Building On-Ramps to Student Success June 27, 2017 By Carlo Salerno Read Time Strada Article Consumer Voice Navigating Education Research Research Team ... Postsecondary training is an expensive proposition without a guaranteed payoff. To make matters worse, many students find themselves in the position of making large financial investments and never completing a degree, a near worst-case scenario that often leaves individuals with lots of debt and no credential to earn the wages needed to pay back those borrowed dollars. Success requires earning the kinds of certificates and degrees employers value, which is why federal and state policy has gradually moved away from facilitating access and toward supporting completion. Much of the effort, though, has gone into making institutional accountability more robust, which really is only half the battle. Success starts with ensuring a good fit between what prospective students want and what institutions offer. How do we help prospective and current students make sensible choices that reflect their aspirations and abilities? We do it with the data, but most importantly, we do it with the right kind of data. Yes, consumers need more transparent data about college costs. But, as I shared during a panel discussion at the ASU + GSV Summit this spring, what they sorely need is much better information about the economic returns a degree can yield. Watch video Accessing the right data Many service sectors, for example, rely on consumer satisfaction feedback to help guide choices and improve offerings — just think of resources like Yelp! or Consumer Reports. While college rankings and ratings certainly are not in short supply, they often end up being measures of what methodologists think good schools should be like, rather than what actual users believe was a good or bad investment. What’s more, they don’t really distinguish between nonselective institutions or those with a more vocational bent, like the nation’s community colleges and technical schools that enroll about half of all students today. Even where there is reputable data, such as the U.S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard, it’s clear there are challenges. Look up Grand Valley State University in Michigan, for example, and you’ll find an institution where the net cost of a bachelor’s degree can run anywhere from $67,000 to almost $100,000, and former students (only those who received federal aid) earn just less than $40,000 a year a full decade after they’ve left. Is that a good deal? Are those good wages? It’s hard to tell, since we’re talking about a school that at any given time enrolls more than 20,000 students and offers more than 190 different academic programs. Consumers need program-level wage and career data. They also need to know what starting salaries look like, in addition to mid- and late-career earnings, if we’re going to reasonably expect them to properly value an investment that can potentially bear out over a 30-plus year career. What does the average worker earn in the student’s desired field? What does someone who’s in the 25th or 95th percentile earn? Is the student looking to enter a high-demand field, or one that’s already flooded with hundreds of thousands of other people who have degrees and highly valued work experience? Finding the right pathway From constructing a building, to training to become a world-class athlete, to building a rewarding, lifelong career, a good foundation matters. At the end of the day, people choose where to study, what to study, and what degree to pursue. In the absence of good data, the lifelong investment choices we expect consumers to make end up resting instead on an unstable foundation of piecemeal data, anecdotes and romanticized beliefs about career options and opportunities. Giving people the right tools to make sensible choices that meet their uniquely personal circumstances is a laudable goal. Whether it’s policymakers, pundits or the public, we should continually look for better ways to leverage data to help education consumers help themselves. Group 13 Group 11 Group 12 To create a PDF of the webpage, choose in opened window 'Save as PDF' option in 'Destination' select or something like that and click to save or print button. Got it Carlo Salerno Vice President, Data Analytics Strada Education Network Learn More Latest From Research May 17, 2023 From College to Career: Students’ Internship Expectations and Experiences A wide range of experiences prepare students for success beyond the completion of their college degree. The evidence for the value of interning on students' future careers is strong. April 5, 2023 Employer and Community College Partnerships: Models and Practices for Supporting Students and Strengthening the Workforce In an era of student enrollment declines, tight labor markets, rising college costs, and a growing lack of confidence in the value of a postsecondary education, community colleges and employers have ample reasons to partner together. April 5, 2023 Trends in Employer Partnerships with Community Colleges: Insights From Strada’s National Grant Challenge Partnerships between community colleges and employers have the opportunity to address local and regional economic needs through a range of tools, including supporting student success through resources and services, integrating work-based learning, and building career pathways. November 16, 2022 Listening to Alumni About How Education Enriches Lives A rich mixture of skills gained in college improves post-completion outcomes for graduates November 16, 2022 Alumni Survey: Learning key skills during college led to $8,700 more in earnings At a time of growing societal uncertainty about the value of higher education and declining enrollment, the views of alumni turn out to be particularly insightful. This group can provide especially valuable feedback about how their education experiences have enriched their lives, which can help us ensure that today’s students maximize all the benefits that college offers. November 16, 2022 Value Beyond the Degree: Alumni Perspectives on How College Experiences Improve Their Lives The list of benefits associated with earning a college degree is extensive and oft-repeated. It includes higher average lifetime earnings, employment security, greater self-esteem, and better health, among many others. September 21, 2022 The Great Resignation: Workers’ Experiences with Job and Education Transitions Amid all of this disruption, the number of U.S. workers leaving or changing their jobs sharply increased. Known variously as the Great Resignation, Reshuffle, or Realignment, the trend has been cast in the cultural imagination as a collective desire on the part of the American workforce for more rewarding or meaningful work. September 21, 2022 New Research on the “Great Resignation” Offers Surprisingly Good News New Study from Strada Education Network Reveals a Silver Lining at a Challenging Time July 20, 2022 Success Beyond Completion: How Can We Best Measure Student Outcomes? Over the past 80 years, our nation has made great strides in improving access to college, and then ensuring that many more students could complete a college degree. June 15, 2022 Education Expectations: Views on the Value of College and Likelihood to Enroll Spring 2022 enrollment numbers from the National Student Clearinghouse reveal a fifth straight semester of enrollment declines, with more than 1 million fewer students enrolled compared to spring 2020 March 16, 2022 The Power of Work-Based Learning Applied connections between education and work are increasingly a part of undergraduate education in the United States.