Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Is College Worth the Investment??

Will College Pay Off? is the title of a recent book by Wharton Business School Professor Peter Cappelli on college costs, graduation rates, and job placement.  As college tuition costs continue to significantly outpace inflation year after year, this question has become a hot topic.  The answer is complex and difficult to assess.  Skimming through the book, I encountered troubling statistics about U.S. college graduation rates—currently at about 60%--and the fact that Americans lead the world in spending for college degrees. 

Historically and continuing today, college graduates earn more on average than those without a college degree, but according to some studies, that gap is narrowing.   Many critics and parents ask: is the ROI—Return on Investment—worth it?

(For more discussion of the trends in college costs and job placement, see this week’s New Yorker’s discussion of Cappelli’s analysis in “College Calculus: What’s the Real Value of Higher Education?” September 7, 2015 issue. )

Although I don’t believe it’s possible to assign a monetary value on a college degree, I understand many families who are reluctant to pay such a high cost for their daughter’s or son’s undergraduate degree.

Aside from evaluating a college or universities career services and internship possibilities, how can applicants determine whether or not attending a particular school will help them establish a viable career afterwards?

Here are some databases you might use to infer the ROI and job placement of schools on your son’s or daughter’s college list:

--Collegerealitycheck.com: compares average net price and graduation rates of up to 5 colleges at a time.

--PayScale.com: ranks colleges that graduate highest earners--but this is skewed toward institutions
that only offer technical degrees, which brings up their ratings considerably.

--TheWhite House College Affordability and Transparency Center College Scorecard: gives college costs, graduation rate, median borrowing, and employment information for some colleges.

--PrincetonReview.com: after searching for a particular college, check under the career tab to see the school's graduation rates, ROI and and ROE (Return on Education) rating by the Review.  These are certainly not exact figures but might give you a basis for comparison among different schools.