Thursday, August 19, 2010

Colleges Should Report Outcomes

By: Matthew Denhart and Christopher Matgouranis

The only way to judge the how worthwhile an investment, is to know the marginal benefits that result from it compared to its initial cost.

Based on these criteria, it is clear that the public is largely in the dark as to the value of a college degree. As we discuss in an article for today, colleges and universities rarely collect and publish information about the outcomes of their graduates. Perhaps this is an area where the U.S. Department of Education should step in and require alumni information be gathered and presented to the public in a clear and coherent manner. This would go lengths at providing the transparency and accountability in higher education that would benefit students and taxpayers at large.

See our full article here.


Overlook said...

Very good article gentleman. As usual, I am now going to stray from the topic in a fashion.

When I think of the tuition disparities between the elite schools and all the rest, dare I say that the majority of the elite schools are not worth the cost differential in obtaining certain degrees? For example: Mechanical Engineering. In a real sense, is a degree in mechanical engineering from MIT worth more than a degree in Mechanical Engineering degree in from Ohio University. Most people (especially MIT alumni) would say yes. In engineering, core curriculum includes such classes as calculus, physics, material properties, strength of materials, chemistry, et al.

All of the classes mentioned above cannot be much different among schools. 2+2=4 at all schools. Solving for “x” where x=2(403 – 54)-4 reveals the same correct answer at any school and everywhere else. So generally speaking, core curriculum must be the same everywhere. You cannot work political ideology and other distractions into a mathematical problem. So again, is 2+2=4 worth more at MIT than at a school like OU? I don’t think so.

MIT has a great reputation and deservedly so. And they may have better labs with the latest and greatest capital equipment. But I don’t believe the cost trade-off, or ROI is there.

In August 1983 (just after graduation) I received a call from McDonnell Douglas – it was a screening interview. The gentleman asked me, “What class did you learn the most in?” Without even thinking about it, I replied, “Strength of materials.” He then asked, “Why did you learn the most in that class?” Again, without even thinking, I replied, “Because it was the subject I knew the least about.” Apparently that was the right answer as I started my career at McDonnell Douglas on Tuesday, January 3, 1984. When I went to work, my fellow greenhorn peers came from Notre Dame, OSU, Yale, Georgia Tech, and other brand name schools. I ran circles around them and I moved up. So I believe I got my money’s worth, but I also had to prove myself, and I did. This is an extremely small population from which to draw conclusions. But it tends to reaffirm my belief that a lot of students pay for a BMW and come out a Ford Pinto. I guess what I am saying is that you are correct and my experience supports the need for disclosure.

Finally, I would like to mention that I am an alumni mentor. In the two years since I became an alumni mentor, I have not received one phone call or email – nada, zip, zero. It’s unfortunate that in this economic catastrophe, graduates are not utilizing all of their resources.

Overlook said...
This comment has been removed by the author.