@Lisa, I don't think I did, and certainly am not now, trying to tell you what is best for you. I see most of what I've said to be offering the harder-to-find, less advertised information about substantially similar or better (from my perspective) programs at a lower cost.
When I posted my 'recommendation' to you a while back, it was based on your precise and stated goals for your education. Further, I had not yet read your post about having made your decision and enrolling at Northeastern. I am glad you are happy with it, and I do not criticize their program or your choice to enroll in it one way or another.
I do, however, believe that for many looking at online education money is a very big factor, and the for-profits are excellent advertisers, so offering options from well-reputed schools is perhaps a bit of a mission for me right now.
@Julie, Absolutely! Other big factors are the student experience, quality of education (pragmatic value of the skill-set, etc.), learning style (pedagogical preferences), proximity, support, job placement abilities of the institution and community preferences (diversity, network, alumni involvement, etc.)
Other students' experiences provide a good read of what your experience might be, and that is a big advantage to the for-profits. The communities of online learners in the schools I've referred to are certainly smaller and more varied, and thus more difficult to find.
Outside that experience, I believe that a school's reputation is largely based on the quality of its educational offerings, and while no measure is perfect, I think that it is one of the most reliable indicators of whether you will be provided the best possible opportunity to get a solid, well-grounded and practical education that will translate effectively into the workplace, whatever that may be. And as I said above, cost is a factor for many of us.
So again, they are not the only factors in choosing education, but they are the two biggest ones that I can use to assess ANY school while trying to avoid the influence of big money advertising campaigns.