Returns On Education: Should Schools Be Evaluated on the Financial Success of their Alumni?

In the latest US News Ranking of the Top 100 universities from a previous blog, there was actually a missing variable: the expected income of graduates. One website, Payscale.com, measures the rank of school on this metric, but what are the repercussions of valuing education strictly in terms of monetary advancement?

The New York Times critiqued this measurement, noting that Ivy League and engineering-oriented school receive more value while schools that specialize in liberal arts, humanities, and the social sciences suffer in PayScale. Ultimately, while economic security is important, the emphasis on contributions to humanity and student fulfillment is lost.

Caltech, third on Payscale’s List (Photo Source: Tobin http://www.flickr.com/photos/tobin/)

It is very possible that students who choose their universities based on their career projections will suffer the same problems as students who choose “fashionable” schools. These students will find themselves in classes they have no interest in and struggling with coursework that is outside their aptitude.

Washington & Jefferson College, a liberal arts college ranked 437 on Payscale’s list. (Photo Source: Jon Dawson http://www.flickr.com/photos/jmd41280/)

It is not just students who suffer either. A shift of enrollment towards career-geared degrees robs academia of the bright minds that perpetuate and advance enlightenment that cannot be anticipated through strictly profit-driven incentives..

Does the estimated value of PayScale’s top schools somehow make up for that loss? Can that loss even be fully quantified? Let Scholar Hero hear your thoughts!

Nathan Repp is a writer for Scholar Hero, Inc.

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