The aim of TheBestSchools.org is to help you gain the knowledge, skills, and credentials you need to achieve personal happiness and career success. To that end, we research and write primarily about online and on-campus colleges & universities, which include undergraduate, graduate, doctoral, and post-doc programs. While our focus is on secondary and higher education, we also address trade & vocational education, primary (K–8) education, certifications, select alternative schools, and general topics of interest to learners.
The Need for The Best Schools
Education changes lives for the better. Since our founding in 2011, our mission has been to provide the best resources and advice to assist learners through every step of their education, into their careers, and toward sustainable lifelong learning. You matter to us. It’s why we as the team at TheBestSchools.org are committed to being approachable and personable. Too much of the education process has become distant, and that’s an impediment we wish to overcome.
Without a doubt, education in America is a proven means to better employability. And satisfying work is a foundation for a happy life. But we also believe that learning is its own reward, and it’s why we create a place where you can find the facts and tools you need to make the best choices for your education at every stage of life. We want to partner with you in your lifelong learning to help find the best school for you.
What We Make Available to You
For you to reach your goals for education and beyond, we offer the following on TheBestSchools.org website:
- Rankings of fully accredited online and on-campus colleges, universities, graduate and postgraduate schools, and specialty schools;
- Degree program information covering rankings and general info at the associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s, doctoral, and postdoctoral levels;
- Careers information for help making the most of the skills gained through education;
- Feature articles of interest to lifelong learners that cover a variety of educational topics, challenging ideas, profiles of thought leaders, and much more;
- Resources for learning, which include our one-stop Source pages on financial aid, schooling affordability, online colleges, learning tools, and also our helpful Savvy Student’s Guides; and
- The Quad, our online ’zine catering to high school juniors and seniors, and college & graduate school students, with an eye to what’s hot in pop culture, online education, education policy, and college life.
In all our school rankings and recommendations, we strive to be objective and balanced. We carefully research our rankings and recommendations, and we do so apart from any financial incentives. Our articles never promote or disregard a school for financial gain. We simply provide the best rankings on the web, and we make our process no mystery:
TheBestSchools.org is proud to be an organizational member of the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC). Founded in 1937, NACAC is
dedicated to serving students as they make choices about pursuing postsecondary education. NACAC is committed to maintaining high standards that foster ethical and social responsibility among those involved in the transition process….
We are also an organizational member of the American Council on Education (ACE), which
mobilizes the higher education community to shape effective public policy and foster innovative, high-quality practice. Among ACE’s members are 1,700 college and university presidents and their school’s executive staff, covering all types of two-year & four-year, public & private, accredited, degree-granting institutions in the U.S., which represent two-thirds of the nation’s students. ACE promotes economic opportunity and social mobility; champions affordable, high-quality, innovative higher education that is open to all; and creates forward-thinking services and programs to help build visionary leaders within the educational field.
Our commitment to affiliations with the nation’s leading education-focused organizations reflects our desire to offer students the best possible resources and counsel. To that end, we seek memberships and partnerships that will help us help you.
Who We Are
TheBestSchools.org is an independent organization comprised of a dedicated group of educators, editors, authors, and web professionals who — like you — believe learning transforms lives for the better and should remain a lifelong pursuit. The members of our Academic Advisory Board serve as experienced, professional, academic guides for TheBestSchool.org, providing needful insights into the field of education and its ever-changing dynamics. Editors at TheBestSchools.org know the academic world inside out, with some holding PhDs and having extensive experience in teaching, research, and publishing at the university level. Committed to freedom of thought and expression, we seek to avoid bias and conflicts of interest.
TheBestSchools.org Academic Advisory Board
Erika Camacho, Ph.D.
Mathematical & Natural Sciences
Arizona State University
Erika brings a wealth of STEM knowledge in the field of mathematics. Her notable teaching career includes serving as the Dr. Martin Luther King Visiting Assistant Professor in mathematics at MIT, assistant professor at Loyola Marymount (LMU), and co-director of the Applied Mathematical Sciences Summer Institute at LMU & Cal Poly, with additional work with Los Alamos National Laboratory, Hope College, and Cornell University. She currently collaborates with experimentalists and experts on the retina from the Vision Institute of Paris, Massachusetts Ear and Eye Infirmary, and UMass Medical School, as well as with other mathematicians.
