College Education Pays

March 4, 2013

A recent Chronicle of Higher Education blog post references a report from the Milken Institute that indicates a “strong relationship between educational attainment and a region’s economic performance.”

Basically, this is yet more evidence that a college education “pays off,” and can even lift the incomes of others that live in the same geographic areas with significant numbers of college graduates. Not a huge surprise, really. But what prospective students really need to know is how much specific colleges and universities, and even more specifically the programs they offer, “pay off.” Sure, we know that college “in general” is a smart investment. But there are thousands of higher education institutions to choose from. Where should a person go to get the best “bang for their buck”?

There is a solution.

Until now, the only tool for colleges and universities to understand the earnings of their graduates has basically been self-reported alumni surveys. However, there is good news. The federal government has developed a process for the collection of alumni salary information from hundreds of colleges and universities, and has shared that information publically. So a prospective student who wants to get an M.B.A. in finance can know exactly what Capella graduates from that program earned on average, which for the 2010 tax year was $95,459.

That is exactly the type of data that should be made available to a prospective student of any school, not just the limited number measured so far. Regardless of what type of higher education institution you might be interested in, you deserve to know how past graduates of that school / program have fared with their degrees.

What do you think? Should all higher education institutions be sharing this sort of data? Would you want that sort of information when shopping for a school?

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