What Matters Most to Students?

What Matters Most to Online Students
What matters most to students?

I started my day today by reading two articles, both posted by higher education industry colleagues on LinkedIn. The first is a marketing piece that uses IPEDS data to demonstrate the growth of online program adoption by highly ranked universities, and the other is an opinion piece that highlights the findings from Gallup’s groundbreaking research with students. The stark contrast between these two articles is worth noting.

Do higher rankings mean better results for students?

The first article, which highlights IPEDS distance education data, is an advertising essay for a marketing firm disguised as an independent resource for students. It has all the right key word terms, some interesting data, links to the key industry research pieces, and looks nice and pretty. The piece is designed around methods that boost the SEO metrics to drive the marketing firm’s organic search results up. So now we know that universities with higher US News & World Report rankings are getting in the online degree game. But, one of the underlying assumptions of this article (and of the rankings the marketing firm offers to students on its website) is that higher rankings equates with better returns on education for students.  Hmmmm…

Higher rankings do not ensure better returns for students!

The second article starts with the line, “Americans have lost track of the fundamentals of higher education.”  It raises the question, “Are we measuring all of the things that we value?”  The research conducted by Gallup shines a bright light on program features that actually do return value to students, and these things have nothing to do with university rankings. I highly recommend taking a few minutes to listen to Brandon Busteed’s keynote address found at this link. Gallup is asking students great questions, getting answers that are actionable, and challenging the education industry to do better for students.

Empowering students ensures better returns!

What really matters most to students?  Empowering them, rather than corralling them, is a good start, especially when they begin the process of shopping for a program. The Online Degree Database is truly independent, and its business model is built on student’s paying a nominal fee in return for access to the database which contains all of the available online programs in the most popular degree fields. Students find the online degree programs that meet their basic criteria using the interactive tool on the website.  This saves them weeks of searching and ensures that they are creating a short-list of programs for shopping that is from all of the available programs in the market.

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