Student-Centricity as a Benchmark for Success

“Elite” and “market leader” are no longer synonymous in today’s higher education marketplace. However, the ranking systems used to define the success of higher education institutions are based on outdated models that still look for prestige over performance.

The realities of today’s higher education environment don’t allow for the institution-centric approaches to management that long characterized the postsecondary space. Students are looking for a postsecondary experience that closely matches their needs and responds to their expectations. While many institutions have recognized this shift and are adapting to it, the systems we use to dictate institutional success have remained firmly stuck in the mud.

This Special Feature explores the true meaning of student-centricity and breaks down how the current design of the higher education ranking system could be doing more harm than good.


The Changing Priorities of Higher Education Institutions

Redefining Excellence and Transforming the Institution

Higher education rankings do not adequately represent the factors that identify student-centric institutions; they are based on an outdated ideal of institutions that must change to represent the needs of today’s students and today’s economy.

Filling an Obvious Gap in the Ratings System: Industry Please Help!

As it stands now, the existing ratings and ranking systems are too insular and removed from the demands of higher education’s true stakeholders: employers and prospective students. A new rating system needs to be devised that’s more closely tied to the needs of industry.


Determining the Factors that Stand Out to Students

Future Earnings Over Prestige: A New Measuring Stick for Higher Education

A ranking system that focuses on earning potential is critical as part of the college selection process but should not be the only factor taken into account.

Establishing a Student-Centric Ranking System: Eight Factors To Consider

By understanding and measuring an institution’s capacity to deliver on eight key factors, it becomes realistic to truly define an institution’s student-centricity.


The Effectiveness of College Rankings

College Ranking Systems and the Invisible Adult Student

To bring adult students from the shadows into the light, college ratings and rankings systems must evolve to measure the availability and quality of institutional features that truly make a difference for this demographic.

University Rankings: Valuable Sources for Information or Impediments to Innovation?

Though rankings provide a glimpse into the varied and expansive world of American postsecondary institutions, it’s critical to understand the basis for the rankings and to ensure that institutions are meeting critical demands in terms of serving students as well as scoring high in the charts.


Where to Draw the Line on Rankings

How College Rankings Apply (Or Don’t) For Adult Learners

While institutional rankings provide a snapshot, it’s critical that students dig deeper during their research periods to ensure the college or university they choose meets their needs and expectations.

The Good and Bad of Rankings: More Emphasis on Qualitative Review is Critical

College rankings could be improved by integrating more factors that dictate institutions’ success and responsiveness in the modern era as well as by taking into account more qualitative reviews alongside quantitative ones.


Standing Out To Today’s Students

Finding Metrics that Matter to Adult Students

Despite the influence ratings and rankings have on prospective students’ choices, they do a poor job of reflecting the true capacity for a student to succeed at a given college or university.

Outcomes Over Exclusivity: The Ideal Rankings For Today’s Students

While the most popular ranking systems look at factors that speak to institutional quality, questions around outcomes are the ones that are most important to today’s students.


The Drawbacks of Standardized Ranking Systems

On (Not) Playing the Rankings Game

A rankings system that actually helps students understand whether and how an institution is suited to meet their needs would create the level of consumer consciousness the higher education industry desperately needs while also keeping institutions honest insofar as how well they serve their students.

Traditional Ratings for a Non-Traditional Audience: Improving Relevance for the Majority

As the higher education student demographic becomes increasingly non-traditional, the systems used to rank and compare institutions must evolve to speak to the needs, expectations and priorities of this population.


The Role of Rankings in Today

Exploring Accountability for American Higher Education Institutions

Rankings and ratings, as they currently stand, are based on limited information. Institutions that can own and explain their ratings, regardless of the score, will be in a better position than those that try to ignore them.

Rankings Oversimplify the Complex World of Higher Education

Higher education rankings‚ÄĒthough influential on prospective students, external stakeholders and institutional leaders‚ÄĒprovide only a very narrow picture of the work institutions do.

College Rankings Are an Unfair (But Necessary) Evil

There are a number of significant problems with the popular approaches to institutional rankings, but for today’s savvy student-consumers they do not constitute the entire search process.


The Differentiating Power of Rankings

Rankings: Should We Care?

Rankings can be impactful but it will be rare that an institution cannot spin rankings in their favor.

Savvy Students Use an Array of Resources to Find the Right School

Today’s students work hard to make sure they are applying to and attending colleges that will help them achieve their goals. They often don’t leave their enrollment decisions up to rankings.


Rankings and Non-Traditional Learners

Significant Forces Changing the Higher Education Market: Impact of Non-Traditional Students

Though rankings reward institutions for succeeding in serving traditional-age students with traditional programs, institutions need to be innovative and forward-thinking in order to secure long-term viability and differentiation in today’s competitive marketplace.

Innovation and the Academy: Are We Recognizing Student-Centricity?

Though higher education rankings are meant to give students a sense of how successful they might be at a given institution, they’re only truly relevant for a small set of students with specific aspirations to grow in the academy.


How To Move On From Institution-Centric Rankings

Rankings Punish Innovation and Diminish Higher Ed Diversity

By understanding the limiting nature of popular ranking systems, higher education institutions can take great strides to actually fulfilling their missions and creating access and opportunities for success for traditionally underserved demographics.

Courage Needed to Reinvent College Ranking Factors

Though institutions currently sitting at the top of the rankings list have little incentive to push for rankings reinvention, this process is critical to ensuring students have access to the information they need to make informed decisions.


