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….”
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 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.
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 her in a segment honoring Jaime Escalante, of whom she was a student at Garfield High School in East LA.
Henry Gradillas, EdD
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. He holds a Doctorate in Education Specializing in Secondary Curriculum from Brigham Young University.
The annual educator excellence prize formerly offered by TheBestSchools.org, the Escalante–Gradillas Prize for Best in Education is named in Henry's honor.
Lisa Kaplan, MEd
Andrew Jackson School
2015 Escalante–Gradillas Prize Winner
Lisa's thirty years in education helped develop the champion spirit she brings 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 has worked in leadership positions within her district since 2001. Her work spans the education spectrum from supervising district special ed programs to education technology and curriculum design. Read more about Lisa's selection as winner of our 2015 Escalante–Gradillas Prize for Best in Education.
Mary Poplin, PhD
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, PhD
College Admissions Expert
Former NACAC President
2017–18 School Counselor Ambassador Fellow with the US Department of Education
Patrick J. O’Connor, PhD, 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, MEd
Abraham Lincoln 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 US, who grew up in the inner city, Anthony identifies with his students and achieves these remarkable results in a school with a 91% poverty rate. Read more about Anthony's selection as winner of our 2016 Escalante–Gradillas Prize for Best in Education.
James A. Barham, Ph.D.
President & General Editor
A Texas native, James has called France, Greece, and Serbia home. He received his BA in Classics from the University of Texas–Austin, his MA in the History of Science from Harvard University, and his PhD in the History and Philosophy of Science from the University of Notre Dame. In addition, he was a Harvard Sheldon Traveling Fellow at the University of Athens and a Visiting Fellow of the Byzantine Institute of the Serbian Academy of Arts and Sciences in Belgrade.
Publications that have featured James's writing include Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences, Philosophia Naturalis, Rivista di Biologia/Biology Forum, and BioSystems.
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.
Beth has a BA in English Literature with a minor in Nonprofit Studies from Auburn University. She has more than five years of experience in education, teaching and developing curriculum for public schools and nonprofits in subjects ranging from college test prep to art history to animation to English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL). Beth cofounded and formerly served as an educator and executive director for Opus in Louisville, Kentucky, a nonprofit organization aimed at preparing high school students for a successful college career through a comprehensive ACT course. Beth is also a certified yoga instructor and trained birth and postpartum doula, interested in psychosomatic wellness and strengthening the body and mind. In addition to writing for TheBestSchools.org, Beth writes for Queer Kentucky and edits TRANSOM, a poetry journal.
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