New York Times, How Much Graduates Earn Drives More College Rankings:
PayScale introduced its first college salary report in 2008, and the College Scorecard from the federal government followed last year, ushering an elephant into the hallowed halls of college admissions: What do the schools’ graduates actually earn?
Despite the hand-wringing of many in academia, who saw the immeasurable richness of a college education crassly reduced to a dollar sign, the data has wrought a sea change in the way students and families evaluate prospective colleges. Earnings data are finding their way into a proliferating number of mainstream college rankings, shifting the competitive landscape of American higher education in often surprising ways.
This fall, The Wall Street Journal and Times Higher Education (a unit of TES Global, and no relation to The New York Times) introduced their first college rankings. Forty percent of their result is measures of “outcomes” — earnings, graduation rate and loan repayment rate. ...
Last year The Economist released its first college rankings, and it relies even more heavily on earnings data. It took the College Scorecard earnings data and performed a multiple regression analysis to assess how much a school’s graduates earn compared with how much they might have made had they attended another school.
The Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce has issued another set of rankings, adjusting the College Scorecard salary rankings first for choice of major (since disproportionate numbers of students studying high-paying fields like engineering and business skew the results), and yet another ranking that assesses students’ expected earnings, given their characteristics when they entered college, to the actual outcome.
PayScale itself has refined its rankings in response to criticism, by including along with salary data the percentage of students who major in subjects other than high-paying science, technology, engineering and math, as well as the percentage of respondents who found “high meaning” in their work. Both Forbes and Money magazines, in their rankings, incorporate PayScale data on earnings.
To be sure, the dowager of college rankings, U.S. News & World Report, steadfastly disdains the use of earnings or other outcomes in its rankings. While it continues to tweak its criteria, it relies primarily on measures of reputation and selectivity. ...
So how would I rank the rankings? Other than its ability to confer bragging rights, which seems a dubious distinction among already status-crazed students and parents, U.S. News seems in danger of becoming an anachronism as long as it ignores outcomes. ... No ranking is perfect, but I found that The Wall Street Journal/Times Higher Education survey did a creditable job blending a wide variety of factors, including outcomes and student engagement.