College Calculus: What’s the real value of higher education?

Source: John Cassidy, New Yorker, September 7, 2015

….No idea has had more influence on education policy than the notion that colleges teach their students specific, marketable skills, which they can use to get a good job. Economists refer to this as the “human capital” theory of education, and for the past twenty or thirty years it has gone largely unchallenged. If you’ve completed a two-year associate’s degree, you’ve got more “human capital” than a high-school graduate. And if you’ve completed a four-year bachelor’s degree you’ve got more “human capital” than someone who attended a community college. Once you enter the labor market, the theory says, you will be rewarded with a better job, brighter career prospects, and higher wages. There’s no doubt that college graduates earn more money, on average, than people who don’t have a degree. And for many years the so-called “college wage premium” grew…. During the past decade or so, however, a number of things have happened that don’t easily mesh with that theory. If college graduates remain in short supply, their wages should still be rising. But they aren’t. …. Many students and their families extend themselves to pay for a college education out of fear of falling into the low-wage economy. That’s perfectly understandable. But how sound an investment is it? ….

We Are Living in the Era of Job Gentrification
Source: Brentin Mock, Citylab, September 3, 2015

Employers increasingly want Ivy League grads for minor-league jobs.

More education still means more pay in 2014
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, The Economics Daily, September 2, 2015

Better Information for Better College Choice & Institutional Performance
Source: U.S. Department of Education, September 2015

…..This paper describes the measurements included in the updated College Scorecard and explores how the data can be combined to measure the tradeoffs that exist among outcomes and costs of different institutions of higher education. It accompanies a technical paper that describes the data, and explores
their use and limitations in greater detail. ….