Why Traditional Rankings Are Failing Veterans

Inclusion of non-traditional student success is critical to driving better veteran higher education decisions.

The Challenge

Due to a lack of sufficient data, most rankings don't actually measure whether or not a veteran will succeed at a given school, nor do they include the very schools that are most frequently serving veterans.

Non-Traditional Student Defined

What is a "non-traditional" student? A traditional student, as defined as the department of education, is a full-time first-time student fresh out of high school with no prior higher education experience or credits they have to transfer.

A "non-traditional" student is any student that is not "traditional". This includes any student who is part-time, a transfer student, an adult returning to school after a break, or someone who is not seeking a degree.

Most Veterans Are Non-Traditional Students

Most veterans, as you would likely imagine, are "non-traditional" students. Typically, due to the prior credits earned during their military service, they are at least not considered "first-time" students when they enroll in a college because of the prior college credits they have earned.

Most Rankings Ignore Veterans

Most rankings focus on traditional students because the Department of Education only collects data from colleges about the success of traditional students. Because of this lack of data, schools that focus on serving non-traditional students, many of whom are veterans, are entirely left out of rankings. And if a school is included because it does serve some traditional students, any ranking that is derived from that could based on the success or failure rate of a small percentage of their students, and not the ones most representative of veterans.

Incomplete Rankings Result In Bad Decisions

As consumers of higher education, veterans are looking to get the best education their money can buy. The federal government, and taxpayers by proxy, are trying to maximize the important investment we are making in our veterans.

Rankings are often used to identify prospective schools to satisfy both of the above goals. But most rankings out there do not properly include the schools that veterans consider. This leaves veterans without a sufficient gauge of quality for the school, and the veteran is forced to make their college decision based on marketing rather than unbiased facts.

The lack of a valid, transparent way for veterans to shop for an education is unacceptable.

A Better Way

We at College Factual are working hard to change this.

Ranking Both Traditional and Non-Traditional Schools

Some veterans are seeking a college that excels in serving adult students like them, while others, regardless of how they are classified for data collection purposes, are looking for a more traditional education. There is a healthy mix of both, and so any overall Best for Veterans ranking should do the same.

As such, our Best for Veterans Ranking now includes both types of schools. To accomplish this, our ranking incorporates the highest score between either of our overall rankings that rank the overall quality of a school.

Why the max of the scores?

There is nothing wrong with a school focusing on one type of student over the other. In fact, there are many advantages that come with such focus. Using an average of the two scores would unduly punish a school that had such focus, and so we chose instead to go with the maximum.

  • Best Colleges - Our overall college rankings built to identify the best quality colleges for serving traditional students.
  • Best Colleges for Returning Adults - Our new rankings that identify quality colleges for non-traditional students.

Incorporating both indicators of quality, when combined with the many other Best for Veteran ranking factors, ensures we are recommending great colleges for either scenario.

Go Beyond Rankings

As advanced as our rankings are, they represent only the starting point of the decision tools we have to help veterans get the best fit education their money can buy.

Maximize your benefits by finding the best matched career, college and major based on your natural strengths, interests and goals.  Our tools are FREE to veterans and you can start reviewing matches in less than 10 minutes.


More About Our Rankings