And On to College…

College is not cheap, and so many parents and students spend a lot of time trying to evaluate the costs and benefits of attending different schools. This section contains links to information to help you with this process.

Here is new research on the value added of college, this time from the Brookings Institution. The authors took a very creative approach to estimating the value added by attending different colleges. Here is their report, here is the MS Excel spreadsheet with data on all the schools they analyzed, and here is an article derived from their research on the value added to graduates' earnings by different skills. All well worth a read for parents and students, especially in light of this new research from Gallup about how hard it is to distinguish one college brand from another based only about what they say about themselves on their websites.

Here is The Economist's first ranking of the value-for-money at US colleges and universities.

Another new report has found that for students studying science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, the university they attend has very little impact on the salary they earn after graduation.

These new findings are similar to those from two years ago from this analysis (here's the NYT story on it), which found that, with some exceptions, the incremental earnings impact of attending an elite college was minimal. Why? Because the same factors (intelligence, grit, persistence, resilience, conscientiousness, etc.) that enable a student to be admitted to an elite college are also those that will likely lead to high earnings, regardless of the college attended. Seems like common sense (especially to parents who have worked for 30 years), except during that strange season when your kids are applying to college...

Gallup has also published a study showing that, with respect to subsequent career outcomes, it matters less which college a student attends than the experiences he or she has while there. Here is a WSJ story on the report, here is Gallup's press release, and here is the report itself.

We also think that parents seeking to counsel their children about college and the world of work that lies ahead of them should be well acquainted with the rapidly growing body of research on how that world is changing. One good starting point is this paper on skills and jobs in the new digital economy.

Another good one is this article, on how our children are effectively in a race, with their ability to improve their skills on one side, and the rapidly improving ability of technology to substitute for traditional labor roles on the other. And here is a recent survey of employers about the knowledge and skills they are looking for in the new graduates they hire.

Close related to these reports are two 2015 analyses from Georgetown University. This one is a long, but very in-depth examination of how the education requirements associated with many of our economy’s jobs have been rapidly increasing. And this one analyzes how people with various undergraduate majors have faired since the 2008 economic crisis.

So having read the papers on why getting into a most competitive college is less important than many people think, you can read this funny/cynical article on "Why Your Brilliant Child Didn't Get Into the Ivies". And on a more serious note, here's an excellent paper by a professor that many students should read, about "The Hidden Value of Empty Time and Boredom".

Finally, here is a cautionary research summary about how too much "helicopter parenting" in high school can have negative consequences for a child when he or she goes to college.