The acceptance letters are out and the college choices have been made, but how do students and parents footing the bill for a particular college know that it’s worth the cost, which can run as high as a few hundred thousand dollars?
The truth is they won’t really know the answer until their child graduates and joins the labor market. They can, however, get a good idea of how a school might impact their child’s economic future from its “value added” contribution compared to others, according to new research from the Brookings Institution.
Unlike most college rankings, the Brookings research focuses on the impact that colleges have on the economic success of alumni, eliminating as much as possible the impact of a student’s background.
“The children of Rockefellers on average will have higher earnings than the children of poor families,” says Jonathan Rothwell, a senior fellow at Brookings and co-author of the report “Beyond College Rankings: A Value-Added Approach to Assessing Two- and Four-Year Schools. “That doesn’t help in trying to decide what the college is doing and the quality of content and skills a student will learn.” One school may fare better simply because its admission standards are more selective. That selectivity, exemplified by the admissions rate, is included in other college rankings such as U.S. News.