Tools for determining college rankings

There’s a big difference between a mediocre college and an excellent one. A difference you will hopefully never had to find out on your own. With so many options to chose from and literature to read, you have to rely on the experts to get down the nitty gritty for all the details of those things which are just not included in the brochure.

The Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education

The Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education serves as a framework for classifying colleges and universities within the United States. The Basic Classification system created by the Carnegie Institute was originally released in 1973. It is used by the US Department of Education for determining colleges’ eligibility for grant money and other resources.

National Center for Educational Statistics

The National Center for Educational Statistics (NCES) is a division of the United States Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences (IES). The primary function of the NCES is to collect and analyze data related to education. In functions as part of a legislation passed through Congress in 1867 which was created to serve the purpose of “collecting such statistics and facts as shall show the condition and progress of education in the several States and Territories, and of diffusing such information respecting the organization and management of schools and school systems, and methods of teaching, as shall aid the people of the United States in the establishment and maintenance of efficient school systems, and otherwise promote the cause of education throughout the country.”

One great feature of the information on the NCES search, is the breakdown of costs of tuitions which can easily be compared between different colleges and universities.

Council for Higher Education Accreditation

The Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) is an organization of 3,000 degree-granting colleges and universities which recognizes 60 institutional and programmatic accrediting organizations. CHEA’s mission is to be a national advocate and institutional voice for self-regulation of academic quality through accreditation. Their website list more than 8,300 degree and non-degree granting educational institutions and more than 21,200 programs which are accredited by United States accrediting organizations that have been recognized either by CHEA or the United States Department of Education. To be “recognized” means that the accreditors in the database have reviewed the organization and meet the quality standards of the organization. Accreditation is important to you as a student, as it allows you to receive financial aid.

Between these resources, you will be able to gather data pertaining to the retention rates, completion rates, accreditation, cost and class sizes between different colleges. These factors are extremely important for the success you have as a student. Cost of tuition determines the amount of debt you will graduate with. This is especially important if you are looking at two different colleges with the same degree programs, but significant differences in cost of tuition. If everything else about the colleges are similar, choose the one with the lowest tuition.  Accreditation determines if you are eligible for aid. Class size determines the amount of attention you will receive from your instructor. Lastly, retention and completion rates can be an indicator of issues within the learning environment that make it difficult for student to complete their degree.