Monday, April 16, 2012

College Rankings

I have long thought that college rankings were bad. They give too much weight to matters which don't mean much to students like the number of papers professors publish and too little weight to things like 4 year graduation rates, average student debt and unemployment rates after graduating.

This ranking, summarized in this article from Businessweek seems like a step above most. Their 30 year net return on investment seems to be properly weighted to punish schools which don't actually seem to improve the financial situation of their students.

What is most shocking is how well the ivy league and other private schools do. In the long run their high tuition is more than made up for by high graduation rates and high salaries. While most public schools get crushed, the highest being Colorado School of Mines at 20th. The low graduation rates and long average times to graduation end up costing more than the tuition at a private school.

Cornell was ranked a respectable 14, adding about a million dollars on average to the income of its graduates.

Fresno State on the other hand was ranked 419, only adding about $170,000 income to its attendees, hardly paying for the time spent there. Even that puts it almost in the top third though. The worst two or three hundred schools actually decrease lifetime income for their students, never paying for the tuition and lost income from not working those years.

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