Return on Investment (ROI) of a College Education has become a heated issue recently and the findings are both varied and complex. There is no single factor or issue that will determine the best institutional return on investment for a degree earned. As a prospective college student, how do you determine the best college or university to attend so that your return on investment makes the time and money spent worth the effort.
For years you’ve been told that getting a college degree will assure you a good job, with good pay and a better life, and for many that still holds true. But since the great recession of 2008, there are many college graduates who can not say that this long held belief that a college degree leads to a better job with high pay and a better life is true. Many college graduates are underemployed, in debt and unable to pursue the life they thought their degrees would afford them.
So how does one determine the best ROI on their college education? Well it’s not easy and requires great effort and determination. But there are factors you need to determine such as your academic performance, your choice of major, and the selectivity of the school you wish to attend. Plus many institutions of higher learning do not make it easy for you to extract the information you need to make a good decision. Such things as graduation rates, starting salaries of graduates, salaries by major are bits of data that many colleges do not supply.
However, you have also been given some new tools to assist you in making the right decision and improve your ROI. The President announced in his State of the Union address a new tool that can be used to best determine the rate of return on your college education, the College Scorecard. This website allows you to search data on individual schools and see such things as graduation rates, net price, student loan defaults, median borrowing and employment. It’s not perfect but a start.
There are also state databases that give you data elements such as recent college grads earnings organized by major. These databases were initially introduced in 2012 by College Measures, a partnership of the American Institutes of Research and Matrix Knowledge, a consulting firm. Five states are currently partnered with more expected to join. It’s not perfect, but a start in the right direction.
The Chronicle of Higher Education has created a site called the College Reality Check. This allows users to search for institutions on the basis of selectivity, location, net price and graduation rates. One can also select from five income ranges to determine what the school might actually cost them.
I also suggest you read the blog post from the EDUCATIONSECTOR that discusses ROI on college investment at the following location:
Remember, it pays to be an educated consumer of education!