As the 2014-2015 academic year comes to a close, the season of ranking and rating colleges and universities that purport to serve and support military-related students is well underway. The goal for the schools, which voluntarily complete the various surveys, is to improve their rating, ranking, and status as an institution supporting the education of military-related students. A great deal of information is collected from the schools participating in the various surveys. The results of the surveys are published on the various survey websites and the data is group into rating categories which include but are not limited to: methods of learning; military and veteran tuition rates; flexibility; having a veteran’s office/space; acceptance of ACE credits; staff and academic support; academic programs offered; military culture; graduation rates and accreditation. This is all great information to have to help you make a decision, but which one is most important? How do you sift through the information? Do you just take the rankings at face value and go with #1?
To help you gain a better understanding of the surveys, a good place to start is to research the methodology used by the surveying agency to develop their rating/ranking list. The methodology used by the rating/ranking agency should explain their rational for each rated category and identify any weighting used.
The question you need to ask yourself when reviewing the methodologies and the rankings presented in the surveys; are they in line with what is important to you when it comes to selecting a school to attend?
One rating/ranking agency lists military support on campus as their most important rated category; while, flexibility for military students is listed as forth in importance, and this takes precedence over military/veteran graduation rates. Does their methodology explain why? Are these in line with your own priorities and levels of importance?
The intent of this blog has been and will continue to be, to inform you the military-related student, so you can be a more informed consumer in the military educational market place. The various rating/ranking agencies that evaluate participating colleges and universities serve their purpose. They gather data, analyze the information, and present it in a user-friendly form, so you can use it to make smart decisions about where to go to college. Using the surveys can help to streamline your decision-making process by narrowing down the list of schools for you to really research. All you need to do is to make sure you determine what is important to you when you are conducting your final analysis before making a very important decision, a decision that has a value of well over $100,000 if you are a 100% Post 9/11 GI Bill eligible veteran. Though this money is not coming directly out of your pocket, you are still investing in your future. So give this decision some very careful consideration and just don’t make a decision based on a survey rating whose priorities are not in line with yours.