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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Preparing For Progress: Digitally Advanced Schools

In 2008, PCMag.com produced an article that found and rated the top 20 “wired” universities in the United States. While slightly dated, it provides an interesting look into which schools had the technological foresight prepare for our current Age of Progress. To determine the overall strength of each school, PCMag.com and The Princeton Review looked at four digital categories:

  • Academics

    • This encompasses the school’s ability to provide courses that specialized in emerging technologies as well as the accessibility of online lectures.

  • Student Resources

    • What digital services do colleges provide? Do they offer their students an e-mail address and access to the school’s network? Do they offer their students software, such as anti-virus? What about hardware?

  • Infrastructure

    • This looks at the ability of the students to access digital resources. This includes wi-fi coverage and the availability of modern computers labs.

  • Tech Support

    • How easy is it for students to get help? Is there online support available, or has the school merely settled for an online FAQ?

With these factors in mind, here are the five schools with the greatest foresight (you might be surprised by the list):

(Photo Source: ilovebutter http://www.flickr.com/photos/jdickert/)

(Photo Source: ilovebutter http://www.flickr.com/photos/jdickert/)

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

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(Photo Source: Russell Feldhausen http://www.flickr.com/photos/russfeld/)

Kansas State University

(Photo Source: Edgar Zuniga Jr. http://www.flickr.com/photos/edgarzuniga/)

(Photo Source: Edgar Zuniga Jr. http://www.flickr.com/photos/edgarzuniga/)

University of Utah

(Photo Source: IK's World Trip http://www.flickr.com/photos/ikkoskinen/)

(Photo Source: IK’s World Trip http://www.flickr.com/photos/ikkoskinen/)

Bentley College

(Photo Source: The Marmot http://www.flickr.com/photos/themarmot/)

(Photo Source: The Marmot http://www.flickr.com/photos/themarmot/)

Pomona College

What colleges do you think should be in the top five? Sound off!

Source: http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2329359,00.asp

Nathan Repp is a writer for Scholar Hero, Inc.