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ROI of Liberal Arts Colleges

The researchers at Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce recently released a report, the ROI of Liberal Arts Colleges. Anthony Carnevale, Ban Cheah, and Martin Van Der Werf used the findings from their broader study, A First Try at ROI: Ranking 4,500 Colleges, to create a report focused specifically on liberal arts colleges. Since I previously wrote about the methodology behind the latter report, I will only reiterate those thoughts I deem relevant to the new one.

The Job Skills Students Need That Colleges Don’t Teach

In a recent article published by the James G. Martin Center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chloe Anagnos writes about the difficulties students have finding their dream job after graduation because they don’t understand the job market or they think they have all the skills needed to be an attractive candidate. Anagnos recommends that students learn how to market themselves in order to stand out in their field. It’s sound advice, but perhaps a bit more complicated than just marketing yourself.

Google vs. Harvard?

Brandon Busteed, president of University Partners at Kaplan and former director of education & workforce development at Gallup, recently wrote an article for Forbes, “Americans Rank A Google Internship Over A Harvard Degree.” He notes that when 2,000 Americans were asked what would be most helpful for a high school graduate to launch a career, a Google internship or Harvard degree, nearly two-thirds of the respondents selected Google. The December 2019 Kaplan survey was conducted by QuestResearch Group.

New Year’s Announcement: Free Tuition For Four Years – With a Catch

Among my newsfeeds over the holidays was one from the Lexington, KY Herald Leader about an announcement from Georgetown College in Georgetown, KY about a new four-year, tuition-free scholarship for local graduating high school students. The offer applies to students admitted over the next decade and requires they live on campus all four years and pay for room and board, approximating $12,000 annually.

Some College and No Degree

“Over the past 20 years, more than 31 million students have enrolled in college and left without receiving a degree or certificate” is the headline for a recent Strada, Gallup and Lumina Study report. Another recent National Student Clearinghouse report provided an overview of this population by state, noting that a nuanced review of the data is required before making conclusions and recommendations. The researchers pulled Strada-Gallup survey data from more than 42,000 individuals who did not complete college to complement the Clearinghouse study and shared the following key findings.

Expanding Pathways to College Enrollment and Degree Attainment

Last week, non-profit research firm ITHAKA S+R released an issue brief, discussing the policies and reforms necessary for states to increase access to higher education and degree attainment. The authors write that the U.S. has a projected shortage of five million workers with appropriate postsecondary education credentials by 2020, noting that most undergraduate students today are nontraditional.

Dawn of the Dead

Matt Schifrin and Carter Coudriet of Forbes wrote an article about the financial ratings of private colleges, Dawn of the Dead: For Hundreds of the Nation’s Private Colleges, It’s Merge or Perish. The authors refer to Forbes’ analysis of the finances of 933 private, not-for-profit colleges with 500+ enrollments, stating that the majority of these institutions are in a precarious situation with their high tuition, tuition-dependent financial model, declining overall enrollments, and competitive landscape in higher education.

Which College Graduates Make the Most?

On November 20, 2019, the Department of Education released its long-awaited update to the College Scorecard, revealing median debt, earnings and other data for graduates of specific programs of the represented schools. The Wall Street Journal was given an exclusive look at the data before publication, and provides some comparisons of the data among schools and a handy tool for sorting the dataset by school, degree level and degree type to show the median debt for graduates and median income level the first year after graduating. 

Reviewing the Methodology Behind New ROI Rankings for 4,500 Colleges

 

I am no fan of the Department of Education’s College Scorecard, primarily because it is incomplete and may be misleading for some metrics. Much of the data is derived from students using Federal Student Aid (FSA) only and some of it is from those who are first-time, full-time students using FSA loans. At APUS, most of our students are part-time, working adults not using FSA to fund their education. I first wrote about the Scorecard in 2016 and reported about others like me who criticized its incomplete data.

Despite the flaws of the Scorecard, I understand why Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce recently attempted to create a return on investment (ROI) for all colleges using this data. First, it’s the only published source that uses IRS data to match earnings with students who have attended those specific institutions and who received FSA. With access to earnings, institutional costs and debt incurred, the researchers can calculate a rudimentary ROI.