Education Editorial: State Council of Higher Education for Virginia

By: Bill Bosher - email

Last week we looked at a study of higher education called, "Academically Adrift", and were appalled by the poor academic performance of college students.

With the reality of growing debt for students with degrees (as well as those who have debt and did not finish), a question was posed, "who is studying cost benefit?"

The State Council of Higher Education for Virginia, SCHEV, released a powerful new tool called the Virginia Longitudinal Data System. Seven years in the making and with legislative support, the first Wage Report offers a look at the relationship between higher education and compensation.

While some will argue that it misses the passion of pursuing a course of study that simply "turns you on", it offers a rare glimpse into the utility of an education.

The data tracks nearly 837,000 students from public and private institutions. A snapshot of earnings is taken at 18 months and five years.

While SCHEV clearly notes the limitations, the information is powerful for students. What can I study that will give me a reasonable return on my or my family's investment? And, is it worth it?

While we clearly need to raise the recognition and value of those who prepare themselves for work in other ways than college, it seems to be true that college will provide an economic leg up.

The Organization for Economic Development and Cooperation looked at 25 countries and found that there is a net return to the student, a net return to the taxpayer and that a college degree gives about twice the economic advantage of earning only a high school diploma.

Parents hope for more that the right college for their children…they hope that they will get a job!

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