Erika has been profiled and featured in multiple media outlets, including Univision Nightly News in
Erika Camacho’s Inspirational Story, the SIAM News in
The Intersecting Lives of Two Mathematicians in East L.A., and recently in Voces,
I Am the American Dream: Erika Tatiana Camacho, Ph.D. CBS Evening News and NBC Nightly News both interviewed Erika in a segment honoring Jaime Escalante, of whom she was a student at Garfield High School in East LA.
Erika’s leadership, scholarship, and mentoring have won her many national and regional recognition including the Great Minds in STEM Education Award, the Hispanic Women Corporation National Latina Leadership Award, the Victoria Foundation Higher Education Outstanding STEM Award, the ASU Faculty Women’s Association Outstanding Faculty Mentoring Award, ASU 2017 Commission on Status of Women Outstanding Achievement and Contribution Award, and many more. She has served as associate editor for the Bulletin of Mathematical Biology, is presently on the council of the American Mathematical Society, and serves on many other national advisory boards.
TheBestSchools.org extends our hearty congratulations to Erika for her recent selection as winner of the prestigious American Association for the Advancement of Science Mentor Award for 2019!
Henry Gradillas, Ed.D.
Retired Master Educator
While Henry is best known as the principal working with Jamie Escalante, the teacher portrayed in the film Stand and Deliver, he coauthored a book of his teaching principles (Standing and Delivering: What the Movie Didn’t Tell); has served as a commissioner for the National Commission on Drug Free Schools; has been a special consultant on the staff of the State Superintendent of Public Instruction of California; has served as principal at several high schools in California and Michigan; has been a motivational speaker and consultant throughout North America; managed a working ranch; and continues in his eighties to work as a tutor, substitute teacher, and court interpreter. Henry Gradillas holds a Doctorate in Education Specializing in Secondary Curriculum from Brigham Young University.
The educator excellence prize formerly offered by TheBestSchools.org, the Escalante–Gradillas Prize for Best in Education is named in Henry’s honor.
Lisa Kaplan, M.Ed.
President and Founder
2015 Escalante–Gradillas Prize Winner
Lisa’s 30 years in education helped develop the champion spirit she brought to urban, K–8 Andrew Jackson School, part of the Philadelphia School District. Drawing from her studies at the Sorbonne in France and Philly’s own Temple University, Lisa worked in leadership positions within her district from 2001 through 2018. Her work spans the education spectrum from supervising district special ed programs to education technology and curriculum design.
Lisa founded Principal Solutions in 2018, providing training and educational consulting for academic and corporate organizations. Recent work includes collaboration with the San Diego Symphony, bringing music to area classrooms.
Mary Poplin, Ph.D.
Claremont Graduate University
An educator of educators, from kindergarten to college, Mary brings a wealth of wisdom, including insider work as a public school teacher. As the director of the Institute for Education in Transformation at Claremont, Mary has been a pioneer in the scientific assessment of the classroom effectiveness of different teaching philosophies and styles. In the early 1990s, she headed a team that studied educational practices at four public schools in southern California for a year, culminating in the influential white paper Voices from the Inside: A Report on Schooling from Inside the Classroom. A decade later, she led a groundbreaking study of 31 highly effective teachers in low-performing urban schools in LA that unlocked the secrets of effective teaching.
Patrick O’Connor, Ph.D.
