college-scorecardA couple of weeks ago I wrote how students can find out their best college major based on personality, skill sets and passion.  In today’s newsletter I want to make sure you are aware of the report just released by the government about ‘value’ of  colleges – the College Scorecard. The findings reveal how much a particular college costs weighted how much they would potentially earn after graduation – the debt factor was also considered. The report compiled used over 1,700 variables from over 7,000 schools to come up with this very valuable information.

The College Scorecard details:

  • annual costs
  • graduation rates
  • salary after graduation
  • which schools have a higher graduation rate than 75%
  • median salary for alumni 10 years after entering
  • typical undergraduate student debt

The decision was made not to rate the colleges but NPR decided to make the effort to do so. They asked three different higher education experts to design a rating. The following is a brief summary of their conclusions:

  1. Anthony Carnavale is an economist at Georgetown University. He is also the author of a report evaluating the earnings after graduation. He believes that the most valuable perspective in which to evaluate a college is the money earned after graduation. Anthony Carnevale’s ratings include income 10 years after entry (50%), on-time graduation rates (25%) and net price (25%). He does emphasize that his assessment may not be totally fair as the biggest determinant is choice of major, not the choice of school.
  1. Amy Laitinen, the deputy director of the education policy program at the New America Foundation. believes a good ranking should focus on mobility. These are schools that excel at offering students from a lower economic status a chance at a good education experience. Her rating includes the share of students who receive Pell Grants (16%), net price for families making less than $48,000 (16%), share of students who are first-generation college students (16%), default rates (16%), on-time graduation rates (16%) and median income 10 years after entry (16%). She does think it’s important to note that these criterion may be flawed as relying on too much on graduation rates may unfairly dismiss schools that serve students who often transfer to better programs.
  1. A professor at the University of Pennsylvania, Peter Cappelli believes a good college education would enable students to complete their education as soon as possible and with as little debt as possible. His rating includes: on-time graduation rate (50%), default rate (16%), share of students receiving federal loans (16%), average income six years after entry (16%).

To sum up a ‘good’ college is defined by one’s values and what the student wants to achieve in college. For example, a ranking focused primarily on money will favor schools with more engineering majors while a ranking focused on mobility will tend to favor public universities.

These three rankings only reveal the top 50 out of over 1,800 4-year programs of which most students nationally are NOT attending as many students use geography as one of the first criteria for selection. They also do not include the institutions at the bottom of the list as they are important to look at as well.

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