This week’s episode of The Key explores the wisdom of defining and measuring the value of a postsecondary education mostly by how much a college’s graduates earn and if they become economically mobile and develop long-term wealth.

Most Americans say they pursue a degree or other credential after high school to improve their job or career prospects. So many efforts to judge the value of a college credential have focused exclusively on graduates’ income. A new report from the Postsecondary Value Commission expands that definition, considering other, longer-term economic measures (such as economic mobility and wealth) and recognizing the noneconomic benefits that accrue to individuals and society when people get more postsecondary education.

But ultimately, the report from the commission recommends that institutions and programs be judged primarily by economic outcomes -- and analysts are divided on that approach.

In this episode of The Key, which is sponsored by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the American Enterprise Institute’s Beth Akers argues that it’s logical to focus on economic measures given that postsecondary education in the United States is increasingly funded by individuals. Meanwhile, Claude Pressnell Jr., president of the Tennessee Independent Colleges and Universities Association, says that overdependence on income and other career outcomes in judging institutions’ success minimizes colleges’ role in preparing graduates to be productive members of our society. Pressnell also notes that like many such studies, the value commission’s report largely ignores independent nonprofit colleges and universities, which make up nearly 40 percent of American colleges and educate about one in five U.S. undergraduates.

Hosted by Inside Higher Ed co-founder and editor Doug Lederman.

This episode is sponsored by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which works to ensure that every American can learn, grow and get ahead, regardless of race, gender, ethnicity or family income. Learn more at https://usprogram.gatesfoundation.org/.

Episode Transcript

More Episodes

This week’s episode explores a new plan to remake, rather than tweak, the complex web of policies and pathways by which learners move between colleges.

In this week’s episode of The Key, we assess how colleges are likely to gauge the extent of – and respond to – the learning deficits that students may enter with this fall.

In this week’s episode of The Key, three experts assess whether students are likely to yearn for continued flexibility in how they learn, and the pressures that might put on colleges and instructors alike.

In this week’s episode of The Key, Mays Imad offers advice for how educators can engage in the “pedagogy of healing” this fall.

This week’s episode of The Key podcast features an interview with Ronald A. Crutcher, president of the University of Richmond and author of I Had No Idea You Were Black: Navigating Race on the Road to Leadership.

This week’s episode of The Key podcast examines an effort to better capture and describe the range of knowledge, skills and experience that learners gain during their time in college.

This week’s episode of The Key explores one university’s plan to shrink its physical footprint and how college leaders are thinking about the role of their campuses going forward.

This week’s episode of The Key assesses whether governments should be defining and measuring whether academic institutions and programs are giving graduates (and the governments themselves) a return on their investment.  

This week’s episode of The Key examines a major report that proposes a new definition of how to judge whether colleges and programs are providing a good return on investment to their students –- with a particular focus on whether they’re ensuring equity.

This week’s episode explores the potential benefits-- and the potential pitfalls -- of changing the main federal student grant program to cover enrollment in short-term training programs.

Pages

Topics

Back to Top