Career College Rankings
In the US, a whole industry has arisen focused on the ranking of universities and colleges. The majority of these rankings are focused on bachelor's and master's degree programs at universities and 4-year colleges. This doesn't mean there are no rankings to consult for career colleges, though! The Imagine America Foundation publishes its annual Student's Guide and the Imagine America's Guide to Career Colleges, plus some program-specific professional associations (such as the Association of Schools of Allied Health Professions) have reports from surveys about various schools and programs, which provide a kind of ranking. Such associations may also offer awards and honors for teaching excellence, and looking at who they have honored can also be used to supplement your 'ranking' of schools. Career colleges and programs may also ranked by industry-specific publications (for example, in the case of travel and tourism, the Journal of Hospitality and Tourism Education), so it may be helpful to do a library and Internet search. There are also less "official" rankings like the student-based StudentsReview that can give you another perspective, and non-academic rankings of universities and colleges--such as 'top 50' lists for best 'green' or wireless schools, best minority access, most promising or innovative, etc.--are also out there for you to consult and interpret
Each of these sources, however, uses its own particular set of criteria for evaluating schools and programs. In the case of the controversial Gourman Report (which ranks all undergraduate programs), the author specifically refuses to disclose his methodology. How then should all these rankings be interpreted?
First, the ranking reports often come with data to support conclusions, and while data collection may be criticized, statistics are generally comparable. So the reports can be used by you to compare institutions and schools on the basis of the data provided.
Second, the statistics that come from the rankings can also suggest topics that can be investigated in more detail. For instance, if a school offers co-op or industry internships but has only a few listings of frequent employers for graduates, you may want to ask why.
All career college and program rankings have one other thing in common: they are a list of institutions and schools. Scanning the list might suggest a school that you had not considered or perhaps even heard of. Used this way, the rankings can help expand your list of career colleges that can then be researched in more detail.
However, you should never judge based on rankings alone: they are important, but there are other factors that need to be taken into consideration. Colleges that are less prominent may have a program that suits your needs better than any that are talked about in the media. Lesser known colleges can also be a good choice if you wish to remain close to home during your studies. Often times, these schools have the strongest relationships with local industries and employers. Once you have accumulated this information, you can create your own career college rankings.
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