#1 for Whom? A New Approach to College Guidance Abandons Rankings to Put Students’ Unique Learning Styles First


Amid growing national disillusionment of college rankings, Colleges of Distinction and Abound prioritize the student experience and individual fit.

Austin, TX — Colleges of Distinction and Abound, two college guides serving traditional undergraduates and adult learners respectively, answer the call for a college search resource that adequately reflects the diversity of programs across the country. With roots going back over two decades, these resources uplift outstanding institutions with individual strengths that cannot otherwise be measured in traditional ranking methodologies. This is with the acknowledgement that there is no #1 institution for everyone, but rather many schools whose combination of offerings are perfect for different students. Factors such as the learning environment, program diversity, and hands-on opportunities altogether contribute to whether a school is the right fit for any given student.

College rankings have been under much scrutiny lately, from the 2019 ‘Varsity Blues’ scandal to Columbia University’s removal from U.S. News and World Report after failing to validate its reported data. And despite occasional changes to U.S. News’ methodology over the years, many criticize the ways in which teacher salaries, size of endowment, peer reputation, and other data not related to the student experience factor into the rankings that students use to choose a college.

“We’ve always said that there is no number-one school for everyone,” says Tyson Schritter, Chief Operating Officer of Colleges of Distinction and Abound. “Different colleges are suited for different students depending on their individual career goals and learning styles. But when organizations like U.S. News pit completely different colleges against one another, excellent institutions get buried under those who are good at playing the rankings game.”

Rejecting the older model of college rankings, Colleges of Distinction and Abound conduct a thorough vetting and interview process to choose institutions that exemplify a commitment to the student experience.

Colleges of Distinction’s criteria for traditional undergrads prioritize the student-centered High-Impact Practices as defined by AAC&U, accepting only those institutions that adhere to the Four Distinctions: Engaged Students, Great Teaching, Vibrant Community, and Successful Outcomes. Similarly, Abound’s criteria for degree-completion and graduate programs, known as the Four As, look specifically for the accommodations and learning styles necessary for adult students’ success: Affordability, Accessibility, Acceleration, and Advancement.

“We call on others to recognize the benefits of a more comprehensive, and less quantitative, method of highlighting the unique benefits of each university,” says Schritter. “For too long have the institutions doing the heavy lifting been drowned out by misleading rankings. Traditional undergrads deserve personalized attention and experiential learning, and adult students need guidance for choosing a school that is attentive to their busy lives. We’re proud of our partner institutions’ commitment to showing their students what’s possible in an engaging learning environment.”

About Colleges of Distinction
Since 2000, Colleges of Distinction has been committed to honoring schools throughout the U.S. for true excellence in higher education. The member schools within the Colleges of Distinction consortium distinguish themselves through their dedicated focus on the undergraduate experience. Its website provides dynamic college profiles, customized tools, and resources for students, parents, and high school counselors. For more information, and to learn how to become a College of Distinction, visit CollegesofDistinction.com.

About Abound
Abound focuses on colleges and universities that offer regionally accredited undergraduate and graduate degrees for adult students. We help students find the best place to earn an undergraduate degree, graduate degree, nursing degree, or MBA. The colleges in Abound’s cohorts are nationally recognized for program excellence and offer courses on campus, online, or both. For more information, and to learn how to join Abound’s cohort, visit Abound.College.

eCampus News Staff