Report: College Worth Both
Time and Money
b Y TAbIThA WhIssEMORE
Recent graduates, in a national survey, said what college leaders already know: Earning a degree is worth the time and money. Last year, the American Council on Education (ACE) conducted a
national survey of recent graduates of two- and four-year colleges
about their experiences. Of the 400 young alumni polled, 89 percent said their
education has value.
Using the national survey as a benchmark, ACE later conducted an identical
institution-level survey of graduates from 22 specific colleges and universities.
The results were similar. Eighty to 97 percent of institutions agreed that, despite a
necessary significant investment of time and money, college was worthwhile.
According to John Sexton, chair of ACE’s board and president of New York
University, the numbers speak to the excellence of American higher education.
“Even in a time when there is a lot of national dissatisfaction, there is still
confidence in our institutions of higher education,” Sexton said.
When asked how effectively their college experience prepared them for work,
81 percent of alumni offered positive feedback. Sixty-two percent of respondents to
the national survey said that, in general, colleges and universi-
ties are preparing students for the demands of the modern
The full report is available on ACE’s website at www.acenet.edu/AM/Template.cfm?
Responses weren’t broken down between graduates from two- and four-year colleges. But Corrigan
did say that alumni from two-year colleges—where
job-training programs are prevalent—on average had
a more positive response to the workforce preparedness question.
Twenty-eight percent of alumni said “preparing
students for employment” is the most important role
colleges play. Just slightly above that, at 31 percent, was
“teaching students how to think critically.”
ACE President Molly Corbett Broad said the organization sought out alumni
opinions because their voices are “an important component in the assessment of
our institutions,” especially in view of efforts to increase the number of college
“We are delighted to learn that they have a positive view of their experiences.
But they are not without concerns, and we take those concerns very seriously,”
Corbett Broad added.
One of those concerns is price, although 76 percent of alumni in the national
sample thought the cost of their alma mater was fair. Corrigan indicated that this
was another instance where alumni from four-year colleges had a slightly less
favorable response than those from two-year colleges.
Corrigan hopes that, in the near term, institutions will use the information to
start a dialogue on campus.
“Our students offer the best feedback we can get,” Corrigan said.
The U.s. Department of Education (ED) has announced plans to hold a series of Regional Community
College summits as a follow-up to last
year’s White house Community College
The summits will be one-day events
with 150 invited participants selected to
ensure representation from community
colleges, business, philanthropy, labor,
state and local government, and students. Each summit will follow essentially
the same format and will have breakout
sessions on a variety of topics. Each site
will have a more detailed focus on one
of the following areas: serving military
personnel, their families, and veterans;
supporting the transition of low-skilled
adults into community college; rethinking developmental education; and creating sustainable business partnerships.
In addition, ED will host a Community
College Virtual symposium during the
last week in April that will present findings of four issue briefs closely aligned
with the topics of focus at the regional
The regional summits will be held:
To submit your name for consideration
as a participant in one of the summits,
go to email@example.com.