Best College Reviews was started with the explicit goal of competing with US News & World Report as an authoritative, objective and editorially independent college review journal. We have a big task in front of us to achieve that goal, and we understand that it’s a David vs. Goliath scenario. But our commitment to providing students with the best, most trust-worthy guidance for making what may be the biggest decision of their lives remains strong. And we believe that this commitment will stand on its own two feet and serve to make our brand a top competitor.
Meet the Best College Reviews Editors
Merrill Cook has worked for several years in data journalism roles including content strategy, implementation, and marketing. He’s released a course on building responsive D3 visualizations that are currently out with Packt Publishing and works on text-based, visualization-based, and interactive data journalism projects. He’s particularly interested in topics in higher education, and in helping students to make quality educational choices through data-driven research. Projects Merrill has been a part of have been published on Washington Post, Buzzfeed, i09, Mic, and many other sites.
Merrill is a graduate of Sewanee: the University of the South, and has also taken online courses from a wide variety of institution types.
Nick Plato: Born and raised in big sky country in southern Oregon, where camping in gorgeous pine tree forests are the norm and cowboys still ride in the sunset, Nick learned the value of hard work and a good education. Graduating in the top of his class as a scholar-athlete, a member of Honors Society in high school and the same at a small private liberal arts school, books, culture, music, sports and travel have been vital in his life. One of the most formative episodes in his life was backpacking around Europe for a month with his wife and experiencing history first hand. Not only has traveling, school, and sports shaped his experience, but earning a Master’s in Education and passing with distinction he learned the discipline required to succeed in graduate school. He loves all things education and has spent the last thirteen years preparing young minds for higher education.
We are dedicated to enabling aspiring students to make informed decisions on their path to academic success. We help students to recognize their individual needs, and provide them with the information they require to match themselves with an institution that will polish their skills and help them grow as professionals. Through our website, students will find:
- College rankings
- Reviews of college features
- Blog articles to inspire and educate
- Relevant and intriguing infographics
We focus our rankings on online college programs. We do this with the understanding that not all students thrive within a traditional institution, and that some may learn better under the conditions of electronic education. It is our firm belief that online programs provide a hereto unexplored avenue to success.
As the educational and online worlds are in a state of constant flux, we are always working to update our lists and publish new ones that cover dynamic, developing features in interesting and lucrative fields.
Thus far we have focused largely on programs that can be accessed online, but we will also be providing information on programs designed by “brick-and-mortar” institutions. These programs are sometimes intended to guide students through a transition phase, after which they will move from online education to attending classes within a traditional classroom.
To create our rankings, we utilize publicly available data from many sources, including:
- National Center for Education Statistics: Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS)
- National Center for Education Statistics: College Navigator
- Bureau of Labor Statistics
- American Fact Finder
There is a lot of corruption in the world of online rankings and we want to be forthright about how our business model works and how that influences, or doesn’t influence, editorial decisions. Best College Reviews has partnerships with over 400 colleges and universities and those schools pay us when a student requests information. However, these partnerships do not, and never have, influenced our rankings. We regularly get requests from schools to be added or moved up in our rankings and we always refuse. Unlike many websites, we draw a strong editorial line between our profit and our editorial standards, and our goal is to always provide editorially independent rankings based on a strong, well-defined methodology. As such, we have no partnerships with many of the schools that rank towards the top of our lists. We want students to trust our rankings first and foremost (pursuant with our goal to being a competitor with US News & World Report), and for that reason, our rankings remain editorially independent from our revenue sources.
Our Feature Reviews
Despite our interest in furthering the cause of online education, we believe that traditional institutions provide an experience that cannot be mimicked in the digital world. We strive to document the experience of living on campus as part of a social and academic community. In our reviews, students will learn of the various features different campuses have to offer.
Some of the features we cover are architectural: we discuss campuses, theaters, cathedrals, and recreation centers. Others are centered on the academic population: we take a close look at student unions, as well as institutions which have produced the most stunning research of the last decade.
Our blog is intended to be both stimulating and informative. Curating this blog gives us a chance to address any topic that we may not be able to discuss through our rankings or reviews. It also allows us to inspire students through creative approaches to educational information. Unique posts cover everything from reliable majors to mad scientists. Though the blog is mostly informative, we like to have a little fun every once in a while too.
Here, we also go into more depth on the condition of online education, ensuring that students are able to fully consider the options they have before them, and are best able to utilize the information we have gathered elsewhere on the site.
If you have any questions or suggestions, please contact us.