How regional universities give “added value” to graduates

How regional universities give “added value” to graduates

The Brookings Institute recently published a report highlighting a new approach to evaluating the costs and benefits of a college education.

Labeled the “value added” approach, The Brookings Institute accounts for several key qualitative and quantitative components that contribute to the post-graduation benefits a university attempts to deliver for its students.  The calculations by the Brookings Institute build upon current college evaluation formulas by isolating the effects an individual institution has on the post-graduation outcomes for students.  The purpose

The Brookings Institute applies five key metrics in its formula to determine the overall “value added” impact of an institution: curriculum value, alumni skills, STEMs orientation, completion rates and student aid.  Each metric has its own subset of components that contribute to the overall score of each branch.  Each university is scored on a 100-point scale for each metric.

Below is a series of visualizations of the overall score for the University of Nevada, Reno, as well as some of the significant 4-year public institutions in relative proximity.

Key Takeaways:

  • UNR is a lean university: it does not have the largest network or the deepest pockets, but it provides good value for what it is.  Where UNR scores relatively low for alumni skills and financial aid, it makes up for with high scores in curriculum value and STEMs orientation.  Another noteworthy element not displayed through this graph is an average annual instructor salary score of 91, showing a commitment to spending on quality educators.
  • Students from UC Davis are not as prepared for valued alumni skills, but still find great success after college.  One of the peculiar things about this model is the separation of alumni skills and STEMs orientation.  The report states alumni skills is an analysis of the skills listed on alumni resumes that match the top 25 most desired skills according to LinkedIn.  While it is likely there are many leadership, task management and problem solving skills on that list, it is also likely that many of those skills will be STEMs related as well, so its peculiar that UC Davis scored low on alumni skills while scoring high on STEMs.
  • There is a reason Stanford is an exclusive and expensive university: it pays off well for its alumni.  Stanford scored an overall grade of 97, which is head and shoulders above any other regional university in this post.  Stanford scored near-perfect scores of 99 for alumni skills and financial aid.  It was rather astonishing how much Stanford dwarfed over all the other institutes in this post when in regards to financial aid.  For comparison, Stanford averages $22,873 per student for financial aid, where the next closest university, UC Berkeley, only averages $5,730 per student.  In fact, Stanford averages more financial aid per student than averages for all the other schools combined, which totals $20,544.  It should also be noted Stanford scored a perfect 100 for instructor salaries, who average an annual salary of $228,876.
  • UNLV can improve in all facets.  UNLV scored below 50 in all but STEMs orientations where it scored a 60.  UNLV scored particularly low for alumni skills, only notching a score of 8.  It is important to remember this model measured the added value of an institute, not the overall value.  A low score in added value may not necessarily mean the institute itself is a bad university, it merely means graduates are not necessarily overachieving anticipated success due to projected incomes of graduates.  The low score for UNLV merely suggests graduates are actually performing closer to anticipated than any other program.  On the flip side, if a college education is viewed as an investment, graduates from UNLV are receiving the least ROI from their degree.
  • The University of Idaho is the class of the Gem State.  While Boise State University frequently finds itself in the spotlight due to football, the University of Idaho has quietly established itself as a very respectable and well-balanced program in the western coast.  Idaho’s overall score of 64 was the highest mark for any institution outside the state of California.  Idaho scored above 50 in all categories, and scored a particularly high mark of 82 for STEMs orientation.  While Boise State may have the upper hand on the football field, the University of Idaho has the upper hand in the classroom, and seems to be setting up its students for better success as alumni.

Below is a list of the notable 4-year public universities and their overall scores.

University of Nevada, Reno: 55UNR new

University of Las Vegas, Nevada: 36UNLV new

Sacramento State: 49UC Sacramento new

University of California-Davis: 73UC Davis new

University of California-Berkeley: 84UC Berkeley new

Stanford: 97Stanford new

San Jose State University: 61San Jose State new

University of Idaho: 64Idaho new

Boise State University: 51Boise State new