It’s Not All About the Benjamins: Which Universities Prepare Students for “A Great Life”?

It’s Not All About the Benjamins: Which Universities Prepare Students for “A Great Life”?

Flying in the face of a separate college performance ranking system announced earlier this year by the Obama administration, Gallup and Purdue university announced their own plans to measure colleges’ effectiveness.

The new ranking system seeks to go beyond these traditional measures like how many graduates are employed and making big salaries. It attempts to figure out which colleges provide their students the best chance at “a good life.”

“Decades of Gallup research have helped measure and quantify whether a person has a great job and a great life,” said Brandon Busteed, executive director of Gallup Education. “Right now, there isn’t a college or university in the country that can tell–from a research-based perspective–to what degree their graduates have great jobs and great lives.”

So what makes a good life, according to Gallup?

It’s conducting a study that will attempt to measure a graduate’s sense of purpose, her social, physical, financial well-being and her sense of community. The survey will also ask graduates qualitative questions, such as whether they like what they do for a living.

Purdue University is the first college to partner with Gallup to study its own graduates and compare its students to national averages.

“Students and their parents deserve to know with confidence whether a college they are considering has a trustworthy track record of developing successful, engaged, and fulfilled graduates,” said Mitch Daniels, president of Purdue University.

Do you think this new ranking is a better way to measure how well colleges prepare students for the rest of their lives, or do you think it’s a case of comparing apples to oranges? Share your thoughts. 

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One comment

  1. Well, it is certainly a start. I have been troubled from the start by the “College ROI” discussion as being at cross-purposes with real education and the societal good to be had in having an educated populace. The mantra: “Bringing accountability to higher education just like we did to K – 12 education” gives me pause given the focus on rote learning and use of high-stakes standardized testing to “prove” accountability in K – 12 public schools – which I believe to be detrimental to students and professional educators alike.

    What is missing in all of these purported measures of the worth of higher education is the ability to define worth over a lifetime. Had you asked me at whether I “liked my job” soon after my undergrad education was complete you would have received a very different answer than I would offer now, in retrospective, about that same job – which I now realize taught me lessons that have contributed to my current success. Creating a designed experiment to measure the efficiency and effectiveness of education over a lifetime is a far more challenging task than the creation of a “consumer preference” survey.

    This should be an interesting project to keep an eye on.

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