(Listen to it here.)
The U.S. News & World Report is understood to be the list to find out where a school stands in the hierarchy of academia. But according to the Kojo Show, these inflated and subjective statistics don’t consider the most pertinent information to prospective students. This list, which states Harvard (surprise!) as the #1 college in America, tells you one big thing about a school, and that’s its status.
In a society obsessed with labeling people, products, and places as belonging to a certain class, the SAT scores and number of National Merit Scholars who attend an educational institution might be considered important information. To those who seek to be the next rulers of the world, I guess. Yet, more practical concerns to the average student, like the amount of income they are projected to earn with a degree from a particular major at a certain school, are not included in this listing. In fact, there is currently no national survey that reports this kind of data (though the guests on the show are working on it). This lack of information leaves applicants blind as to how long it will take them to pay off their student loans. Right now, one of the biggest concerns in our country is how to reduce the debt.
I imagine most people who major in studio art or some other subject with the intent to go out in the world and do good do not make this decision based on expected income. At an idealistic young age, decisions aren’t based on the promise of profit. They are based on passion, or a childhood dream, or the desire to be a superhuman and amend the blunders of man.
However, when all these student loans are government backed, and graduates start defaulting on payments because their first job out of school makes only a few dollars more than minimum wage, it becomes a concern to tax payers. Student debt becomes inherited into overall federal debt. Thus, there needs to be a new way to categorize higher education, a way that can serve as more than evidence to validate your bragging rights for being part of some academically competitive university. There should be data that proves why and to what degree colleges should regulate inflating tuition costs. Students need to make the huge decision about what and where they want to study based on information that indicates their choice will be a sound investment.
And, as Kojo’s callers commented, college administrators should care more about the crippling financial condition in which they leave their alumni long after they toss their tassels, instead of spending all that time and money trying to recruit “top performers” to elevate their school’s appearance of prestige on the totem pole of social hierarchy.