Bellevue College Wins Aspen Prize, Ranks #13 Online College by Newsweek

Dayna Verlinsky // The Watchdog

On Oct. 31, the Aspen Institute, a “global nonprofit organization committed to realizing a free, just, and equitable society,” announced a list of 150 schools eligible to apply for the biennial Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence. Among those schools selected was Bellevue College, which was recognized collectively for its achievement in six categories of evaluation as defined by the Institute. Those categories are teaching and learning; certificate and degree completion; transfer and bachelor’s attainment; workforce success; access; and equity for students of color and students from low-income. 

Bellevue College, with its 59.8% first-year retention rate among all students, 2.2% increase in attainment of performance variables, 81.8% awarding of associate degrees as a percentage of all awards, and 42.1% three-year graduation rate among students of color hit key statistical benchmarks that allowed it to advance from an initial pool of 976 schools.

In light of this news highlighting the academic achievement of Bellevue College, the school was also recently ranked 13th in the country in terms of top online colleges and learning providers for 2024, just behind Ivy League Schools such as Yale and Harvard and ahead of Columbia. This ranking represents a dramatic shift from last year, as a look into last year’s rankings (done by the same publication) reveals that Bellevue College wasn’t even ranked. While online rankings are not the end-all be-all for determining institutional achievement, and the methodology of determining the top online schools (combining survey results with a rating system) is mostly unknown, it’s clear that Bellevue College is making positive progress towards providing online learning opportunities for its students.

Taken together, these recent evaluations of Bellevue College reveal an image of a school that is living up to its professed mission of “providing high-quality, flexible, accessible educational programs” and is being recognized for it.