College Admissions Expert
Former NACAC President
2017–18 School Counselor Ambassador Fellow with the U.S. Department of Education
Patrick J. O’Connor, Ph.D., is associate dean of college counseling at Cranbrook Kingswood School in metropolitan Detroit. A past president of the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC) and the Michigan ACAC, Patrick also teaches
Counseling in the College Selection Process as both a graduate class and a professional development program. In 2017–18, he served as the inaugural School Counselor Ambassador Fellow with the US Department of Education, keeping the Department informed of current trends and issues of interest to school counselors. O’Connor is the author of College is Yours 2.0 (Outskirts Press, 2011) and College Counseling for School Counselors (Outskirts Press, 2105). He also writes regularly for High School Counselor Week and Admissions Intelligence, with other work appearing in the Washington Post, USA Today, the Christian Science Monitor, and Diverse: Issues in Higher Education. He is on the board of directors for the Michigan College Access Network, was the co-founder and serves as co-editor of the Journal of College Access, and has recently served on the board of Common Application and the credentialing commission for the American Institute of Certified Educational Planners. A member of the Political Science Faculty at Oakland Community College, O’Connor is a recipient of the Outstanding Faculty Award from Oakland Community College, the Margaret Addis Service to NACAC Award, NACAC’s Government Relations Award, and the William Gramenz Award (for outstanding contributions to college counseling in Michigan). He holds five college degrees, including a PhD in Education Administration. O’Connor is the first member of his family to graduate from college.
Anthony Yom, M.Ed.
James A. Garfield Senior High School
2016 Escalante–Gradillas Prize Winner
Among Anthony’s many math teaching accomplishments includes a 4.96 average student score on the grueling AP Calculus test, which 100% of his students passed, including one who achieved an unheard-of perfect score. Due to these successes, he received a White House Science Fair invitation and recognition, and he was the 2016 Los Angeles Unified School District Teacher of the Year and the Harvard Club of Southern California Educator of the Year. An immigrant to the U.S., who grew up in the inner city, Anthony identified with his students and achieved these remarkable results in a school with a 91% poverty rate.
In 2016, Anthony won our Escalante–Gradillas Prize for Best in Education. Amazingly, just two years later, Anthony became assistant principal of James A. Garfield Senior High School in Los Angeles, the very school where Jaime Escalante and Henry Gradillas worked together to change the educational futures of so many students for the better. Talk about a storybook outcome!
Content Specialist & Editor
Brian earned his Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of Kentucky, where he studied the metaphysics of time and space. He also received a B.A. in music from Hanover College. He spent eight years as a philosophy and writing teacher for the University of Kentucky. After completing his Ph.D., he was an adjunct professor of philosophy at Xavier University, Morehead State University and Northern Kentucky University. In his free time, Brian enjoys playing electric guitar, drums and piano as well as hiking with his wife and dog in the Red River Gorge.
Wayne J. Downs
Vice President & Managing Editor
Wayne spent most of his formative days in the woods or in a welding shop. Then, in a pursuit for wisdom, he obtained his BS in Biblical Studies with a Minor in Psychology at Campbellsville University, an MDiv at Baylor University, an MA in Philosophy at Texas A&M, and completed PhD coursework in Philosophy at the University of Kentucky, focusing on the cognitive sciences and metaethics.
When not keeping TBS on the tracks, Wayne enjoys time with his wife and three kids, woodworking, smashing Tough Mudders and Spartan Challenges, and attempting to regrow his hair.
Dan holds a BA in Christian Education, summa cum laude, from Wheaton College in Illinois. His experience includes competitive analysis and technical marketing at Apple Inc., instructional design at Luxottica, knowledge management at Synchrony Communications, network administration at NASA Ames Research Center and Procter & Gamble, and business and academic writing/editing at Ethereal Pen Productions. He, his wife, and teenage son live on an organic fruit farm east of Cincinnati.
Marketing Manager & Editor,
Jennifer holds a BA in English and an MA in English with an emphasis on technical writing from Wright State University. Upon graduation, she ventured to Okayama, Japan, to teach conversational English to Japanese university students. Back in America, Jennifer then worked for 10 years as a project manager for an IT organization until she and her family moved to Kentucky. After homeschooling their four children for five years, Jennifer joined TBS as an editor, and now serves as marketing manager for The Quad.
