Trends & Insights

As the higher education landscape changes, Optimal seeks to provide data-driven studies on important topics across our sites. Our studies use proprietary research and in-depth analysis.

12 Best States for a Career as a Human Resources Specialist

By Emily Sherman | Updated 4/12/2024

A career path in Human Resources can provide stability and a good salary. Wages and employment opportunity can vary by location, so our report looks at these two indicators to determine the best states for pursing a career in HR.

Nine Best States for a Career In Substance Use Counseling

By Michael McCarthy | Updated 3/21/2024

Substance use counselors are in high demand, but employment opportunities can vary by state. This report explores the best states for a career in substance abuse counseling based on wages and job growth projections.

Will Your Education Pay Off? Comparing Alumni Earnings at Top Colleges

By Emily Sherman | Updated 3/14/2024

Obtaining a college degree increases your chances of being hired and boosts your pay, but the college you choose to attend can also have a significant impact on your post-grad earnings. Explore the colleges producing the highest earners 1 and 4 years after graduation.

Embracing Inclusivity: Christian Colleges Supporting LGBT Youth

By Bailey Fletcher | Updated 3/8/2024

LGBTQ+ students who prioritize their religion or spiritual beliefs are often subjected to religious discrimination, even while pursuing a higher education online. Explore several Christian institutions that are creating safe spaces for their LGBTQ+ alumni.

Higher Earnings From Your Higher Ed: What To Study in College for Long-Term Financial Gains

By Michael McCarthy | Updated 3/1/2024

The rising costs of tuition and growth of student debt have called into question the value of a college degree. Yet, different fields of study can have drastically different results on a graduate’s financial future. Explore college degree paths that can lead to the most early-career earnings growth.

Should Distance Learners Care About College Location? Data Shows In-State Loyalty

By Holly Johnson | Updated 2/22/2024

Online college programs in the U.S. allow students to earn a degree regardless of where the school is located. Explore new data showing that most undergraduate distance learners still choose colleges based in their home state.

Exploring the Gender Pay Gap: How Does a Woman's College Major Affect Career Earnings?

By Emily Sherman | Updated 2/16/2024

Gender pay gaps have been a hot topic of conversation since before the Equal Pay Act of 1963 and they persist to this day. Explore how different college majors affect the gender pay gap and career earnings of women.

Are Online Degrees Becoming Mainstream? The Virtual Turn in Higher Learning

By Emily Sherman | Updated 1/21/2024

Online degree programs are more accepted than ever, and U.S. colleges have added over 600 online degree programs since 2017. Discover the degree categories that gained, and lost, the most online programs.

Best schools for graduating with no debt</br> (that you can actually get into)

By Taylor Nichols | Updated 11/15/2022

These 15 schools result in the lowest debt for students and have at least a 50% acceptance rate


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