Rankings that privilege affordability and “return on investment” are becoming more common. They tend to look very different from more conventional lists. It becomes problematic if one falls into the false dichotomy trap: either you care about ROI or you care about “intellectual, social and civic value of education.” One advantage of a liberal arts education is that it teaches you “both/and” as well as “either/or” thinking. We need to recognize that paying attention to cost and career value does not mean abandoning other education fundamentals.
From The New York Times
By ARIEL KAMINER
Published: October 27, 2013
Looking out over the quadrangle before him as students dashed from one class to the next, James Muyskens was feeling proud one recent afternoon, and why not?
The college he had led for the past 11 years had just been awarded second place in a new ranking of American higher education — ahead of flagship state universities, ahead of elite liberal arts colleges, even ahead of all eight Ivy League universities.
The college is Queens College, a part of the City University of New York with an annual tuition of $5,730, and a view of the Long Island Expressway.
Catering to working-class students, more than half of whom were born in other countries, Queens does not typically find itself at the top of national rankings. Then again, this was not a typical ranking. It was a list of colleges that offer the “best bang for the buck.”
“Elation,” said Dr. Muyskens, recalling his delight when he learned of the honor. “Thrilled!”
Purists might regard such bottom-line calculations as an insult to the intellectual, social and civic value of education. But dollars-and-cents tabulations like that one (which was compiled by Washington Monthly), are the fastest-growing sector of the college rankings industry, with ever more analyses vying for the attention of high school students and their parents who are anxious about finances.