This week I was speaking to a group of parents who will soon be sending there children off to college. I had made the comment during my presentation that colleges don’t really measure their results, at least not of how well their students do after graduation. Almost all of the college rankings are based on statistics about the INCOMING students they are able to attract, and very little data is available on how many of them are actually gainfully employed as a result of their college degrees.

One of the attendees (thanks Reagan) sent me this WSJ article the next day.  It looks like the tide may be starting to turn, at least for some smaller colleges that want to become known for the product they produce.  Richard Freeland, Massachusetts Commissioner of Higher Education, said, “this (is a) huge paradox sitting at the center of higher education,” and “At most schools, we don’t really know what learning is going on.”

Some of the interesting points made in the article include:

  • Although the Obama Administration has called for more accountability of colleges, including measures of graduation rates and loan defaults by students (indicating the degree didn’t lead to much), any measure of what they actually learned would be voluntary (i.e., it won’t happen through government efforts)
  • Mr. Freeland is setting up a project of about 50 public schools across nine states where faculty from other schools will actually grade how much a student learns
  • Private, select schools are the ones with the most to lose as we collect more data, because once we collect this data, we may see that other schools are producing more qualified products at a cheaper rate

Bottom line, if you are a parent who will be sending a child to college in the coming years, you should want to know how well colleges are performing before you make the huge investment required to send a kid to school today.

To see how we help students make wise decisions about college and career, see our new video.