We often warn clients to not take rankings too seriously. We encourage them to use the information to research schools, but don’t make a decision about a college solely based on where that college stands on a list.
Public higher education has had a rough road lately. It seems the all the media attention regarding public higher education is geared towards budget cuts and rising tuition. Kiplinger recently released their annual list of “Best Values in Public Colleges.” This list provides some insights into the positive aspects of public higher education. It highlights the fact that not only are there opportunities to obtain a cost effective college degree, but you do not have to sacrifice academic quality to do so.
The article, “How We Rank Top Public College Values” outlines both the financial and academic aspects that were reviewed in creating the rankings. On the financial side, Kiplinger looked at the total cost for in-state students, as well as the average cost after financial aid is factored in. They also looked at the percentage of students borrowing and the average debt amount upon graduation. For the academic side, they looked at factors such as admission statistics, and retention rates, and percentage of students graduating in 4 and 6 years.
In determining “value,” Kiplinger places higher importance on the academic factors over cost. Isn’t this what higher education is all about? Understandably, cost has become a determining factor in how families approach the college application process. While it is difficult to assess the academic value prior to enrolling at a school, it is something that families can still research. Kiplinger’s list shows that there are public schools that can still maintain high academic quality at a public school price.