The Four Distinctions

What makes a school great?

With thousands of options to choose from, how can you tell which school is good and, importantly, which school is right for you?
At Colleges of Distinction, we hand-pick and individually review all of our schools to see how they help students learn, grow, and succeed. We believe that a thorough selection process requires so much more than an overview of institutional data and statistics. After all, college is such a formative part of a young adult’s life; the everyday experience is too subjective to be measured, so we determine quality by the way a school supports students in all aspects of their lives. 

We have found that true greatness can be categorized into what we call the “Four Distinctions.” These Distinctions—Engaged Students, Great Teaching, Vibrant Communities, and Successful Outcomes—take into consideration how a school provides the best possible experience both inside and outside the classroom. 

College is not just a degree. It’s four pivotal years of one’s development. To find which schools are ready to support your academic, professional, and personal goals, look at the way they practice the Four Distinctions.

Colleges of Distinction: Engaged Students

What are “engaged students?”

The Colleges of Distinction provide opportunities that encourage students to make the most of their education. You won’t find endless memorization, boring lecture halls, and constant standardized testing here.

Instead, students talk. Write. Think. Debate. Explore the world through study abroad. Test-drive careers with internships. Work on community service projects. Design their own research.

In short, they have every opportunity to take an active part in their learning.


Colleges of Distinction: Great Teaching

What is “great teaching?”

It’s getting to really know students and knowing them by name. It’s working to engage everyone to the fullest. It’s developing new and exciting academic programs, learning centers, and other cutting-edge educational opportunities.

These colleges encourage an atmosphere of exciting thought and action, led by professors who care about helping students learn to think for themselves. At the Colleges of Distinction, academic innovation goes hand-in-hand with personalized learning.

Colleges of Distinction: Vibrant Communities

What are “vibrant communities”?

Most of these schools are highly residential; encouraging students to live on or near campus so that they can take advantage of all the school has to offer. That means great social opportunities and the chance to make good friends, the kind you can really bond with.

Speakers, seminars, unique films and artistic events — you name it, these schools have it. Every one is different — everyone has a unique focus. But everyone has a lot to offer.

College is about more than classes and books. At no other time in your life will you have so many chances to explore new experiences, to live and grow. Finding a school that offers a real campus experience is part of finding the right fit for you. Employers and graduate schools look for graduates who are used to handling many different activities and responsibilities. Students are more than a transcript—these schools give you a chance to find out how much more.


Colleges of Distinction: Successful Outcomes

What are “successful outcomes?”

But success is more than just getting a job. The alumni of these schools are also good citizens and responsible family members. They take away from their college years a sense of something bigger than themselves—something that makes them “successful” in every sense of the word.

Many of today’s jobs didn’t even exist ten years ago. Who knows what the next ten years will bring?

These graduates are prepared for anything. They are superior writers, speakers, and thinkers—because their professors have encouraged and challenged them one-on-one. They’ve had experience—through internships and advanced research. They know how to work together with diverse people—because they have been active on campus, traveled abroad, and pursued service at home.

They’re perfectly equipped to find better solutions in the workplace, and in the world.