College ranking: Is it really helpful?
We’ve all seen the lists of “Top Colleges for Science Majors,” “Best Party Schools,” “Best Value Schools,” or “Top Public Universities.” Are these really helpful when choosing an institution for higher education? What are the best criteria to use when making the choice?
This week US News and World Report released its College Rankings and Lists. This ranking compares tuition, enrollment, acceptance rate, average freshman retention rate, six-year graduation rate, number of classes with fewer than 20 students and number of students who scored 25th-75th percentile on the SAT/ACT.
How do Wisconsin technical colleges measure up? Our acceptance rate is much higher than most colleges and universities. We even help people who aren’t quite ready for college work prepare for the rigors of college classes. Tuition is much lower than four-year public and private colleges and universities in the state.
Students enrolled in Wisconsin technical colleges often have many challenges. Wisconsin’s 16 technical colleges serve a diverse population with varying educational goals. Our students include part-time and full-time students pursuing two-year degrees, one-year diplomas, occupational certificates, high school credentials and liberal arts transfer credits. So what is our retention rate? Does it include students who get a job before completing their degree? Or the students who take more than six years to complete a degree because they are working full-time to support their family? What about students who transfer to a four-year university?
For the most accurate statistical data on the 16 colleges in the Wisconsin Technical College System check out the WTCS Fact Book (2013), the Graduate Follow-Up Report 2012, or the Longitudinal Follow-Up Report. There you will find information about student success such as degrees granted, number of graduates, graduate employment status and salaries of graduates.
The best way to choose a college is not by comparing them to each other, but by comparing them to your own set of goals, needs, financial situation and values. Make your own list and find the top college for you.