Colorado Launches New Tool to Help Students Measure College Return on Investment

Posted By Eliana Osborn on June 22, 2016 at 9:09 am
Colorado Launches New Tool to Help Students Measure College Return on Investment

Before you decide where to make an investment of your time and money to earn a degree at a particular college, you need to know you’ll get something back for it. While knowledge and a broader perspective have their place, of course, being able to find a good job after graduation is critical.

Colleges must report employment data for graduates to the U.S. Department of Education and their accrediting agency as part of receiving federal student aid funds. Comparing wages from school to school has technically been possible—but quite difficult. But that could be changing: Colorado just launched a tool to streamline the process of evaluating your investment in that state’s colleges.

Launch My Career is the first state site allowing students to get a realistic view of their earning potential for different majors at different schools. Inside Higher Ed reports on the numerous features available with LMC, noting that it includes information on expected compensation, comparisons of the investment need to earn a credential in the selected field, the demand for jobs in a particular major statewide and in selected cities and whether others who have completed the same college program are satisfied with their employment – based on data from Gallup.

Recognizing that people have different ideas of success, Launch My Career also features a lifestyle goal calculator, which how long in years it would take for compensation in his or her particular job to meet a user’s lifestyle goals.

LMC answers the questions students ask advisors in high school and college—questions that have been hard to answer accurately. A recent GoodCall report delves into the actual cost of a bachelor’s degree. Additional data provided specifically for Colorado has real life value in choosing a field of study based on the local economy. While not all students stay in the state where they attend college, a majority do, which makes Launch My Career widely valuable.

Return on investment (ROI) is the focus of much higher education discussion. While skeptics see the focus on numbers as crass and defeating the purpose of liberal arts study, most others acknowledge how much choice is available to today’s college students. Understanding the financial implications of those decisions should be part of the process.

USA Funds pledged $3.5 million to work on tools like LMC to give students better information about ROI. Only one state received money for the project, Indiana, which has not yet released a measurement website. Princeton Review’s rankings of schools takes many factors into account, but the Top 10 are extremely expensive. Graduates may get good, high paying jobs easily once they finish, but the investment required is quite high.

Eliana Osborn
Eliana Osborn is an associate English professor at Arizona Western College, with degrees from Brigham Young University and Northern Arizona University. She’s published widely in forums such as The New York Times, the Washington Post, the Christian Science Monitor, and the Chronicle of Higher Education.

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