When students choose a college or university, they’re essentially choosing their future. They’re deciding which school will be on their resume and where they’ll network with future professionals. So of course, students want to attend a school that will give them the best foundation for success. For many students, that means choosing a college that has the best academic reputation.

Academic Reputation is Essential in Education

According to the American Freshman, a very good academic reputation was the most important factor influencing college decisions. The survey, conducted by the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) asked 165,743 students at 234 colleges and universities why they chose the college they’re currently attending. They were offered 23 factors, and asked to indicate which ones were “very important.” Reputation took three of the top five most important factors in college choice:

1. College has very good academic reputation (64.0 percent)

2. This college’s graduates get good jobs (53.1 percent)

3. I was offered financial assistance (48.7 percent)

4. The cost of attending this college (45.9 percent)

5. College has a good reputation for its social activities (44.1 percent)

Students want to know that their college has a good academic reputation. Additionally, graduates expect to get good jobs and they want access to a professional network of alumni. College cost is also a major concern, with students choosing schools that offer financial assistance or an affordable cost of attendance.

Why Academic Reputation is Important to Students

Academic reputation is largely subjective. Even Times Higher Education admits this much in their 2014 world reputation rankings. It’s difficult to assign a numbered score to a university’s reputation, but despite this hardship, schools are still judged on their academic reputation by students, employers, professionals, and fellow academics. Reputation has become the currency of global higher education today, says Times Higher Education.

While marketing and rumors may influence college reputation, they can’t erase the underlying truth. In fact, academic reputation is often a predictor of future university trends. A strong academic profile supports research, recruitment, business engagement, and philanthropic giving.

Colleges can hire the best professors and attract philanthropic donations as well as star students with a shining school reputation. Everyone wants to be a part of a winning team, and in education, that means investing in the best academic brand.

Connect with our team to improve your college’s online reputation.

How to Choose a School with a Strong College Reputation

Students choose colleges on reputation. It’s more important than how much it costs, location, or even course content. Is that fair? It seems so, as the college brand they choose will determine the level of academics and resources available, and will be a reflection of their own reputation for a lifetime. How exactly can students learn about a prospective college’s academic reputation? There are plenty of resources to find out.

  • Check reputational rankings. The Times Higher Education World Reputation Rankings is one of the largest and most dependable reputation measures in academia. This is largely because the survey calls on seasoned academics for recommendations of the best colleges and universities. They ask questions like, “Which university would you send your most talented graduates to for the best postgraduate supervision?” Because the rankings may change year to year, you may want to look up several consecutive lists to see trends. Here’s the 2018 ranking list.
  • Read U.S. News. U.S. News offers a comprehensive guide to the best colleges in the United States. The list includes rankings and tuition as well as admissions statistics and much more. Reputational factors also weigh heavily in the U.S. News rankings, and undergraduate academic reputation contribute 22.5% to the final scores.
  • Check student and alumni reviews. Websites like RateMyProfessors.com can shed light on what recent students and alumni really think about a college campus. However, take reviews with a grain of salt because they may be emotionally charged or based. While most students may be honest, others could base reviews on factors that have nothing to do with academic reputation and educational quality.
  • Ask professionals what they think. It’s never too early to start networking. Ask established professionals in your field of choice where they went to school. They may also be able to connect you with their colleagues who can offer some boots-on-the-ground advice about where they studied..

Reputation matters, in education and beyond. Choose your college carefully: it is likely to set the tone for your professional reputation.