Yes, We Should Tell Kids If College Will Make Them Poor

It's perfectly fair to rate colleges on their ROI, Jordan Weissmann argues

By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff

Posted Mar 31, 2014 1:10 PM CDT | Updated Mar 31, 2014 1:53 PM CDT

(Newser) – A lot of academics get awfully defensive when it comes to PayScale's annual report ranking colleges based, essentially, on how much money their grads make compared to the cost of their educations. "Saying that a mineral engineer makes twice what an artist does, and therefore this particular art school isn't worth it, that just seems absurd," psychology professor Cedar Reiner writes. Art students know school won't pay off. "They choose to pay for training anyway. Is the art school making them poorer?"

To which Jordan Weissmann at Slate has a simple reply: Yes, it really is. "There's nothing absurd about holding colleges accountable for what their students earn," he writes, especially given the widespread belief that for-profit colleges overcharge. Yes, art graduates may make less than engineers, but that doesn't excuse some art schools from being rip-offs. We do need to be careful not to over-emphasize salary, lest schools shy away from poor applicants, and President Obama has proposed more robust metrics. In the meantime we have PayScale, and "the really absurd thing … is that we still have to battle for such basic information." Click for Weissman's full column.

  (Shutterstock)
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