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Articles / Applying to College / So-Called "No-Name" Colleges

April 1, 2015

So-Called "No-Name" Colleges

The annual anxiety about getting into a “good" or “elite" college reminds me of grocery shopping. It's all about brand names. Think of watching TV. Every day and night, we are bombarded by commercials that push “the leading brands" into our skulls full of mush. We see repeated images of massive pickup trucks showing “real" men doing tough work in the great outdoors. We see silver-bearded, worldly men drinking certain kinds of beer, which apparently makes them (the silver-bearded men) so attractive that women 30 years their junior find them enormously sexy. And so on.

The same with colleges. The Big Three Ivy League schools (Princeton, Harvard, and Yale) send out invitations to high school seniors who have literally no chance of being accepted. This is the analog to the beer commercials. Obviously, I don't believe that drinking the same beer that silver beards drink will make me look attractive to women decades younger than I am (not that my wife would appreciate it, anyway). But (and this is a big but, so to speak), legions of high school students believe that only a name-brand college will do, and this can lead to a lot of wasted time and money completing and paying for applications that are doomed to fail even before the first keystroke is made.

Back to grocery shopping, though. A case in point: Frosted Mini-Wheats. I love high-fiber cereals. I'm a big fan of oatmeal and shredded wheat. My wife shops at Walmart for our food. One day she brought home a box of Walmart's Great Value-brand “Frosted Shredded Wheat," which is the Walmart version of Kellogg's Frosted Mini-Wheats. The Great Value version is 25% cheaper, on average, than Kellogg's product. I can't tell the difference. Thus, my cereal budget has taken a great (value) leap forward for savings.


So now, let's take this no-name-brand approach to your college search. I received an interesting press release the other day entitled Education Experts' Best Ten Colleges You've Never Heard Of — Why students love these affordable choices for higher education. As I read it, I kept thinking of Walmart vs, Kellogg. There's a real core of truth to this, if you're willing to keep reading.

I'd like to share some of the information from that press release with you here. I do this in an effort to try to expand your thinking about college selection and get you to think beyond name brands. The big schools have large promotional budgets. The colleges that you'll see listed and described below have probably not sent you a shiny viewbook or bombarded your inbox with spammy invitations to apply. But (another big but), you might be able to find within this list a school that can easily meet your educational and budget requirements.

First, some background:

The high cost of college leaves students feeling overwhelmed when it comes to choosing where to go, where to stay or even questioning to transfer. For the sake of this email, forget everything you've read regarding higher education. A former university president has some advice for potential students – and it involves 10 schools you've probably never heard of …

College rankings seems to pop up everywhere you look. Former university president and educator, Joe Schmoke, believes those rankings have little value. So education experts with almost 300 years of combined experience at University Research & Review took a second look at the research. They evaluated almost 3,000 colleges and universities during 2013-2014 and came up with a list of their own. This is not another ranking list, but a refreshing look at good, reasonably priced schools whose students love them but remain not well known. They are listed in alphabetical order… not ranked.

Now, for the list. Take some time to review these schools and keep an open mind. Perhaps you'll even be motivated to click on a link or two:

Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College: Located in Tifton, Georgia

Students love the beautiful campus; this school offers a degree in, among others things, turf grass management for those aspiring to enter a career in the golf course industry; it even has its own golf course for hands-on application of classroom theory (Fun fact: Professional golfer Boo Weekley graduated from here… makes sense right?)

Amridge University: Located in Montgomery, Alabama

This school offers flexible course offerings, which are 100% online; low tuition is among Amridge's attributes; innovative online methods and tools are employed like live course lectures viewed in real-time on mobile devices

Brandman University: Located in Irvine, California

This is one of the most progressive institutions in the country; Brandman embraces competency based education, so if you know the subject matter you are not held back by outdated seat time requirements.

Brescia University: Located in Owensboro, Kentucky

This is a small school (about 1,000 students); three-quarters of the school's mostly female students are fulltime and enroll in programs such as social work, education, and business; unlike many colleges, all of its programs are in tune with the job market.

Kettering College: Located in Kettering, Ohio

If a person is searching for colleges with degree programs in a health profession and schools with reasonable costs, plus a variety of programs, a professional and committed faculty and a responsive administration – look at Kettering; its physician's assistant (master's) and RN (associate's) programs have all of these attributes.

Lincoln Memorial University: Located in Horrogate, Tennessee

If you want to become a doctor of osteopathic medicine, veterinary medicine, or maybe earn one of several master's degrees in a rural setting – this is the school for you; Lincoln Memorial is away from the maddening crowds – its academic programs, and costs, are not the least bit maddening (Fun fact: Scot Shields, Los Angeles Angels relief pitcher graduated from here).

Park University: Located in Parkville, Missouri

About half of Park's enrollees take their courses online; almost 90% are part time students and around 80% are 25 or older; one-third of its students are from foreign countries; Park prides itself on dealing with situations unique to those serving in the armed forces.

Patten University: Located in Oakland, California

Why take out student loans to pay for college? Patten doesn't think you should; it developed an inexpensive monthly payment program where a person can take all the courses they can handle.

Western Governors University: Located in Salt Lake City, Utah

Even though you might have heard of this school, it is so well liked by adult students we thought it should be included in our list; since the courses are all online, serious students don't have to worry about the annoying distractions at similarly large colleges.

William Carey University: Located in Hattiesburg, Mississippi

We were pleasantly surprised to learn about this school's unique scholarship and assistance programs available to enrollees; there are special assistance programs for low income families; students with excellent academic records may qualify for full tuition and fees plus a room allowance (Fun fact: American baseball player John Stephenson graduated from here).

This is a great-value list. I'd be curious to know your reaction to learning more about any of these schools. Please use the comments section below to bring us up to speed on your findings. Plus, in case you're motivated to venture further into the college-knowledge realm, check this out: SuperMatch.

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Be sure to check out all my college-related articles at College Confidential.

Written by

Dave Berry

Dave Berry

Dave is co-founder of College Confidential and College Karma Consulting, co-author of America's Elite Colleges: The Smart Buyer's Guide to the Ivy League and Other Top Schools, and has over 30 years of experience helping high schoolers gain admission to Ivy League and other ultra-selective schools. He is an expert in the areas application strategies, stats evaluation, college matching, student profile marketing, essays, personality and temperament assessments and web-based admissions counseling. Dave is a graduate of The Pennsylvania State University and has won national awards for his writing on higher education issues, marketing campaigns and communications programs. He brings this expertise to the discipline of college admissions and his role as a student advocate. His College Quest newspaper page won the Newspaper Association of America's Program Excellence Award, the Pennsylvania Newspaper Publisher's Association Newspapers in Education Award, the Thomson Newspapers President's Award for Marketing Excellence and the Inland Press Association-University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Mass Communications Inland Innovation Award for the Best New Page. His pioneering journalism program for teenagers, PRO-TEENS, also received national media attention. In addition, Dave won the Newspaper Association of America's Program Excellence Award for Celebrate Diversity!, a program teaching junior high school students about issues of tolerance. His College Knowledge question-and-answer columns have been published in newspapers throughout the United States. Dave loves Corvettes, classical music, computers, and miniature dachshunds. He and his wife Sharon have a daughter, son and four grandchildren.

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