College and university rankings provide a valuable resource for prospective students. Rankings are based on surveys of recent graduates and companies to determine how well schools prepare students for career success. By assessing school rankings, you’ll find valuable information about an institution’s educational quality and reputation.
However, online degree programs are still relatively new to the educational arena. As a result, exact rankings are hard to come by. But that doesn’t mean they don’t exist or that online schools are not effective alternatives to traditional schools. It means you’ll need to find alternative sources to assess the academic quality of an online institution.
Online schools are different from their traditional counterparts. Apart from the obvious reasons, online colleges and universities present unique challenges that students should consider before enrolling. Answer the following questions to ensure that distance learning is the right fit for your needs and goals:
Online learning requires learners to work independently.
You’ll need enough time to dedicate to your studies.
Without a teacher looking over your shoulder, self-motivation is crucial to your success.
Being organized is one of the key characteristics of a successful online student.
Basic computer literacy is required to succeed as an online student.
Learning online can easy for some students and difficult for others. If you’re a parent, employee, and spouse, your role as a student is one more hat to wear. Make sure you’re prepared for online learning before you begin to conduct your research for an online degree.
Rankings serve to provide an objective overview of a school’s educational programs, activities, admissions policies, faculty experience, scholarship and loan programs, and many other factors including:
You may discover that all types of rankings do exist, including lists that rate schools by faculty experience, tuition, financial aid, and other factors. Some rankings rate schools by major, while others focus on certain degree types. Some rankings are based upon registered students’ perceptions of their educational experiences.
Once you’ve compiled a list of prospective schools, it’s time to learn as much as you can about each college or university you’re considering. Rankings will help you compare schools and programs to find the right fit for you.
Several traditional college ranking sites are useful when researching online schools and programs. Such rankings might include online degrees or programs. For example, The Princeton Review includes some online colleges in its lists of colleges. A few tips will help you discover online school rankings within these types of publications:
NOTE: Rankings vary, and compilations can be partial or incomplete so make sure to research as many sources as possible. Don’t limit yourself to one source. Diversify your search to include a variety of sources and publications.
You might learn more about the online program you choose by asking the following questions:
Any metric for college ranking has multiple perspectives or even bias built into it. The graph below shows a comparison of graduation rates, an important school-quality metric, dependent on the school’s level of selectivity, service of low-income demographics, and racial makeup.
The way that an organization ranks colleges can only incorporate a limited number of factors, so if you are going to make a college decision based on rankings, you should look into how the rankings are derived.
Choosing the “perfect” online college or university might be impossible, but any number of programs might be a good fit for you and provide you with the degree you need. In all cases, the value of knowing that a school is accredited can help your search for a quality online experience. That knowledge, combined with rankings and personal insights, can go a long way in validating your choice./all-about-online-university-rankings