Wednesday, August 20, 2014
Inside Higher Ed, The New Rankings?:
LinkedIn is one of several players in a growing market: the business of aggregating data about career outcomes for prospective college students. Rankings still dominate conversations about which colleges are best, to the chagrin of many college presidents. But a number of companies are developing data-backed search tools to help students decide where to apply, where to attend and what to study.
Students and parents are the consumers most of these companies have in mind. But the services also attract business from colleges and universities that the aggregated data depicts favorably. Tulane now features its LinkedIn page in its promotional materials. ...
College Measures, another data tool, measures college performance by drawing on student retention data, money spent per student and other metric. The site also works with six states to measure the economic success of graduates. And PayScale collects data from employers to develop a list of which majors pay most.
These websites may offer a wider and more evidence-based glimpse at higher education than many of the popular college rankings. Yet as with every new assessment system, there are winners and losers. "The risk with LinkedIn is that it definitely has a strong business focus,” O’Brien said. “So I think schools that send a lot of students into business or into technical fields … have potential to be winners.” Despite LinkedIn’s penetration of the professional market, some professions – elementary school teachers, social workers – tend to enter the site in smaller numbers.
And while LinkedIn’s feature shows liberal arts majors get jobs, some college-prep experts worry that the focus on job-getting might concede a larger battle about higher education’s purpose. Patrick O’Connor, a former president of the National Association for College Admission Counseling, said that while “there’s more to college than just a job,” in light of parental anxieties about college costs tools like LinkedIn’s application “could be the best way to get students in the door.”