What makes a school “notable”? Notable schools and degree programs deserve your attention because they offer a solid, high-quality education. They combine practical training, sound accreditation, competitive pricing, good return on investment, and more. Notable schools and degree programs need to be on your radar as you decide where to invest your educational time and dollar.
At TheBestSchools.org, we like to rank schools and degree programs (see our rankings page as well as our general approach to rankings). Such rankings, however, tend to play off school against school---who's first, who's second, etc. We believe rankings have their place and provide useful information about schools for our visitors. But we also want to draw your attention to schools that provide a first-rate education regardless of how they compare to others. To be sure, many of our notable schools also appear in our other ranking articles. But some do not.
Our main commitment at TheBestSchools.org is to find the best school for you. The best school for you, however, need not be one that ranks ahead of another. School A might rank ahead of school B, but school B may still be better for you. Malcolm Gladwell, in his book David and Goliath, documents how students, by trying to get into the highest ranked school, often end up hurting themselves, going to a place where they cannot excel.
The best school for you is one where you thrive, where you develop your knowledge and skills, but where you also develop confidence in yourself and your abilities, where you are one of the better students rather than constantly playing catch-up, where at the end of the day you feel good about yourself and what you've accomplished.
Unfortunately, too many students end up at schools that play to their weaknesses rather than their strengths. It's easy to end up at a schools where you feel out of place. You need to be at a school that's a good fit for you. Our notable schools and degree programs help you to find that right fit.
Names matter but ...
Notable schools may be high profile, but they may also be less familiar. Names and reputations of schools matter, just as they do for individuals. However, nationally or globally known individuals need not be “better” than people known mainly in smaller communities. Similarly, colleges and universities exist that are not so widely known, but are nevertheless solid schools. Such schools offer training and degrees that will help you get where you want to go in life.
When it comes to advancing your career, how the public regards a school, especially when it comes to prestige or name-recognition, often differs from how employers regards it. Employers may be more interested in your past job experiences, the actual skills you possess, and how your degree helped you to obtain those skills. The names of the schools we've attended often carry less weight than we might think.
Employers know that good employees come from a variety of institutions, and that school names do not directly affect how well a newly hired individual will perform. This isn't to say that some employers won't pay undue attention of a school's name; it simply means that name recognition and the employer-hiree psychological dynamics are not as simple as one might expect.
For such reasons, at TheBestSchools.org, we find it helpful to look at names, but also past names. Thus we think it important to list colleges and universities that have gained the respect of the people who matter most: the students and the people who work with them after they graduate. Notable schools deserve your consideration because they are solid institutions that may well be best for you.
Accreditation matters no buts ...
Notable schools are legitimately accredited. A college or university's accreditation is a fundamental indicator of the institution's academic integrity. Accreditation is not a sufficient condition to ensure academic integrity, but it is arguably a necessary one.
Accreditation means that external, expert organizations have evaluated the school's faculty, students, resources, curriculum, competency, credibility, and more---accreditation is academia's quality assurance system.
Unfortunately, some schools have substandard accreditation granted from organizations that are not recognized by the USDE (United States Department of Education) or CHEA (Council for Higher Education Accreditation). The USDE and CHEA are the two most important validators of accrediting agencies in the U.S.
USDE recognition is the best thing that can happen to an accreditation agency. CHEA recognition is also highly sought after but optional (almost all USDE recognized agencies are also CHEA recognized). Schools accredited through non-USDE-recognized agencies are not eligible to provide federal student funding, and are often viewed as illegitimate in the academic community, meaning that credits from inappropriately accredited schools may not transfer.
Notable schools are regionally accredited. Regional accreditation is the highest form of academic accreditation. Here is a list of USDE and CHEA recognized regional accreditation agencies:
|Regional Accreditors||USDE- recognized||CHEA- recognized|
|Middle States Commission of Higher Education (MSCHE)||Yes||Yes|
|New England Association of Schools and Colleges, Commission on Institutions of Higher Education (NEASC-CIHE)||Yes||Yes|
|The Higher Learning Commission (HLC)||Yes||Yes|
|Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU)||Yes||Opted out.|
|Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACS)||Yes||Yes|
|The Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges, Western Association of Schools and Colleges (ACCJC)||Yes||Yes|
|WASC Senior College and University Commission||Yes||Yes|
For more about accreditation, click here.
Money matters always ...
For most of us, price tags influence the schools and degree programs we consider. Of course, money isn't the only thing to consider, but in the real world, it is simply unwise not to weigh the return on investment when it comes to your education.
Notable schools are competitively priced, with special attention to affordability and return on investment. There is no direct correlation between an academic institution's tuition price and a graduate's future success. Use our College and University Cost Index to compare the tuition price of a listed school against the tuition range of public, private non-profit, and private for-profit universities, as well as the national averages. Interestingly, our cost index shows that online schools are no more expensive than traditional brick-and-mortar schools.
In summary, notable schools and degree programs are presented here because they may well be the best means for pursuing your education and because, otherwise, you might never hear of them. Our team at TheBestSchools.org has extensive experience in academia. We understand what you need to know to be a wise educational consumer. Moreover, we are an independent organization. Hence, the marketing power, reputation, prestige, or glitz of a school fails to impress us unless there's something behind it. We are committed to providing you with strong, defensible, and dependable information to advance your education. A key way we do this is through our articles on notable degree programs.