Higher education is one of the more expensive investments many people will ever make. The average cost of a year in college, including tuition, fees, room and board, now runs about $23,000 — enough to buy a new car. Graduates typically leave with $30,000 each in student loan debt.
But cost is just one thing that deserves to be considered when young people decide whether and where to go. Another is what they get for their money. That’s harder to measure, and it’s not something that can be reduced to a dollar figure.
A school that offers mediocre instruction or demands too little of students may leave them poorly equipped for the real world even though they have diplomas. Most people hope a college education will help them get a good job. But universities have a broader and deeper mission than that. Reading Shakespeare is valuable even if it doesn’t strengthen your resume.
Fortunately, someone has decided to try to figure out what people get out of college, in both tangible and intangible ways. The Gallup polling organization and Purdue University have unveiled a project to survey college grads to find out how they’re doing.