Should the federal government rate colleges?

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  • Kings Court Alpine, UT
    Sept. 6, 2013 11:35 p.m.

    Until the federal government can get its own house in order, they are in no position to rank anything or set benchmarks for anyone. Right now, they lack any credibility.

  • John Armstrong Buena Vista, VA
    Sept. 5, 2013 7:30 a.m.

    I should also mention that President Obama's proposal says nothing about tying Pell dollars to learning outcomes. Student learning outcomes were the heavy focus of Secretary Spellings in the Bush administration. In response, colleges and universities spent huge sums and untold hours assessing the extent to which their students were achieving the learning outcomes that they expected and then reporting the results to their regional accreditors.

    Why isn't the Obama administration using this body of work? Perhaps it is because there is no common assessment tool and so the results cannot be compared from institution from institution. Is this a good reason to turn away from learning outcomes to some other measure of institutional performance? Only if a suitable assessment tool cannot be found. In my view, the Collegiate Learning Assessment fits the bill, assessing progress in writing and thinking skills found in any worthwhile collegiate education. It is my memory that Secretary Spellings liked it too and came close to making every college and university use it. Perhaps Secretary Duncan should give it another look, or at least place more emphasis on student learning.

  • 4word thinker Murray, UT
    Sept. 4, 2013 8:03 p.m.

    Mom of 8

    "far too often don't take their college seriously" That is what I said and you quoted.

    You notice I didn't say all. If all pell grant recipients were failing to graduate, I would have suggested we eliminate the program altogether. I didn't do that.

    I am currently raising my youngest child who I am having to push to pay for his own college, not because I can't afford to help out, but because he doesn't appreciate it enough if it comes too easy.

    I will say again, the tax dollars I pay are a sacrifice. When I fund an education with my hard earned money, I want the recipient to work hard, do well, and be successful. I expect that from my children, so why would I expect less from others who get my tax funds?

    You also might notice that our country is deeply in debt, so every dollar paid in pell grants could be considered student loans. It is just that the taxpayers will have to pay it back instead of the student/recipient.

  • Mark Bilotta Worcester, MA
    Sept. 4, 2013 3:22 p.m.

    The gentleman doth protest too much, methinks.

    I'm sure the author would agree that a number of colleges and universities paint only the brightest pictures of their institutions. So it should come as no surprise that there is growing bipartisan and consumer support for more transparency by colleges and universities.

    Is it important for students and families to know that only 25% of students will graduate within six years from a specific college? It sure is. And yes, there are countless reasons why students will transfer, yet the author doesn't mention any that may reflect poorly on an institution.

    I agree with the author that rating colleges on graduates' earnings is a slippery slope. Data for institutions which promote Teach for America, Peace Corps, Jesuit Volunteer Corps, or other long term commitments after graduation could be misleading.

    In the end, students and families need to be armed with helpful information to make better informed decisions. Whether it's Kiplinger's,, US News and World Report, or the College Scorecard, we need to promote discussion, using valid data, to ensure that each college decision is a good academic AND financial fit.

  • Invisible Hand Provo, UT
    Sept. 4, 2013 2:51 p.m.

    @DN subscriber 2: Thank you for the articulating the soundest approach to education spending I have ever heard. That needs to be published as a letter to the editor.

  • Mom of 8 Hyrum, UT
    Sept. 4, 2013 2:42 p.m.

    4word thinker~

    Be careful about stereotypes: "Students who get to go to college for free, on the government dole, far too often don't take their college seriously. Informing them will be a waste of time and money." Not very forward thinking.

    My husband and I both attended college on Pell Grants, and also worked full time in college, and went on to post-graduate work and degrees. My oldest daughter just began grad school, and was funded by Pell Grants as well for her undergrad. Fellowships and hard work--not student loans--are paying the rest. Not a waste of time or money.

    But you demonstrate one of the many problems Armstrong illustrates: People cannot be pigeon-holed into neat little categories. Public education has tried to do this for decades without complete success. We're not educating masses; we're educating individuals who change majors, who transfer, who have to take time off and return later, whose lives are complex and varied, and neither they--nor the colleges they attend--should be "punished" in some random rating system simply because they are human.

  • The Hammer lehi, utah
    Sept. 4, 2013 2:35 p.m.

    College ratings would be manipulated by who ever was in the position. What would the criteria be? If its an abstract rating then its a bad idea espcially because it can be politically manipulated the same way the accreditation works. If you are out of favor with those boards than you can't be admitted. Rating systems done on a national level are a bad idea. Let states rate their universities and empower them by granting to states the power to issue pell grants, ratings and other issues of their universities. If its a non profit private college let them rise or fall on their own merit.

  • DN Subscriber 2 SLC, UT
    Sept. 4, 2013 12:29 p.m.

    Just what we do not need and cannot afford. Another federal program, bureaucracy and perpetual drain on the economy to "fix" something that the government has no business being involved with in the first place.

    The problem of worthless colleges stems directly from the federal government "fixing" the problem of student loans. The (well, us taxpayers) guarantee the loans made to anyone who wants to go to any school, regardless of how useless the school, how unmotivated the student, or unlikely they are to repay the loan. This creates demand for worthless schools, and drives up numbers and costs at good schools as well by filling seats with marginal students.

    Get the government out of the college business entirely. If someone has the smarts, they can work to save the money, or work while in school, or qualify for a real loan based on merit, not endless handouts. When people spend their own money, they are much pickier about what school they will attend, and the worthless schools will soon find they have no students.

  • Ultra Bob Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Sept. 4, 2013 11:20 a.m.

    The major purpose of government is to protect its citizens from enemies both foreign and domestic. The setting of standards for commercial entities and the rating of same is a proper role of government.

    An industry of advise in the choosing of venders, tradesmen, doctors, dentist and all sorts of professionals is growing like a plague upon our economy. The reason for such an industry of commercial parasites is clear evidence that our government is not doing its job in protecting the people from internal enemies.

    The problem with private business giving advice on other business is that the object of a private business is the making of profit for the owners. As a business themselves, the private adviser may be flawed in judgment by financial considerations.

    The people who would be less effected by the financial are those at the national government level. Besides, I think colleges and universities should return to education concerns and get out of the business profit competition.

  • 4word thinker Murray, UT
    Sept. 4, 2013 7:48 a.m.

    I agree with Hamath. Students who get to go to college for free, on the government dole, far too often don't take their college seriously. Informing them will be a waste of time and money.

    Awarding grants based on the graduation rate and the employment rate of the graduates for the college is the way to go. The income of graduates should be a factor, so the graduates can become contributors to the next generation of recipients. We should also include preference for degrees which are in areas of need in our country, such as math/science.

    Grants are an investment of tax payer dollars. They should be carefully invested in ways that give us the best return for our money.

  • Hamath Omaha, NE
    Sept. 4, 2013 4:19 a.m.

    The assumption with this proposal is that release of these records will impact the # of the people who go to the college and thus drive the college to be more student centered and better and providing services and less concerned with making money. I challenge the assumption. The types of students that often end up at these for profit colleges are either choosing the college for it's reputation (not the colleges to usually worry about) or aren't the types of students who would look at any rating system (and these choose the worst offending colleges).

    Hit the colleges where it matters. If a certain % of students do not graduate and get jobs in their major, the the college gets less money for Pell Grants or even has to pay back some of the money themselves. This would kill the degree mills such as "Hair Salon" or "Massage Therapy" colleges and encourage others to advertise heavier in fields that actually need workers such as Pharmacy, Nursing, Welding.