Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Rankings Revisited

By Richard Vedder

INSIDE HIGHER ED mentions a study this morning appearing in a political science journal arguing that in Ph.D. programs in that discipline, some schools have a much better reputation placing students at top schools than their reputation in conventional rankings would suggest, while others do worse. It is suggested this is a topic that has applicability beyond political science.

I agree. Indeed, why not a rankings system for undergraduate education based solely on the career success of recent graduates? Why not induce schools to report the average earnings of graduates for five years after graduation? Why not ease legal restrictions to allow or compel Social Security or the IRS to give average, median and quartile income data on graduates, provided by those government agencies (the schools give the social security numbers of graduates by year, and the IRS/Social Security provides earnings data). For most persons, the "bottom line" of higher education is a good job, and for most everybody a good job is a well paying one. If I am spending a lot of money to go to school, I want a good return on my investment, and earnings data would be extremely useful in measuring the potential investment return (along with other information, such as the percent of students graduating within four years).

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