Strategic Projects Manager
Travis has a BA in Communications and has spent a decade partnering with high schools, colleges, and universities to spread the word about their school and recruit more students. In addition, he has worked on websites that help people make informed decisions about degree programs and schools. From copywriting and editing, to sales and account management, to overseeing business development and operations, Travis maintains a wide set of skills. He now focuses effort on keeping TheBestSchools.org a top educational resource.
When he’s not working, Travis is joyfully consumed by his more important jobs: being a father to his three boys, a husband to his amazing wife, and a follower of Christ. One day, he thinks he may even have time for some hobbies.
Marketing & Outreach Manager
Prior to coming to TheBestSchools.org, Cliff was Special Partnerships Manager for EducationAxis. He has also worked in sales and marketing for a number of other companies. He co-founded Fontes Press, an academic and theological publishing company. Cliff has a BA in ancient Greek and Hebrew and is pursuing further graduate studies. He resides in the state of Washington with his wife and daughter, and he may be the only Pittsburgh Penguins fan in the state.
Bobby has earned both an MA in Philosophy and an MA in English from the University of Louisville. His interests are wide ranging, and he works and researches with the constant desire to expand his knowledge base and, in the spirit of Buckminster Fuller, avoid over-specialization in favor of expert generalism.
Senior Editor & Media Producer
Rich is hounded by curiosity, revels in story, and cherishes overlooked details. A lifelong technologist and photographer, Rich craves the interrupted patterns, tangential questions, and stray minutia that surprise and inspire. For over twenty years, Rich has helped several institutions publish their content online — now he’s getting personal, probing the wisdom and insights locked in individual, personal narratives. Listen, watch, or read his latest interviews here.
David A. Tomar
Chief Editor, The Quad
David is an author and journalist who has written extensively on music and education. Tomar catapulted to notoriety with his controversial and eye-opening 2010 article in The Chronicle of Higher Education titled
The Shadow Scholar. Writing under the pseudonym Ed Dante (a name now committed to perpetuity by its own Wikipedia entry), Tomar highlighted his decade-long career as an academic ghostwriter while simultaneously announcing his retirement from the business.
The Shadow Scholar became the most read article in the history of The Chronicle of Higher Education. Although student cheating is nothing new, this article underscored the extent to which student cheating had become a business, in which students paid others to do their work, sometimes for an entire course. Tomar’s revelations led to appearances on ABC World News Tonight, Nightline, and the Today Show. There he shared the ghostwriting business’s trade secrets and attempted to bring greater awareness to this hidden epidemic of student cheating.
Since then, Tomar has focused not just on exposing the broader failures in American education but also on reforming it. Through his full-length 2012 memoir, The Shadow Scholar: How I Made a Living Helping College Kids Cheat (Bloomsbury USA), his consulting work for the International Center for Academic Integrity (ICAI), and his editorial seat at TheBestSchools.org, Tomar is seeking to narrow the gap between the promise of education and its (often dismal) reality.
Tomar has written for The New York Times and is a regular contributor to The Huffington Post as well as editor-in-chief of music blog The Liner Note.
The Mission of TheBestSchools.org
We are passionate about learning as a lifetime endeavor. You might even say we’re learning geeks. Helping you achieve your educational goals is at the heart of what we do, and every testimonial of a life changed because of learning excites us and justifies our mission and vision:
As a team, we use our collected wisdom in the field of education to
- Help learners find the best schools in America,
- Raise awareness of trends, important voices, and topics in education that affect our lives every day, and
- Foster an informed, rational, and civil conversation about knowledge and learning that benefits us all.
If those goals matter to you as well, and you enjoy daily news and updates in the education field, please partner with us in our mission by connecting to us through our social media sites and subscribing to our newsletter:
How TheBestSchools.org Generates Income
The majority of our visitors come to our site because they are interested in pursuing a college degree. Schools recognize this and partner with us for referrals. We create referral forms for each of our partnered schools, so our visitors can choose a school, fill out the form, and submit their information. We make sure a visitor’s information only goes to the school(s) they selected. When the information submitted on the form meets the criteria of the partnered school selected by the visitor, the school compensates us for the referral.
Photo by DAVID ILIFF. License: CC-BY-SA 3.0