. Every student should fill out a FAFSA application to see what types of federal financial aid they are eligible for. The U.S. Department of Education awards over $120 billion each year in grants and work-study programs, on top of providing loans to more than 13 million students.
Cost for Online Programs in New Mexico
Online colleges in New Mexico offer many of the same financial aid opportunities and their on-campus counterparts. Not only do they offer the same financial aid opportunities, but the overall cost is also lower because students don’t have to worry about certain fees or transportation costs. Plus, the cost of online books is often significantly lower than hard copies of college textbooks.
Cost of Living by Region
The cost of living is different in every city in the U.S. and it can have a great impact on the cost of a college education. Not only do students have to consider the costs of tuition, but they should also research the cost of living in the city where they will have to live during their studies. Important factors to determine the cost of living include the average cost of housing and other necessary expenses. Below are some of the average housing prices in New Mexico and the surrounding areas.
Scholarships for New Mexico College Students
- Manuel Lujan Excellence in Education Scholarship
$500; students must continue their education in New Mexico, have a minimum GPA of 2.5, attend a college or university full-time, and be a graduating senior of one of the listed high schools in the Albuquerque area.
- ACF Notah Begay III Scholarship Program
$1,300; students must have a minimum GPA of 3.0, be Native American scholar-athletes, and provide proof of tribal enrollment or certificate of Indian Blood.
- Albuquerque Open Space Scholarship
$500; students ages 13-21 must participate in or lead an environmental stewardship project for the benefit of any lands managed or co-managed by the Open Space Division, take photos of the project in action, and write an essay (750-1,500 words) about the project.
- Church's Chicken Community Scholarship Program
$1,000; students must have a minimum GPA of 2.7, and be planning to enroll in the entire upcoming academic year at an accredited two-year or four-year college, university or vocational-technical school in the U.S.
- Henry & Joyce W. Sumid Scholarship
$5,000; students can either be high school seniors and college students interested in studying theatre arts who reside in New Mexico or surrounding states.
- MGMA Western Section Scholarships
$2,500; students must reside in MGMA Western section states and be current MGMA members enrolled in an undergraduate or graduate degree program relevant to medical practice management.
- Sussman-Miller Educational Assistance Award Program
$2,000; students must reside in New Mexico, be recipients of federal financial aid, and be a graduating high school senior or currently enrolled in college or university.
- NSHSS Tesoro Youth Leadership Awards
$2,500; students must have a minimum GPA of 3.0, be high school seniors, and live in one of 19 states where Tesoro does business, including New Mexico.
- New Mexico Scholars Program
Amount Varies; students must live in New Mexico, graduate from a New Mexico high school in the top 5% of their class or score 25 on ACT, attend an eligible college or university before they are 21 years old, and have a combined family income that does not exceed $30,000 per year. If two or more family members are in college, combined family income may not exceed $40,000 per year.
- New Mexico Legislative Lottery Scholarship Program
Amount Varies; student must be a resident of New Mexico, have graduated from a New Mexico public school, accredited private school, or obtained a high school equivalency credential in New Mexico. They must also enroll in and complete 15 credit hours per semester at a four-year New Mexico public university or enroll in and complete 12 credit hours per semester at a two-year New Mexico public community college. Finally, the must enroll immediately following high school graduation and have a minimum GPA of 2.5.
Can all Scholarships be Used for Online Programs?
Most scholarships can be used for online programs in the same way that they can be for on-campus programs. Since online schools in New Mexico are quite common, most scholarship that are offered in the state will account for distance learners. If you are unsure whether or not a scholarship is available for online students, then you should reach out to the organization offering the scholarship for clarification.
Employment Outlook in New Mexico
The mining, natural gas, and oil industries are by far the largest employers in New Mexico. The Los Alamos National Laboratory is one of the main employers, with the goal of assuring the safety and reliability of the nation’s nuclear deterrent. Employees work on advanced technologies to provide the U.S. with the best scientific and engineering solutions to the country’s most important challenges. Sandia Corp is another of the state’s largest employers, which delivers important science and technology solutions related to the country’s most challenging security issues.
|New Mexico||United States|
|Source: BLS and BLS|
|Unemployment Rate, May 2017||6.3%||4.3%|
|Annual Mean Wage, May 2016||$44,160||$49,630|
Top Employers and Industries in New Mexico
Top Industries in New Mexico
- Mining:Mining is huge in New Mexico. Coal mining has been prominent for the last century. There are also many thriving potash, copper, silver, and uranium mining operations in the state.
- Oil: Between January and June of 2017, New Mexico produced 79,885 barrels of oil. In 2015, New Mexico ranked sixth in crude oil production.
- Natural Gas: New Mexico has 26% of the country’s coal bed methane reserves. Since the state has a lot of renewable energy potential in the forms of solar, wind, geothermal, and biomass energy, the state can easily export a great deal of its natural gas.
Top Employers in New Mexico
- University of New Mexico: 12,000 employees
- Los Alamos National Laboratory: 11,000 employees
- Sandia Corp: 8,761 employees
Accreditation for Colleges in New Mexico
There are two main types of academic accreditation: regional and national. The majority of regionally accredited colleges are degree-granting, nonprofit institutions and the majority of nationally accredited colleges are trade or vocational schools. Regional accreditation is considered more prestigious than national accreditation. Regionally-accredited colleges usually have instructor-led courses while nationally accredited colleges have more self-study courses.
While accreditation works the same way for online programs, except that there are additional standards for how student services function and how students and faculty interact with one another. Attending an accredited online college is important because many employers that are unfamiliar with distance learning can look to a school’s accreditation status as confirmation of its legitimacy. The U.S. Department of Education has a database of accredited online programs on its website.
Resources for Students in New Mexico
- New Mexico Public Education Department: This website helps students explore different options for colleges, scholarships, career and technical programs, and other topics related to higher education.
- New Mexico State Higher Education Agency: This agency’s website offers resources for students and parents, institutions, researchers, and programs related to financial aid, scholarships, adult education, rule making, and annual reports.
- Academic Keys: This career database website acts as a robust job board, allowing students to search for potential opportunities and for employers to post job descriptions. The site also has a database of faculty and administrators in higher education that is broken down into different academic disciplines.
- Scholarly Hires: This advertising job site is most used by colleges and universities for handling staff, faculty, and post-doc positions. The site has an applicant advice feature and specific categories for community colleges, online schools, and faith-based colleges and universities.
- American Association of University Women: This organization’s website has information about job opportunities at their national office and at colleges and universities located throughout the U.S.