Black Vs. Orange: College Ratings
Tuition is skyrocketing. The average incoming college student continues to wonder whether or not the university he or she is going to is worth the debt, which is why Obama’s plan is not as bad as his opposition makes it appear.
In his 2012 State of the Union address, Obama proposed that if college tuition did not stop rising faster than inflation, taxpayer financing would drop. Additionally, in 2013, he urged Congress to consider his college affordability policy plan to have those measures become incorporated into the accreditation system.
“All the things we’re measuring are important for students choosing a college,” a senior administration official remarked. “It’s important to us that colleges offer good value for their tuition dollars, and that higher education offer families a degree of security, so students aren’t left with debt they can’t pay back,” the official stated.
That is essentially all that Obama’s doing. Obama is not proposing that all financial aid should be cut from colleges. Well, he is–but, Obama is proposing that financial aid should be cut at colleges that charge too high of a tuition, hold ratings with low graduation levels and no post-job success to match, which completely makes sense. Why would a government continue to help students afford a college education that they are unable to complete, or, if they do complete it, they would have a low chance of employment after graduation?
For now, there is still limited information in regards to both parts of the plan that concern numerical data and the actual intricate planks of the plan. For the next two years, the Obama administration will be working with the Department of Education and listen to concerns from council leaders of current colleges to continue working on the proposal.
Regardless, the plan may not even be passed by Congress, because some members have released statements in the past that declare their opposition to a revamp of the education system. However, in a time of rocketing tuition and low employment ratings, the question of whether or not American universities should require the government to review the current rating system is a good one.
Back in August, the Obama administration released a new plan to rate colleges based on their tuition cost, accessibility to low-income students, and certain student outcomes, such as a college’s graduation rate and students’ average earnings after graduation.
The methodology, criteria and research of the system used to evaluate the universities will be, and is already under, heavy scrutiny. It’s proposed measure of graduation rates fails to take into account large sums of students, including those that transfer between academic institutions and those that attend part-time.
Since Obama’s plan will take into account students’ graduation rates, colleges could potentially cut down on the amount of disadvantaged students in their institutions. These students can pull the graduation rate numbers down; therefore, the schools would lose funding as a result.
Another major pitfall of the proposal is that it judges colleges’ academic success by the salary of its graduates. At Pacific, the Conservatory of Music is a successful college, with many notable alumni such as Dave Brubeck, and the first conservatory on the west coast.
However, according to Forbes, the unemployment rate for recent music major graduates is 9.2 percent, with median earnings of $30,000.
With President Obama’s new ranking system, the Conservatory would not receive much financial aid and be considered an unsuccessful institution based on its graduates’ salaries. The rating would penalize those who make important and valuable contributions to society, such as music therapy majors and teachers because they do not bring home a hefty salary.
The Obama administration should revise the proposal, or at the very least, rate the effectiveness of programs rather than colleges as a whole and take into account all the variations and methods of measuring data in a more holistic manner.
As Terry W. Hartle, senior vice president for government and public affairs at the American Council on Education stated, “He would have preferred to see the administration send out a series of formulas for peer review before it made a rating system final.”
For more on this debate…
Pacific’s speech & debate team will be debating this topic during Homecoming. Four students will each argue their case as to why he or she believes the college rating system proposed by President Obama will benefit higher education or not. Come see what Pacific students have to say about whether or not the U.S. federal government should rate colleges.
Time: 10:00 AM to 11:00 AM
Date: Saturday, Oct. 19
Location: Wendell Phillips Center (WPC) Room 140
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