Defining Success in the Student-Centric Environment

We Must Find New Ways To Determine Institutional Value

As they stand today, the ranking systems provide, at best, an inaccurate view of institutional performance and at-worst serve to confuse student choice based on a limited number of highly specific factors.

Expanding the Rankings Value Set: Pushing for a Reprioritization

By expanding the value set on which rankings are based even further, it’s possible for institutions to redefine the priorities of students to focus more on outcomes and their capacity to impact some of the major issues facing the United States and the world.


Defining Student-Centricity

Student Success Measurements Must Be Centered on Student Needs

The current approach to measuring institutional performance is far from telling the whole story; the Student Achievement Measure paints a much clearer picture of the work being done by all institutions.

Eight Factors That Should Define Institutional Success in the Non-Traditional Era

Without metrics that speak to the needs of the growing (and majority) population of non-traditional students, higher education rankings‚ÄĒespecially those geared toward non-traditional areas like online education‚ÄĒwill lack in substance.


Responding to the Needs of Today’s Students

Reimagining College Rankings: What Information Do Students Truly Need?

By sharing dashboards that outline student success, institutions can play a big role in providing prospective students the contextual information they need to make informed enrollment decisions.

Going Beyond the Quick and Dirty: Crafting a Truly Representative Ratings System

A system that truly measures and encapsulates the priorities of today’s students is feasible, but must go beyond a simple, quick and dirty set of rankings.


Student-Centricity in Today’s Postsecondary Space

Top-To-Bottom Commitment to Student-Centricity Critical for Institutions Today

Student-centricity is an absolute necessity for institutions today, but accomplishing this requires new ways of thinking about learners to permeate every level of the institution.

Student-Centricity in Rankings Would Be A Catalyst for Change

A student-centric ranking system would be tremendous in leading to a positive transformation of institutional priorities, but the nature of student behavior and demand is a core challenge to such an innovation.


The Potential Impact of Student-Centric Rankings

Expanded Access Over Exclusivity: How Student-Centricity Could Transform Higher Ed

While the current ranking systems are, for the most part, tailored to show how institutions are serving students who are already on the pathway to success, the critical metrics should be expanded to create a more representative overview of the industry.

Towards CourseFax: How Putting Information in the Hands of Consumers Would Transform Higher Ed

Creating a system more focused around learning effectiveness and educational progress would put more power into the hands of consumers to make institutional choices that more closely mapped to their specific demands and expectations.


Rankings and Relevance

Introduction of Student-Centric Factors Central to Ranking Relevance

Moving toward a more student-centric institutional rating system could help remove the stigma attached to career-focused postsecondary education while providing prospective students with real consumer information that could guide their education and employment options.

Many Future Jobs Will Not Require a Bachelor‚Äôs Degree‚ÄĒWhere Does that Leave Higher Education?

The four-year degree is no longer a necessity for individuals entering today’s workforce. Institutions need to do more to ensure their offerings are in demand both by students and employers.


The Value of Rankings Outside the Four-Year Environment

Student-Centeredness and Continuing Education: An Imperative

The effectiveness of learning outcomes, one of the linchpins of student success and a definer of student centricity, is becoming increasingly reliant on the strength of an institution’s continuing education offerings.

Student Centricity and Two-Year Colleges: Focus on Students Demands Better Recognition

Two-year colleges are already laser-focused on student preparedness, experience and success but this work is not adequately captured or represented by major ranking organizations.


The Value of Rankings Outside the Four-Year Environment

Ignoring Non-Traditional Students Invalidates Most College Ratings

College ratings and rankings, especially those that focus on affordability, are providing students with important information, but overlooking the experiences and performance of non-traditional students minimizes their validity.

True Student-Centricity Requires Contextual Information

In order for institutional rankings to truly provide students the information they need to make informed decisions, they must be more student-driven and provide more program-level insights.

Open Access Over Closed Doors: Defining Institutional Success at Two-Year Colleges

By focusing on student success at every level of the institution, it becomes more feasible to hold institutions accountable to what their students are able to accomplish after graduation.


Beyond Rankings: Defining Institutional Success

No Institutional Change Without Incentive: Reinventing College Rankings

If institutions continue to be measured and ranked on their adherence to the traditional factors that helped institutions stand out a century ago, there is minimal incentive investment in change.

College Rankings: Just When You Thought It Was Safe To Go Back In The Water

The College Scorecard released by the Department of Education is a good start on the path to a student-centric institutional ranking system, but it must be further developed to truly meet the needs of today’s prospective learners.

What Are the Best Ways to Determine Which College to Attend?

Though common ratings systems attempt to give students a feel for how they might do at a given institution, no metric will ever be able to replace real interaction and understanding of a college or university.


Delivering on the Promise of Student-Centricity

Putting the Student Experience First: Student-Centricity and Excellence

By prioritizing the student experience and understanding and responding to the demands of today’s learners, institutions can craft a truly student-centric experience that helps them to stand out.

Strategic Technology and High-Touch Support Key to Student-Centricity

Leveraging technology and committing to offering high-touch services that respond to the unique needs of traditional and non-traditional students are central to creating the experience today’s learners expect and need.

Student-Centricity No Longer a Choice, But an Obligation

A commitment to student centricity means ensuring delivering a high-quality student experience both inside and outside the classroom.