The Only College Rankings That Matter

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by Tyler Durden
Tuesday, Aug 31, 2021 - 01:00 AM

Submitted by Job Search Intelligence

In 2013, Educate To Career invented a completely new methodology for ranking colleges. Our system was based on the economic value that colleges created for students. It was not another rehashed list of colleges, sorted by SAT score. This new system was based solely on the colleges ability to provide future earnings value to their students. We statistically valued graduation rates, occupational outcomes (including salaries), student loan repayment rates, labor market attachment, and other factors to score colleges. The ETC College Rankings Index quickly changed the discussion regarding how people valued colleges. Aura or cache became less important and career outcomes rose to the forefront. And college costs became a top consideration. Students, parents, college planners and the like coalesced around the understanding that colleges were fairly assessed by their ability to prepare students for the job market, at a reasonable cost.

This new ideology immediately began taking hold and was instrumental in improving the college enrollment decisions people made. Since launching our original College Rankings Index, there has been an incremental trend where enrollments are rising at affordable, value oriented colleges. Families became aware of the fact that their local state college provides a good education at a great price, largely because they’ve already paid for that college with your tax dollars. Again, our rankings was not a list of colleges sorted by SAT score, high to low. It was a re-ordering of higher education institutions, based on how well they served their mission of preparing young people for the workforce, and at a reasonable cost.

The Covid Effect on College Planning

Prior to Covid, families were making incremental adjustments to their college planning decisions. They were trending away from expensive private schools, while enrollments in public state colleges were ticking up by 1% to 2% annually. At the same time, students were selecting more practical majors, such as: business, engineering, and health. The word was clearly out that STEM studies lead to real jobs. Studying these majors at lower cost state colleges is just good, practical college planning. Families were saving many $thousands on tuitions each year, while their kids were enrolling in career tracking degrees that will lead to jobs that pay double what ‘soft’ degrees pay.

Then Covid hit. And it hit colleges hard. Covid compressed 5 years of this gradual shift in enrollment trends into 1 year of stark and abrupt change where families became dramatically more cost conscious in terms of the colleges they chose, and the majors in which their kids enrolled. Prior to Covid, the enrollment trend was biasing towards more affordable colleges, and practical majors. The word was clearly out that STEM studies lead to real jobs. Covid radically accelerated the trend that was already underway.  

With all of this in mind, a conventional college rankings system is less relevant than ever. People will always be curious to know which of Harvard, Princeton or Yale is 1st in a given year; but they realistically concluded years ago that it had no bearing on their own college plans.

Negotiating Tuitions is Now Easier and More Common than Ever

College tuitions have been negotiable for over 20 years, though the folks in the admissions offices won’t admit that the practice was becoming more widespread, as they are revenue driven salespeople. The bottom line is this – at almost every college in the U. S., over half of the students are given at least some ‘institutional aid’, which is a fancy name for a discount. The amount of institutional aid being doled out is increasing every year and the number of students receiving institutional aid is increasing as well.

A key function of our new College Rankings Index is to provide you with data points that highlight the colleges where you have the greatest opportunity to negotiate, and arrive at the lowest possible net tuition.

A College Rankings System that Reflects the Needs of Students Today

More recently, shifts in the labor market were necessitating that students become serious about choosing majors that lead to real careers. The evidence is clear that labor markets are evolving rapidly and that technical skills are the future. This is especially true for young people. Employers are seeking people with specific skill sets, and less focused on brand name diplomas.

Our newest generation College Rankings Index incorporates the aforementioned realities of college, as well as the dynamics of the labor market. This new system represents the academic interests of each individual student, and allows them to create a list of colleges that will enable them to plan their own path through higher education, and to successfully enter the workforce. Key features of the new ETC College Rankings Index includes:

  • Personalization of list – the system will generate a list of colleges that matches academic competencies and interests.

  • Focus on academic major – will help select a major that will lead to a real career with strong earnings.

  • Reduce your tuition – see the tuition discounts given in recent years to help negotiate the lowest tuition possible.

We proudly release our new ETC College Rankings Index, enabling students to make the most prudent college to career planning decisions.

A few parting notes regarding the legacy systems for ranking colleges, and the 20+ years of disservice they did to students and families:

  • Harvard, Princeton, Yale, et al, they don’t create winners, they pick them. Drop outs from those colleges are some of the wealthiest people in the world.

  • If you only allow people with an SAT score of 1450 or higher in your doors, you’re starting line up is the top 1%. Congratulations to those colleges for picking ‘all star teams’.

  • If you have an SAT score that is 1450 to 1500, you’ve got about a 5% chance of being accepted by any one of the Ivy League colleges.

  • For the past 20 years, starting salaries for STEM graduates have risen by 3% to 5% annually. During that same timeframe, salaries for graduates with soft degrees have seen 0% to 2% wage gains. By every metric: unemployment rate, labor market attachment, student loan repayment rates, homeownership rates, the list goes on…. graduates with STEM degrees have faired substantially better in the labor market than have their counterparts with soft degrees. The key takeaway here is that the entire college rankings industry has fixated families on expensive (and often unattainable colleges) while neglecting what really matters – the academic major.

Despite all of the aforementioned facts and data points, various producers of college rankings have continued to peddle systems which are regurgitated lists of the same elite colleges dominating the top spots. Since 2013, our College Rankings Index has provided a tremendous value to students and their families. Our newest system, reflects what students need to know in todays’ labor market to develop their college plans. Given the challenges that students face, our new ETC College Rankings Index is The Only College Rankings That Matter.